Rated and slated: the pros and cons of Liverpool’s summer business
There were four new arrivals for Liverpool – plus one for next season in Naby Keita – and four first-team players were sold. Ten left on loan, six youth players were released... and Alex Manninger retired. Admit it, though: you’d forgotten he even existed.
Ahead of the summer, Jurgen Klopp had identified four players he wanted to improve key areas of his team: Virgil van Dijk at centre-back, Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon at left-back, Naby Keita in central midfield, and Mohamed Salah as a wide forward.
Only one of the four arrived this summer, with Salah intensifying an already electric attack – as Arsenal discovered last time out. Andrew Robertson satisfied the hunger for Sessegnon, which perhaps works out better in the short term at least. Add to that duo Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Dominic Solanke, and the Reds have certainly improved.
Keita has been secured for next summer after a drawn-out chase for his services, but Van Dijk remains a Southampton player despite having met with Jurgen Klopp to talk tactics and more in Blackpool earlier in the summer.
So as we reflect on a strange summer of tapping up, rejected transfer requests and Klopp’s claim that James Milner returning to midfield is “like a new signing”, here are the good and bad bits of Liverpool’s summer transfer business.
Pro: Squad depth improved
Last season, 19 players made 10 or more appearances (all competitions, including as substitute) for Liverpool. This season, with Champions League football returning for the first time in three seasons, Reds fans will see that number increase.
Depth has certainly been improved – not only though Klopp’s four new arrivals, but also the development and improvements of players like Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Alberto Moreno
Lucas Leiva, sold to Lazio, reduces that total to 18, but expect new signings Salah, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Robertson and Solanke to make 10 or more appearances. Joe Gomez – sidelined for much of last season having returned from an ACL injury – has played in every Premier League game so far this season, while 17-year-old Ben Woodburn should feature sporadically off the bench and start cup games. Marko Grujic only made eight appearances last term and will likely get more this time, bringing the total to 25 players who’ll be expected to hit the 10-appearance mark at a minimum.
So squad depth has certainly been improved – not only though Klopp’s four new arrivals, but also the development and improvements of players like Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Alberto Moreno.
There are plenty of options in midfield especially, with Jordan Henderson, Emre Can, Georginio Wijnaldum, Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Grujic and Milner all competing for three places.