What is Liverpool's transfer approach? A case of not identifying the right man? Lack of funds? Or biding time? 🤷♂️
There can be no mistaking the impact of COVID-19... but when exactly will the next 'big summer' be?
On the face of it, Liverpool have one of the strongest starting-XI’s across Europe - that’s an objective fact.
Some might even be inclined to suggest that Jurgen Klopp has the strongest starting-XI across the continent.
With the likes of Alisson Becker, Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Mohamed Salah forming the spine of the side, it’s not a claim that’s entirely far-flung beyond the realm of reality.
That being said, this is a side that has recently suffered the loss of one of the most talented and serially underrated central midfielders in world football in Georginio Wijnaldum.
Based just on his sheer Terminator-esque durability alone, the Reds will be a poorer side without him.
As the Dutchman’s exit, once unthinkable, became increasingly likely to occur as we approached the season end, the transfer rumour mill was shocked into overdrive, flinging out midfielders quicker than you could say, “unlikely”.
Though we’ve not quite had any losses of a similar scale of importance up top, it was understood that Liverpool would likewise be keeping their eyes peeled in the window for any quality backup forwards.
Salah, as ever, was utterly imperious last term, which only served to further highlight his teammates’ changes in fortune, with both Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino suddenly struggling to influence games to the same extent as in prior campaigns.
The return of key stars - not to forget the fans - has ultimately changed things, of course.
It’s early days but even with Van Dijk at 70 or so percent, we look a formidable force.
Dare we whisper it? We look not too far off the kind of side that won back-to-back major honours between 2018-2020.
But we’ve yet to sort out any identified gaps in the squad beyond the centre of defence with Ibrahima Konate.
That having been said, it’s not entirely all doom and gloom, as those we considered to be backup options in Harvey Elliott, Naby Keita and, to a far lesser extent, Diogo Jota, have all shined when called upon.
There have only been two league games played, of course, which is entering into the danger zone as far as our Guinean international is concerned. Nonetheless, the early signs are promising.
On that basis, then, is it the case of merely not fixing ‘what ain’t broke’?
The performances of the prior three players named will have certainly given Klopp and his coaching team much food for thought.
Indeed, on the plus side, avoiding a midfield signing has handed a talented youngster in Elliott a chance to stake a claim for more first-team minutes. That’s not necessarily a bad thing considering the maturity of his performance against Burnley.
Should the club avoid any major injuries - particularly as far as the midfield is concerned - then we technically have the numbers to compete across a season… just.
The forward line beyond our prestigious front-three and Jota does look awfully slim, which raises questions as to how well we’d cope with the loss of the Portuguese international. Not to mention Salah and Mane when they head off to the African Cup of Nations.
Divock Origi hasn’t looked like a player capable of keeping the likes of Salah and co. alert for some time now.
So why the lack of action in the window?
The obvious reason is, of course, due to the financial ramifications of COVID-19, which halted the plans of most, bar the state-funded outfits of Europe.
The consistent message running through the window has been that Liverpool would have to sell before they can buy.
From Taiwo Awoniyi to Xherdan Shaqiri, we’ve seen several head for the exit door, with the side amassing a modest amount of funds.
Still, we’ve yet to witness any further senior incomings.
There are several possible conclusions to draw from this:
1) Klopp’s genuinely happy with the squad at his disposal
2) We’ve yet to identify the right fit for the squad
3) We lack the finances to go after the right man
4) We’re holding off entirely on transfers on the basis of saving money for a big summer (whenever that is).
The fourth option seems like an extension of the third, and it is, to an extent.
Various reports have suggested that our lack of activity in this window is down to the club and hierarchy having identified the next summer as ‘the big one’.
There’s a certain degree of logic attached to this if Liverpool end up securing the likes of Jordan Henderson and Salah on long-term contracts.
With the likes of Mane, Firmino, Henderson, Thiago Alcantara and so on all on or close to hitting their 30s, discussions will be had regarding the future of the club.
As much as we hate to consider it, breaking up the front-three will be at the forefront of discussions.
Sooner or later, we’re going to have introduce more fresh blood into the forward line beyond Jota.
Should Salah extend his current terms, that then raises question marks over the futures of his fellow forwards.
It’s not quite clear how contingent the ‘next big summer’ is on player sales. By next year, will we have simply have amassed enough funds through our regular revenue streams and sales this summer in order to afford a couple of big moves?
Will we need to sell one of Mane or Firmino to boost this potential kitty?
Realistically, however the finances are looking by this time next year, we’d expect there to be at least a discussion about the possibility of parting with one of the two, depending on performances.
The club won’t want to have to replace all three of Salah and co. at the same time, that’s just the way it is.
It’s ruthless, unsentimental thinking, but the kind of thinking the club have employed in recent times to bring major trophies back to Merseyside.
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