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Ranked! The 5 biggest areas Liverpool need to strengthen this summer

Jurgen Klopp
(Image credit: Getty)

Aside from the early arrival of French centre-back Ibrahima Konate, it’s been a very quiet summer at Anfield so far. There are very few credible reports linking Jurgen Klopp’s side with new signings, and word from respected Merseyside-journalists is that Liverpool are taking their time this summer, assessing how the market plays out, and focussing more on outgoings than incomings for now.

That doesn’t mean that the work hasn’t been done behind the scenes: the players Liverpool have an interest in will have already been contacted and talks to the stage where the Reds know the type of bid and personal terms that would be required if or when they make their move.

“We try to be prepared for pretty much everything, from a scouting and coaching point of view,” explained Klopp in May when the club's future was less sure in terms of Champions League qualification. "We will not buy eight players if we qualify (for the Champions League).”

Having successfully qualified for Europe's elite competition for the fifth consecutive season, and with owners FSG having raised around £533 million from an investment from RedBird Capital Partners, fans were optimistic that signings could follow this summer. So far, that’s not really the case, but the club do want to bring in at least two new signings before the end of the window... but where should Klopp look to strengthen?

5. A back-up goalkeeper

Liverpool’s backup goalkeeper situation is a strange one, especially this summer. The club surprinsgly handed a new contract to Adrian, who is now considered third-choice behind Alisson and youngster Caoimhin Kelleher.

A new deal for 34-year-old Adrian was strange in itself, but it’s even stranger given Liverpool’s growing issue of a lack of homegrown players. Signing a homegrown, veteran goalkeeper - like Man United with Tom Heaton (and Lee Grant!) and Man City with Scott Carson - would effectively allow Liverpool to register an extra non-homegrown player.

Liverpool won’t be signing another goalkeeper this summer, but perhaps it would have been something they would have done in an ideal world.

4. A centre-back

The signing of Konate was swiftly completed, meaning that the 6’4” centre-back was in place for day one of pre-season when the Reds reconvened in Austria.

Now, Klopp has - in a complete turn of events - eight centre backs in his pre-season training squad. Quite how the likes of Nat Phillips, Ben Davies and Rhys Williams fit into the plans for the new season isn’t clear, with Konate, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip the four senior options.

Given the nature of the injuries to Van Dijk and Gomez, plus Matip to an extent and especially with his torrid injury history, you could still make an argument for another centre-back being required at Anfield - even if it isn’t something the club are currently looking at.

3. A back-up right-back

Neco Williams

(Image credit: PA)

Widespread reports this summer suggest Liverpool will offload Welsh right-back Neco Williams, in another blow to the club’s homegrown quota in the longer term. 

Should Williams, who reportedly wants regular football, and that isn't likely with Trent Alexander-Arnold ahead of him, depart then Liverpool could certainly use a new backup right-back.

It’s only a year since Klopp said how “Robbo and Trent cannot play every season 50-something games—it would limit their careers, to be honest.” Last season, including internationals, Andy Robertson played 62 games and Trent 49. That’s simply not sustainable.

There have been suggestions that the returning Gomez will be considered the backup right-back, but such an option would be seen by supporters as being cheap. Klopp, though, has always preferred a small, tight-knit squad and having Gomez returning from such a serious injury by playing as a backup right-back and backup centre-back would perhaps be ideal for the manager this coming season.

Still, should a young player who can play right-back and perhaps another position, then it would be a good signing to make. 

2. A forward

One of Liverpool’s major issues on the horizon is the age profile of their front three who have dominated the past four seasons; Sadio Mane will be 30 at the end of the season; Roberto Firmino hits that milestone early in the season; and Mohamed Salah next summer.

Salah, in particular, looks like he has plenty of strong years ahead of him, particularly given the impressive way he trains and dedicates his body. But Liverpool will certainly be looking to inject youth into their attack, which started with the signing of Diogo Jota (24) last summer.

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Add in teenager Harvey Elliott to the mix for the coming season and you could argue there isn’t an immediate need. However, it’s still clearly an area that Klopp is targeting should the correct player come up. 

Somebody to effectively replace and upgrade on Divock Origi would be very welcomed by supporters. Fellow Belgian Jeremy Doku has previously been wooed and he will certainly be one to keep an eye on.

1. A midfielder

Saul Niguez

(Image credit: PA)

Despite some claims early in the summer that Liverpool weren’t pushing to replace Gini Wijnaldum, the idea that they would lose a player who played in 75 of the club’s last 76 Premier League games and not sign somebody seems highly unlikely.

On the other hand, given the nature of the financial situation and the ongoing uncertainly with the pandemic situation, plus the signing of Thiago last summer and the emergence of Curtis Jones as a true centre-midfield option, it could be that there is no midfielder signed. But it’s clear that it is the highest priority if the right player at the right price can be found.

So far, there have been a dozen midfielders linked; ranging from young German Florian Neuhaus to Leicester’s Youri Tielemans. The Neuhaus interest is genuine, but that dates back to earlier in the year and nothing has gone beyond an enquiry.

The headline rumour at the moment is reported interest in Atletico Madrid’s Saul Niguez. But while there is little doubt that he would be exactly what Liverpool need this summer, there is little evidence of a concrete bid.

Whether there is indeed smoke without fire regarding the claimed interest in Saul will be revealing. If no midfielder is signed it could point to a change in system to a 4-2-3-1 shape this summer and thus fewer central midfielders being required in the squad.

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