Jürgen Klopp, in his first full season as Liverpool manager, has fired the Reds back into the top four after what ultimately has been a successful year. Regardless, there are problems facing the side that were clear for all to see throughout the season; in particular during the club’s struggles in the early months on 2017.
For the Anfield side to compete in the Champions League next season, whilst making a strong push in the Premier League and cup competitions, it is clear that owners Fenway Sports Group must back Klopp with legitimate and major investment.
FSG and Klopp
Liverpool’s American owners, headed by principle owner John W. Henry and chairman Tom Werner, have divided opinion among supporters. One view is that they haven’t invested enough in the club and that signings often haven’t been of the required and desired standard. The alternative view is that the owners have helped boost the club’s stature after purchasing the club in 2010, aiding the club in wiping the huge amounts of debt left by previous owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Additionally, the development of Anfield’s Main Stand is something the owners should be greatly credited for. What’s clear in this transfer window is that the owners now need to back the manager and develop the squad.
Firstly, defensive re-investment is required. The Reds defence conceded an average on 1.11 goals per game in 2016/17, with a total on 42 goals conceded. A consistent centre-back to partner Joel Matip in the heart of the Liverpool back line, along with a solid left-back to take the pressure off James Milner, should be high on the transfer agenda.
Additionally, a box-to-box central midfielder who can make a considerable impact from the get go, such as RB Leipzig’s Naby Keita, would be a terrific addition to Klopp’s arsenal. Another quick, versatile and creative winger to complement Sadio Mané is greatly required to further bolster the team’s supply to the attackers.
Finally, despite Liverpool’s forte being attacking play, an out-and-out striker may be the difference in the Reds being top four contenders and potential title contenders. Depite being hard to find, pinning down a top quality striker, such as Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette, would be a huge statement.
Despite promising claims that the club were intending to spend around £200million in this transfer window, the owners and club officials have faced heavy criticism over the potential transfers of Mohamed Salah and in particular Virgil van Dijk.
Salah, the Egyptian winger who netted 19 goals and clocked up 12 assists for Roma in 2016/17, has been heavily linked with a move to the Reds, but recent negotiations between Roma and Liverpool have stifled. The Reds’ reluctance to pay the asking price that’s upwards of £35million has led to a stalling in the potential transfer, with the club looking elsewhere for alternatives, such as Sporting Lisbon’s Gelson Martins.
More recently, any chances of strengthening defensively have taken a huge hit following the club’s handling of negotiations with Southampton defender Virgil Van Dijk. The Saints accused Liverpool of approaching the 25-year-old, which led to Liverpool’s statement of apology. The club statement also confirms that Liverpool has ended any possible interest in the player as a result.
So, this looks to have been a terrible start to what looked like a promising summer. The club’s handling of the situation has been nothing short of comical, and FSG have been at the forefront of criticism. As Van Dijk’s signing now looks in doubt, with the Mohamed Salah situation still stifling, the Reds may have to look elsewhere to make some significant summer signings.
The Rest of the Summer
In the past week, Liverpool have encountered significant hurdles as they seek a successful summer window. Michael Edwards, someone with very little transfer experience before his promotion as Liverpool Sporting Director, will need to bounce back and nail down some signings in the near future.
If Liverpool want to compete at the top, the owners will need to try and match the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea in terms of investment made in quality players.