Liverpool have the luxury of no European football next season after a disappointing eight place position in Jurgen Klopp’s first season at the helm. The German did manage to guide Liverpool to the Capital One Cup and Europa League final only to fall to defeat at the hands of Manchester City and Sevilla. Nevertheless, the signs are good that the former Borussia Dortmund manager will be able to build on the positives of his maiden campaign.
The Reds have spent heavily in the summer transfer window and more arrivals, as well as departures, are expected at Anfield. The club’s transfer dealings has been funded by offloading fringe players for respectable sums of money which has been re-invested into the first-team. Liverpool now have a strong squad depth meaning they are capable of challenging for the top four this season.
We assess the options Klopp has at his disposal…
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Current number one, Simon Mignolet, endured a torrid season under Klopp which left many fans on the Belgian’s back following many unconvincing performances between the sticks. Mignolet looks unable to take charge of his defence and lead the team from the back. Inconsistent performances as well as a tendency to stay on his line and led to Klopp seeking goalkeeping reinforcements.
Loris Karius arrived from Mainz in a cut-price deal worth around £4.5m. The German keeper impressed in the Bundesliga last season and is regarded as good business at the age of just 23. Despite a shaky moment against Wigan in pre-season, Karius looks set to challenge Mignolet for the starting berth at Anfield and has turned down the opportunity to represent Germany at the Olympics to fight for his place in Merseyside.
Predicted starter: Karius
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£12m signing, Nathaniel Clyne, has made the right-back position his own after a solid first season at Liverpool. Although Clyne could improve his offensively, he is quality option at the back and offers defensive stability down the right side. Luckily, Clyne managed to avoid any serious injury last season despite playing a huge amount of games for both club and country.
Should Clyne get injured, Conor Randall is the most senior right-back as cover. However, it is clear that Randall is not good enough to play for Liverpool meaning more cover at full-back could be needed. Klopp has utilised James Milner in the position once or twice meaning the German may not dip into the transfer market for another defensive signing.
Predicted starter: Clyne
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Despite an unconvincing start to his Liverpool career, Dejan Lovren was a key player for the Reds following the appointment of Klopp. His £20m move was seen as a colossal waste of money but the Croatian international was instrumental in the club’s run to the Europa League final. Lovren formed a great partnership with Mamadou Sakho but the Frenchman has only just returned to the first-team picture following accusations of a failing a drug test.
The former PSG captain was recently sent home from Liverpool’s American Tour with Klopp citing behavioural reasons as to why the 26-year-old was sent back to Melwood. This could mean that new signing Matip is the preferred centre-back alongside Lovren. New signing Ragnar Klavan was signed from Augsburg as a defensive cover and Joe Gomez will also provide cover for the centre back position.
Predicted Starters: Lovren, Matip
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Spanish defender, Alberto Moreno, endured intense criticism from Liverpool supporters towards the back end of the season. Moreno seems suited to a left midfield role as the 24-year-old seems to neglect his defensive duties too much. His defensive frailties were exposed in the Europa League final which contributed to the defeat to Sevilla.
It is clear a new left-back is needed following the sale of Brad Smith and the release of Jose Enrique. However, Klopp seems happy with his left back options after being priced out of a move for Jonas Hector. Long-term target, Ben Chilwell, signed a new deal with Premier League champions Leicester after the Foxes rejected a £7m offer. PSV defender, Jetro Willems, has been linked with a move to Anfield but Klopp seems content to use Milner in either full-back position as well as Gomez who operated at left back under Brendan Rodgers.
Predicted starter: Alberto Moreno
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Central midfield seems like an area that needs strengthening in the summer transfer window. German international, Emre Can, has the potential to thrive in the midfield role under Klopp but requires a partner who is able to provide defensive stability. Jordan Henderson struggled with injuries last season but struggles to perform in a midfield pivot of a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Question marks surround the future of Lucas Leiva who has been linked with a move to Besiktas and Klopp seems unwilling to use Milner in a central midfield position. £5m signing, Marko Grujic, has impressed during pre-season and could be given a starting berth if the Serbian international can continue to impress. Klopp could also use £25m signing Georginio Wijnaldum in a central midfield role which would allow the German to utilise more forward options.
Predicted Starters: Emre Can, Wijnaldum
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The attacking midfield positions in Klopp’s preferred 4-2-3-1 seemingly pick themselves. Philippe Coutinho was the club’s player of the season last campaign and scored vital goals against Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United. The Brazilian has made the left midfield position his own in order to accommodate Roberto Firmino through the middle. The former Hoffenheim playmaker made an instant impact during his debut season at Anfield and was hugely effective when playing as a false nine role. Fans will be expecting Firmino to push on and deliver more success in a red shirt.
Former Southampton winger, Sadio Mane, will take his place on the right side of the attacking trio which will provide much needed pace and goals to the side. The former Red Bull Salzberg forward impressed for the Saints last season and adds another dynamic to the Liverpool attack.
Adam Lallana will provide a useful option from the bench after starting to produce his best football again following Klopp’s arrival. Lazar Markovic could also remain at the club and will be looking to impress during pre-season in order to prove his worth to the club.
Predicted Starters: Mane, Firmino, Coutinho
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If Liverpool can keep Daniel Sturridge fit, they have a proven world-class talent on their hands. The former Chelsea man has managed to keep fitness levels up for the majority of Klopp’s reign but seems to have lost a yard of pace which gives him the advantage over defenders. However, the English international still possesses lethal finishing ability which was highlighted against Sevilla.
The former Borussia Dortmund boss also brought the best out of Divock Origi who impressed the Kop before an injury against Everton. The Belgian forward put on 3kg of muscle to help cope with the physicality of the Premier League and exceptional performances soon followed. The youngster has time on his side and provides an exciting option for next season. Danny Ings will also be looking to build upon an injury stricken season having impressed during pre-season.
Mario Balotelli and Christian Benteke are still at the club despite being told they can leave and could provide more options from the bench should no suitors be found.
Predicted Starter: Sturridge
Overall, Liverpool have fantastic squad depth and should be able to cope with the demands of league and domestic competitions. The Reds have a great chance of returning to the top four under Klopp following a summer of preparations to build fitness levels in order to play high-intensity football that has proved successful in the past.
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