5 ways Jurgen Klopp will further strengthen Liverpool this summer
3. Strong pre-season
The World Cup is an issue for all clubs, but Liverpool will actually have many of their key players uninvolved. Virgil van Dijk, Wijnaldum (both above), Keita, Fabinho and Andy Robertson will have a summer off – as will Pulisic, Zaha, Lascelles or Tarkowski, should any of those arrive.
Klopp will value the time being able to work with Van Dijk, Fabinho and Keita – the new spine of his side – right from the off. The German has only signed one player in August during his time as Liverpool manager. He clearly wants deals done early so he can work with new signings and embed them into his squad. Preparation is key.
4. Staff evolution
Among the things on Klopp’s to-do list this summer are some changes within his coaching staff. Assistant Zeljko Buvac has been on leave since April and seems highly unlikely to return, while former first-team development coach Pepijn Lijnders (above) is to be offered a return after his brief spell in management in the Netherlands ended.
Lijnders would be an ideal replacement for Buvac and his comeback would be a boost to players and coaching staff at Melwood; the likeable Dutchman was a key man for Klopp in training and during pre-match routines until his departure in January.
Another change will be a new head physio, after Andy Renshaw was sacked in October. These changes can help keep things fresh and hopefully aid further improvements for Klopp’s squad. There will be continuity, but also evolution.
5. Player development
Klopp is a manager who improves players. That’s evidenced with the developments seen in Dejan Lovren (above) in recent months. Equally, it’s very difficult to think of a player who Klopp has worked with at Liverpool and hasn’t improved.
Some haven’t been suited to his style – Sturridge, Christian Benteke – but his signings have been perfectly aligned with what the manager wants. A clear strategy is in place. Van Dijk, Robertson, Sadio Mané and Salah are completely Klopp players. Next season, we could well see a full XI of players signed since Klopp arrived, with the exception of only Firmino, who has been evolved into a new player by the manager.
With another full pre-season to work with players, we should expect further improvements – especially given that very few of the Liverpool squad can be considered veterans or even in their prime years. Some are approaching their peak now, while others have Klopp around to ensure they fulfil their potential – see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as a case in point.
A trio of young wingers; Sheyi Ojo, Ryan Kent and Harry Wilson, ended the campaign out on loan and will return to Melwood hoping to earn the right to remain at the club next season. Of the three, Wilson had the biggest impact and was most impressive, and the Welshman could well be a player who’s added to the squad to further strengthen the options available to Klopp.
The early signing of Fabinho, plus very strong links to Fekir, show the hard work and preparation for next season has been well underway for weeks now. Klopp will be eager to start when the players return to pre-season training in July.