Liverpool are Champions League finalists. They are likely to be in next season’s edition of the tournament even if they don’t manage to win the final, as a victory over (or even a draw with) Brighton on the final day will likely be enough to secure a top four spot. The last time they played the Seagulls, they won 5-1 on the south coast: it’s all in their favour.
It’s clearly been a good season, then. Beyond the tangible successes of the Champions League run and decent league showing, the Reds have been one of the most exciting teams in the league and indeed in Europe. Mohamed Salah has, as a result, swept up seemingly all the awards, and Liverpool fever has swept the nation.
But this summer, the Reds might find themselves a little bit stuck.
The question of how to improve on this team essentially boils down to how to improve the squad depth. Maybe a new goalkeeper and a couple of new defenders could come in and make an impact to the side’s overall cohesion, but when it comes to the midfield and attack, it’s hard to really make the starting XI better – certainly when you factor in the arrival of Naby Keita. And yet surely no one can think that Liverpool can be title contenders next season if they don’t capitalise on their momentum by adding a few more names.
Breaking | Liverpool reach €70m deal to sign Nabil Fékir from Lyon, according to RMC – full story https://t.co/2qvnV5uD7k
— Get French Football (@GFFN) May 6, 2018
So who comes into the attack? Clearly there aren’t many players (if any) who can be an upgrade on Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. Not realistic additions at any rate. Yes, some reinforcements are needed, but it’s hard to convince a top tier talent to come to Anfield and sit on the bench. It’s a similar problem to the one Spurs have: they had to go for Fernando Llorente to play understudy to Harry Kane, and it didn’t pay dividends this season.
Danny Ings and Dominic Solanke aren’t adequate replacements for injury and squad rotation purposes, but even mere upgrades on those two wouldn’t necessarily take the Reds to the next level. It’s all about the balancing act between the names they can attract and the squad roles they can offer. Attacking reinforcements will surely arrive, but if they are of a sufficient level, will they also have the humility required to come off the bench in the right frame of mind to change a game.
In the midfield, it’ll be a similar story. With Keita coming into the team, Liverpool will have another top class midfielder to add to their ranks. Perhaps it’s less of a problem in this area as the likes of James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have proven themselves to be more than useful to Jurgen Klopp in the middle of the pitch, and with Adam Lallana to come back into the side, too, the Reds will have plenty of decent back-up options, all of whom have already bought into the project that’s underway at Anfield. Unlike the worry about the attack, you wouldn’t envisage anyone throwing their toys out of the pram.
You might be thinking that Liverpool should really be focusing on sorting out the defence and probably even the goalkeeper before worrying about the attack. In a sense that might be true, but in attack Klopp has few options beyond his starters and he’s been fairly lucky with injuries this season. He certainly hasn’t been unlucky, which is a possibility next season, too.
That’s why names like Nabil Fekir are being spoken about. But next season, will he really want to sit on the bench?
This is the line Klopp has to tread this summer. And whilst it’s true that the manager really shouldn’t be thinking about such things until the after the Champions League final at the end of the month, these are the problems he’ll be faced with very soon indeed.