With the Jurgen Klopp revolution at Anfield already under way, many eyes will be on the players bought and sold over the coming summer. Whilst there has already been some improvement on the pitch with tactics, mentality and formation clearly showing tell-tale signs of the German’s influence, there is undoubtedly a long way to go to before we can truly appreciate his effect on the side.
Until he can bring in his own signings the side will not be moulded in his image and that the ‘Klopp effect’ can only truly kick in with a suitable squad. With a number of players clearly not good enough or indeed unsuited to the way the former Dortmund boss wants his side to play, the transfer comings and goings at Anfield are sure to be numerous before the next campaign kicks off.
But the German boss, whilst undoubtedly needing to re-jiggle the squad to some degree, must also be careful not to fall into the same trap as some of his most recent predecessors on Merseyside who have bought in numerous signings rather than concentrating on two or three quality players in key positions. If Klopp can prioritise quality over quantity during this summer, whilst also developing existing squad members, it will almost certainly benefit Liverpool far more than if several ‘average’ players are brought in.
Indeed, one of the biggest mistakes made by former Reds boss Brendan Rodgers was doing just that, bringing in a total of nine new faces following their ‘oh-so-nearly’ campaign of 2013/14, and a further seven in the summer of 2015. Some of these worked out – Roberto Firmino seems like quite a prospect, and of course some were free – James Milner would be a welcome addition to most Premier League squads – but there were considerable sums paid out for what were essentially ‘squad players’, the likes of Mario Balotelli (£16m) Dejan Lovren (£20m) or Lazar Markovic (£20m) generally not making the grade.
Klopp must heed the mistakes of Rodgers (and even perhaps ‘King Kenny’ before him, but don’t tell that to a Liverpool fan!) and strike a fine balance between improving squad depth whilst not compromising on quality. And in that respect, his former Dortmund star Mario Götze should be his main priority. Given the pair’s previous success and working relationship at the Bundesliga club, there has been much talk of the 23-year-old re-joining his old boss, particularly given how out of favour he has been at Bayern Munich recently.
The German World Cup winner has made only eight league appearances for the Bavarians this term and is being widely touted as a top priority for Klopp and Liverpool during the summer. Bringing in a player of such quality would undoubtedly be a massive coup for the German boss and markedly improve his good, but not great, Liverpool squad. Clearly other positions would require upheaval too – not least at the problematic centre-back position – but starting with Götze would be a superb base from which to build.
Recent reports suggest that Liverpool face a battle with Klopp’s former side Borussia Dortmund for his signature, but given the fact that it was Klopp who guided Götze’s development and promoted him to the first-team at Dortmund, the bond between the two could tip the balance in the Red’s favour. Indeed, there are enough youth prospects currently at Anfield for Klopp to mould in a similar fashion, a factor that could also reduce the number of players that the emotive German boss needs to add to the squad on Merseyside.
Should Klopp decide to prioritise quality over quantity, as is advisable, the capture of the supremely talented Götze would be a fine point at which to start and would surely endear him to the Anfield faithful even more than his already demi-god like status, whilst also helping create an attacking force that could be the envy of the Premier League.