With the release of the fixtures for the 2017/18 on June 14, 2017, the season has officially commenced. As a Kop, the permutation for next season regarding the expected points per month has commenced. However, the club has not been active on the transfer market where the required tools are expected to be procured for the new season. While other clubs such as Manchester City, Manchester United, and even Arsenal have commenced signing of players for next season, Liverpool can only boast of Dominic Solanke, a free buy from Chelsea. From the reports in the newspaper, players have shown their preference in signing, but there is something still missing from the deals being concluded.
A review of the club performances last season revealed that there was a need for a Top 4 finish. A section of the fans are of the opinion that the club should have ended in a better position than the fourth position if Jurgen Klopp, the club manager had recruited from the January transfer window and there are clear facts to back this position. As at Dec 31, 2016, Liverpool was sitting in the second place with only 6 points away from leaders and eventually winner Chelsea. These set of fans including this writer believed that the coach should have beefed up the squad for the league challenge during the January window, but the manager thought otherwise. The consequence was the collapse of the title challenge as the club amassed only 6 points for the next six games between Dec 2016 and Feb 2017. By Feb 28, 2017, the club occupied the 5th position on the log with a massive 11 points from Chelsea, the table leader. The remaining weeks till May was used for the fourth-place struggle which was achieved by one point above Arsenal in fifth position.
Because of the above issues, the fans believe the club should have learned its lessons and as such have concrete plans for the summer transfer market. The fans are optimistic of a busy transfer more so after Jurgen Klopp’s comment after Middlesbrough’s game that the club has completed the preliminary discussions with the identified targets. Based on the current happenings as of today, this assertion by Klopp appears untrue, or maybe there are circumstances beyond the manager’s control. One of such circumstances is the ridiculous issue surrounding the Virgil van Dijk (VVD) approach and the subsequent apology from the club to Southampton. This incident not only embarrassed the club and its fans but has extinguished the faint hope of this writer in any major transfer coup considering Klopp’s known approach in the transfer market. From previously bookmarking sites for the latest information regarding the club activities in the market to adopting a siddon-look approach after the VVD transfer issues.
As the official transfer market opens on the first day of July, the fans including this writer hope and pray that the club pursues the transfer targets mentioned below. The club needs urgent reinforcement in some key areas, and there is a need for the right players to be signed at the right time as preseason is expected to commence early July. The names linked with the club were reviewed based on the current situation of things in the club. As shown from last season performance, the club needs depth in the squad, and this should include quality signings, not average players that have donned the color of the club in recent years. Below is this fan’s wishlist from the transfer market:
GOALKEEPING: Last season, the club struggled in this department until February when there was some improvement from Mignolet and Karius. Also, Danny Ward, a loanee to Huddersfield Town continued to demonstrate his potential over the years, helping the club to the Premier League. However, his future is yet to be decided as at the time of this article.
Joe Hart and Jordan Pickford were named earlier as been linked to the club, but with the current situation regarding Pickford (agreed terms with Everton) only Hart remains in the hat. Taking into consideration his performance at Hampden Park last weekend, one would prefer status quo than the addition of ‘calamity Joe.’
DEFENSE: There is no club with the ambition of winning titles that can do so with the current defensive set up in Liverpool. The club conceded 42 goals last season, and as such, there is a need for reinforcement. The requirement includes a left full back and two central defenders if Mamadou Sakho is sold as its being speculated. The club realized this fact, and this can be one of the reason for their desperation for VVD signature. With VVD out of the equation as stated in the apology tendered by the club (though there are rumour that the player is still insisting on leaving Southampton for Liverpool), other names mentioned include Stefan De Vrij of Lazio, Faouzi Ghoulam (Napoli), Andy Robertson (Hull City), Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough), Michael Keane (Burnley), Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton) and Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham). As a Kop, one would expect the club to review the VVD issue and pursue it if there is any meaningful lead. Starting with the left full-back, Ryan Sessegnon is a good prospect for the position. He has the age on his side, and there is no need for him to adapt to the language and culture of the country as he currently plies his trade with Fulham in the lower division. Though the club appears to have cooled off their interest due to Spurs pursuit of the same player but happenings in recent days indicates that there is a need for a renewed approach for the player. The second option for the left fullback position should be the Algerian Faouzi Ghoulam. As for the central defenders, VVD remain the number one option while Kalidou Koulibaly and Stefan De Vrij appear decent alternatives. For a club of Liverpool’s ambition for next season and with due respect to these players, Micheal Keane, Andy Robertson, Ryan Bertrand and Steve Gibson are average players that cannot fit into the requirements at this level.
