In part two, we look at the potential options available in the summer transfer window in midfield and in the striking department.
Many big names have been linked with the Reds; many from Jurgen Klopp’s former club, Borussia Dortmund. The Reds also have options returning from loans such as Lazar Markovic and Mario Balotelli.
Midfield has been identified as Liverpool’s biggest area of weakness despite having multiple options in the centre of the park. Emre Can has been a mainstay in the side since Jurgen Klopp’s appointment and has hit a rich vein of form leading to suggestions he could be a future captain of the side. However, Jordan Henderson’s form since returning from injury has fuelled reports that our captain could be sold in the summer.
Can will be kept in as one part of midfield pivot with doubt surrounding Henderson’s suitability to the role. Liverpool have identified as Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Granit Xhaka as the perfect partner for our German midfielder in the engine room. Reports suggest that signing Xhaka has been made top priority over the summer. Arsenal and Manchester City have also been linked with the Swiss international meaning the Reds face stiff competition for his signature. The 23-year-old has also been targeted by Bayern Munich as a long-term replacement for Xabi Alonso and has been dubbed the ‘young Schweinsteiger’.
Liverpool have been lacking a classy defensive midfielder who can really dictate play and start attacks from the back. Although Can has shown potential, he lacks a partner to utilise the system effectively. Xhaka has a large range of passing ability and has also improved his defensive game. In the Bundesliga this season, he has completed a total of 100 defensive actions. Compared to our current squad players, only Can has made more. Henderson has made a total of just 37 defensive actions highlighting his ineffectiveness for a deeper role in the side.
Udinese midfielder Piotr Zielinski, who is currently on loan at Empoli, has also been identified as a top target in the summer. The Polish international has been utilised as a box-to-box midfielder in the Serie A this season; a role where he has flourished. The 21-year-old has become the focal point of Empoli’s best-attacking play and has made 45 chances this season, more than Cesc Fabregas, and registered four assists. Henderson, however, has created only 17 chances for his team-mates this season. Zielinski would be available for around £11m and would give Klopp a useful option in the middle of the park.
Other potential targets: Fernando, Ilkay Gundogan, Leon Goretzka, Yaya Toure
Bayern Munich playmaker Mario Gotze is likely to dominate the headlines over the summer after becoming disillusioned with life at the Allianz Arena. Pep Guardiola has favoured other options this season and has made just eight appearances this season. A reunion with Klopp has left Liverpool fans watering at the mouth. An attacking trio consisting of Gotze, Phillipe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino would leave Liverpool with a creative hub of dreams. The 23-year-old admitted that he still speaks to his former manager but says they have not discussed a move. Liverpool face competition from Arsenal and Juventus for the German midfielder. Despite his lack of appearances, Gotze has scored one goal and registered three assists in just 473 minutes of football which highlights his creative ability. With his contract expiring at the end of next season, Gotze would be a dream signing and a real statement of intent.
Other potential targets: Felipe Anderson, Leroy Sane, Lorenzo Insigne
One of Liverpool’s biggest problems is a lack of width. Jordon Ibe is the only recognised wide-man currently at the club with Lazar Markovic on loan at Fenerbahce. Despite reports suggesting that the Serbian will be given a chance to prove himself when he returns from Turkey, Klopp is in need of more options out wide.
Although a reunion with Borussia Dortmund star Marco Reus would be what dreams are made of, it is unlikely the Germany international would make the switch to Anfield. PSG’s Brazilian winger, Lucas Moura, is a more realistic option on the flanks. Although Lucas is a huge name in world football and a lack of Champions League football could prove a stumbling block, the 23-year-old is reportedly unsettled at the club. If he decides to leave the club, interest will be high and he will not come cheap. However, he would give us a world-class wide man that we have been seriously lacking. According to Squakwa, he has accrued a performance score of 659 this season which eclipses the scores of the likes of Eden Hazard, David Silva and Santi Cazorla this season.
A more realistic signing would be Stuttgart’s Filip Kostic. Labelled the ‘Serbian Robben’, Kostic has fuelled rumours of a departure by rejecting a new contract with the Bundesliga club. The 23-year-old has outlined that he wants to play in Europe next season and would be open to moving to the Premier League. Kostic is a hard-working winger who is capable of operating on either flank. He does not shy away from his defensive duties meaning that he would fit perfectly into a counter-attacking system. He has scored five goals and registered four assists this season but would not come cheap with reports suggesting £24m would prise him away from Germany.
Other potential targets: Kevin Volland, Leandro Paredes, Goncalo Guedes
Christian Benteke is likely to be allowed to leave the club in the summer as he has failed to adapt to Klopp’s system. The Belgian has been linked with West Ham and Juventus and will be allowed to move on for the right price. Injury-prone Daniel Sturridge has also been linked with French giants PSG in a £50m move. With Danny Ings set to return from injury next season and Divock Origi showing promising signs, Klopp may resist the urge to spend big on a striker. However, we identify options which could be available to the German.
An exciting signing from Spain would be Athletic Bilbao’s Inaki Williams. Although Williams is primarily used as an attacking midfielder, he can play anywhere across the front line. The 21-year-old would add serious pace to the Liverpool attack and has been compared to Gareth Bale following some excellent performances this season. Reports suggest that Liverpool had sent scouts to watch the Spaniard earlier in the season. However, Bilbao were able to tie their prized asset down to a new contract in January which increased his release clause meaning that a move should not be ruled out in the summer.
Hoffenheim forward Kevin Volland is another top target for the Reds in the summer. Whilst scouting Firmino last season, the club were very aware of his German team-mate’s talents. His current club are in a relegation fight meaning a move could be on the cards. Volland has a £14m release clause in his contract and has netted seven goals and completed five assists in the Bundesliga this season. The German is a versatile option who can operate as the central forward or as a right winger. Signing Volland would also re-unite the forward with his former team-mate Firmino which proved to be a fruitful partnership last season. Between them last season, they scored 17 goals and recorded 15 assists suggesting Volland would thrive for Liverpool should the signing be completed.
Other potential targets: Shane Long, Lucas Alario, Sadio Mane, Alexandre Lacazette