Liverpool have been busy celebrating their first English league title win in 30-years this week, but amid the talk of perches, dynasties and the pop of champagne corks, discussions about the relentless Reds’ prospects for next season have already started.
With 28 wins from 31 fixtures so far this season, the Merseysiders have flirted with Premier League perfection this term, and while they can be incredibly proud of their achievements, it won’t be long until their success is put behind them as forward-looking supporters ask “what happens next?”
The old sporting adage that suggests getting to the top is much easier than staying there, might ring hollow for a fanbase that had to wait three decades to taste domestic glory, however, Liverpool can’t afford to stand still this summer while the chasing pack behind them make moves to close the gap.
Read more about the 10 Premier League records that Liverpool could still set this season here!
Klopp discusses transfer plans
Liverpool have already seen long-term target Timo Werner snatched from under their noses by Chelsea, and while several of the Premier League’s other big hitters are believed to be planning major summer splurges, Jurgen Klopp said he expects his team to take a more modest market approach.
Speaking to Sky Sports, the German coach said: “Covid has of course influenced both sides with ins and outs, that is completely normal, and it’s just not likely that it will be the most busy summer in the world.
“But maybe at a later point in the year, if the transfer window is still open, we will know more. But this squad… look at it.
“It is not a squad you have to change now and say ‘OK, we need this position and this position’.
“We don’t have a first XI, I say we have a first 16 or 17, they can all play to the same level. But we have to use this, 100 per cent.
“We cannot spend millions and millions and millions because we want to or we think it is nice to do. We never wanted that.
“We want to strengthen this squad and this squad is strong. The problem with a strong squad is how do you improve a strong squad in the transfer market?
“It works with money, obviously, that is possible. But it never works only with money.
“You have to be creative and we try to be creative. We try to find solutions internally and there is still a lot to come: we have three or four players who can make big steps.”
Talented youngsters to get their chance?
While Klopp refused to name-check individuals by name, emerging talents like Neco Williams, Harvey Elliot, Curtis Jones and Ki-Jana Hoever have all been ear marked as potential long-term Liverpool first team players by those in the know.
However, dislodging one of Liverpool’s established stars and breaking into one of Europe’s best starting XI’s could prove a next to impossible task over the next half a decade, and while his words offer some encouragement, Klopp’s record of blooding youngsters on Merseyside is relatively poor.
The ex-Dortmund coach handed out 2,749 minutes of Premier League action to just three of the club’s academy graduates to date in 2019/20, with flying full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold accounting for 2714 of those minutes on his own.
Aforementioned duo Curtis Jones (19) and Neco Williams (16) racked up just 35 minutes of top-flight action appearances between them, while winger Harvey Elliot, who was plucked from Fulham amid much fanfare, has played just seven minutes in the Premier League since his switch from London.
Where can Liverpool improve?
Finding new ways to add to an outstanding squad without breaking the bank is an incredibly difficult task that many peaking teams have struggled to manage in the past, and Liverpool will have to recruit with clever and creative precision this summer to stay ahead of the curve.
There are several areas of their team that could do with a little rejuvenation however, not least of all in the goalkeeping department.
Cover at number one
Liverpool’s first choice stopper Alisson is one of football’s most accomplished players in his position, and any team would suffer in his absence.
However, the Reds seem worryingly short of reliable alternatives to the 27-year-old, and his Spanish back-up Adrian came up disastrously short when he was called upon to take the gloves in Liverpool’s Champions League defeat to Atletico Madrid in March.
There are high hopes at Anfield that young Irish Caoimhín Kelleher will eventually make the grade at the club, though Jurgen Klopp might still feel the need to cut Adrian loose and replace him with a more experienced pro.
Full back depth
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson are integral cogs in Jurgen Klopp’s attacking machine, as evidenced by their combined haul of 20 Premier League assists this season, though an injury to either player leaves Liverpool looking short of comparable options on either flank.
Joe Gomez often looks uncomfortable when fielded as an auxiliary right-back, while veteran utility man James Milner’s advancing years means he won’t be a viable alternative for long on the opposite side.
Youngsters Ki-Jana Hoever, Neco Williams and Tony Gallacher were given a platform to impress in the Carabao Cup earlier this season in those roles, though Liverpool conceded a whopping 10 goals in two matches against Arsenal and Aston Villa before their elimination from the competition with that trio involved.
Striker search goes on
Liverpool’s lengthy, if ultimately unsuccessful pursuit of Timo Werner indicated that the club are in the market for high-profile attacking reinforcements this summer.
With Xherdan Shaqiri, Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino failing to upset the established order and unable to offer Liverpool’s first choice trident of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino genuine competition for places, Klopp seems determined to add some more stardust to his frontline.
Liverpool have also been linked with moves for Bayer Leverkusen starlet Kai Havertz and Aston Villa talisman Jack Grealish – though neither player would provide the same goal-scoring thrust as the aforementioned German international Werner.
Ligue 1 pair Victor Osimhen and Moussa Dembele, of Lille and Lyon respectively, are players more similar in style to Werner however, and could be acquired for less than the fee that Liverpool refused to pay for the former RB Leipzig hitman.
However, Liverpool’s refusal to meet Die Roten Bullen’s demands for Werner hints at some possible financial restraints ahead of the summer transfer window, and after Klopp’s words of warning, there is a real chance that the champion’s enter next season with the same personnel.
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