MIDFIELD: Currently, the club has enough players in this department but would require depth as the club campaign in all fronts next season including the Champions League. Also, the event of Jan/Feb 2017 has shown that most of the players in this department are prone to injuries. According to transfer rumors, the club is still dilly dallying with AS Roma for the purchase of Mohammed Salah. For me, Salah would fit perfectly into Klopp plans and we, the fans are looking forward to the prospect of having Salah and Mane operating in wide areas; William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon), Sergej Milinkovic (SS Lazio), Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, Demarai Garay (Leicester City) and Gelson Martins (Sporting Lisbon) can be considered as alternative additions for central midfield and the wings as well. From these lots, the club needs two players, and this includes a defensive midfielder (if the contract issue with Emre Can remains unsolved).
For the defensive midfield role, the club should pursue Willam Carvalho if and only if we lose both Emre Can and Lucas Leiva. If the club loses Lucas Leiva as its being speculated, a younger player from the youth team can be promoted, e.g., Kevin Stewart or Pedro Chirivella The second option in this regard should be Sergej Milinkovic. As for the other midfielder/winger, Salah appears 80% done, but if we are unable to get him (with Liverpool in the transfer market anything can happen)
ATTACK: Dominic Solanke is confirmed as a Liverpool player for next season, and with his exploits at the FIFA U20 World Cup, expectations are high from the fans. However, if the club is serious about its ambition next season, then Solanke cannot deliver the goals. For me, Solanke is a younger version of Divork Origi. As a fan, the club should resolve the Daniel Sturridge situation in time, however, with or without Sturridge, the club needs two quality strikers with proven records. Lacazette and Keita fit this description perfectly. To be frank, this is the department that the club needs to break the bank to match their ambition
As a fan, Alexander Lacazette perfectly fits this role. Though I would have preferred Pierre Aubameyang but with PSG in the picture for his signature, realistically it would be a mountain too much to climb with these American owners. The same applies to the rumor linking us with Kylian Mbappe. As a fan, this would be a perfect signing for us but with Real Madrid and Manchester City as part of his suitors, the same verdict as that of Aubameyang as far as this writer is concerned. If these transfers happen as I pray so, it would be a major coup. Maybe, we can erase some of the embarrassment caused by the VVD saga.
Of all the names linked with the club which include Dusan Tadic (Southampton, our ‘feeder team’), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid) and Keita Balde (SS Lazio), I would prefer Alexander Lacazette and Keita Balde. These players are within our reach, and as a serious club that we should be, we have to go for them with all seriousness. For me, Tadic is too average while Asensio won’t leave Real Madrid as he already stated in one of his recent interviews leaving only Lacazette and Keita. Lacazette first choice is Atletico Madrid but the FIFA transfer ban makes that unlikely; we should then compete with Arsenal for the player. Arsenal playing in the Europa League should be an advantage for us if we can put our act together. As for Keita, Sadio Mane influence can be exploited, marched with proper negotiations by the Liverpool team.
Finally, it is important to note that next season should be tagged the season of reckoning for Jurgen Klopp and as such he needs to get his acts together. As stated during his presentation ceremony after signing for the club in October 2016, Jurgen Klopp promised to deliver the long awaited EPL title within three years and next season would be a season close to the promised date. As a fan, I am of the opinion that the club especially the newly appointed CEO Peter Moore should use the remainder of this transfer window to atone for the VVD sin. The club needs to make a major statement in the transfer market only then can we hope for a title push next season.
DREAM TEAM FOR NEXT SEASON:
Goalkeeper: Mignolet / Karius
Right Full Back: Clyne / Trent / (Joe Gomez)
Left Full Back: Sessagnon** / Moreno (Milner)/ Joe Gomez
Central Defence: Matip / VVD** Sakho (Koulibaly**)/Lovren
Defensive Midfield: Emre Can / William Carvalho** / Lucas Leiva / Pedro Chrivaella
Central Midfield: Henderson / Wijnaldum / Milner) / Stewart / Milinkovic**
Attacking Midfield/Wingers: Mane /Coutinho/Firmino/Sallah**
Strikers/Centre Forward: Lacazette**/ Keita**/ Strurridge / Solanke / Origi / Ings
** players on the wishlist