Sensible summer signings: Liverpool

by Daniel Roodt

Since Jurgen Klopp arrived at Liverpool in 2015, the Merseyside club has gone from strength to strength.

In 2017/18, they were runners-up in the UEFA Champions League Final. In 2018/19, Klopp won his first silverware with the club after defeating Spurs in the final of the same competition. This season, they looked set to claim their first Premier League title before football was abruptly halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite The Reds’ stellar league performances this season, they require several transfers to provide backup and competition for their starters.

The squad also needs new blood to avoid the same fate as Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side who have stuttered their way to 2nd in the Premier League this season.

There are several positions that Liverpool needs to strengthen. This article will make suggestions as to what realistic transfers the club can make to reinforce these critical positions.

The three positions that Liverpool should look to bolster are center forward, central midfield, and left-back.

Liverpool’s front three of Salah, Mane and Firmino have scored a combined 49 goals in all competitions this season.

Centre Forward:


Liverpool’s starting three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino are perhaps one of the most feared frontlines in world football.

However, there are some issues related to their forward region. The first is the lack of suitable backups, with players like Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi nowhere near the standard of those ahead of them.

A suitable remedy for this would be RasenBallsport (RB) Leipzig striker, Timo Werner, who has been in fine form this season.

The German hitman has amassed 21 goals and seven assists in just 26 Bundesliga appearances this campaign.

This form is no flash in the pan, though, as Werner has scored over 12 goals in each of the last four seasons in the Bundesliga appearances.

He is also scoring at a sustainable rate, having barely outperformed his expected goals (xG) this season. This indicates that his goal-scoring rate is consistent and not reliant on moments of brilliance or luck.

Expected goals (xG) is a metric which is defined by Understat as “a statistical measure of the quality of chances created and conceded.” It essentially predicts the quality of a shot based on a number of parameters such as the distance and position.

However, the same cannot be said for Liverpool’s starting striker, Roberto Firmino. The Brazillian has massively underperformed this season, scoring a poultry eight goals, with xG suggesting that number should be just over 15.

The deal for the German looks set to be completed either in the upcoming transfer window or at the start of the following season due to Werner’s admiration for Jurgen Klopp and the club.

The striker has described Klopp as “the best coach in the world” and has made it clear that his favoured destination is Liverpool.

With a 60 million Euro release clause and an admiration for the club, this deal looks to be a no-brainer. The only factor that could delay his move to Merseyside is the uncertainty regarding the club’s finances due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner has been in impressive form this season leading his team’s charge in the Champions and the Bundesliga.

Central midfield:

Liverpool’s midfield has long divided opinion. Many see it as too workmanlike and not contributing much in an attacking sense. Others see it as a stable platform from which their stellar front three can launch devastating attacks without worrying about being exposed defensively.

Two of their key midfielders in Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum are fast approaching 30. Wijnaldum is also approaching the last year of his contract and appears to be no closer to signing an extension.

This, combined with the patch form and injury record of Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, means that Liverpool are not as well-stocked as it seems.

A perfect addition to this midfield would be Norwich City’s Todd Cantwell. Cantwell is young, versatile, home-grown, and would likely accept a bit-part role in the team.

He will probably be available at a cut-price fee due to Norwich likely being relegated and the COVID-19 pandemic. This will be an immense positive for the Reds due to the increasing financial uncertainty due to the pandemic.

Cantwell has scored six goals and gotten two assists this season and has looked like a player with room to grow despite his flaws.

Cantwell is only 22, and Klopp is a world-class manager, and these flaws will likely be ironed out under the German’s watchful eye.

However, if the Cantwell transfer were to fall through, some suitable options would be Emiliano Buendia, Fabian Ruiz or Kai Havertz. The latter two would only be options in the 2021/2022 season, due to the current financial situation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Left-back:

Liverpool’s fullbacks in Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold are crucial to the way the Reds play and are considered one of the most exceptional full-back pairings in the world.

Both Robertson and Alexander-Arnold attempted significantly more crosses than Liverpool’s starting wingers. They are responsible for providing width and putting crosses into the box as well as providing an extra attacking threat in and around the box.

However, similar to their forward line, the lack of adequate replacements means that a long term injury to either full-back, especially Robertson, would have a notable impact on the way Liverpool play.

Currently, Andy Robertson’s backup is 34-year-old midfielder James Milner. While Milner is a fine player, he is fast approaching the end of his career.

This means that Liverpool needs a young backup that can suitably deputise when Robertson is either injured or needs a rest.

Using Smarterscout, a programme that allows you to find players of similar styles, one of the more notable options was Valencia’s Jose Gaya.

Gaya is 25 years old and has been capped seven times by the Spanish National Team.

While he is nowhere near as prolific in terms of assists, he completes close to one more dribble per game than Robertson.

He would add another option for Liverpool if they wanted to change things up in a game as he would present a different kind of threat to Robertson.

Gaya is the inferior player, and the only thing on par with the Scotsman is his ball retention ability. However, he would be a perfect backup for Robertson and would allow Klopp to rest one of his key players, without worrying about a spectacular drop in quality.

Gaya would also likely improve under the tutelage of the German and would be an excellent addition to Liverpool’s squad.

If Liverpool were unable to get Gaya through the door this season, they could look at signing Porto’s Alex Telles or Borussia Monchengladbach’s Ramy Bensebaini.

A key issue in terms of these transfers is that these positions may not be addressed in the upcoming transfer window. This is due to Liverpool’s reluctance to spend in a time of financial uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in a significant loss of revenue.

However, these additions to Liverpool’s squad would consolidate their position at the top of the game and would allow them to carry on competing on multiple fronts for the silverware their fans desire.

Sources:

The Atheltic UK

Understat (xG numbers)

Whoscored.com (Baseline statistics)

Transfermarkt (Genereal player info)

Smaerterscout (Player comparisons and statistics)

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