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THE STORY IN SHORT ESSAYS

Jurgen Klopp already spent 500 million dollars on new players. And now?

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 07: Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp looks on prior to the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool at Molineux on January 7, 2019 in Wolverhampton, United Kingdom.
WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 07: Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp looks on prior to the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool at Molineux on January 7, 2019 in Wolverhampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Ever since the arrival of Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool in October 2015, the club has been on an upward trajectory. In addition to taking the club to Europa League and Champions League finals, Klopp has delivered top 4 finishes in all of his full seasons at the Merseyside.

While the German’s man-management deserves massive credit for this, what has also contributed to Liverpool’s change in fortunes, has been their hyperactivity in the transfer market. For, during Klopp’s tenure, Liverpool have spent north of $500 Million on new signings, with a significant chunk of it going to secure the services of goalkeeper Alisson Becker, midfielder Naby Keita, and defender Virgil Van Dijk.

Still, despite spending so much money in the transfer market, Liverpool still haven’t delivered a Premier League title, a trophy that every Liverpool fan craves. Their inability to produce a Premier League title makes it imperative for the club to once again go into the transfer market and come up with signings that could provide the Holy Grail.

(We provide detailed statistics about which player left the club and which player Liverpool bought for which amounts of money under the tenure of Jurgen Klopp and how cleverly Liverpool performed on transfer matters on the final page of the story.)

A DIFFERENT LIGALIVE VIDEO STORY?

Review of Liverpool’s playing system under Klopp

PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 28: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool shows appreciation to the fans with James Milner of Liverpool after the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool at Parc des Princes on November 28, 2018 in Paris, France.
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 28: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool shows appreciation to the fans with James Milner of Liverpool after the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool at Parc des Princes on November 28, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

In contrast to the 2017/18 season where Liverpool had a similar style of play regardless of the opposition, 2018/19 season saw the Reds employing two formations. That change paid dividends for the Reds as it added stability to their defense while retaining the attacking flair which took them to the final of the UEFA Champions League in 2018.  

When facing teams which didn’t sit back, Klopp turned to the more conservative 4-3-3 formation. By fielding three central midfielders, Klopp tried to provide cover to the Liverpool defense which came under much scrutiny due to its failures last season.

However, when facing teams which sit back, defend deep and try to attack on the counter, Liverpool often adopted the more attack-minded 4-2-3-1 formation. Salah was fielded at the tip of Liverpool’s attack whereas the likes of Shaqiri, Firmino, and Mane were right behind him.

Both these systems were hugely successful, as evident by Liverpool’s position in the Premier League table. Yet, there were areas in both these systems where Liverpool lacked. Strengthen in these areas and the club could challenge for the prizes with a renewed vigor next season.

FC Liverpool: 4-2-3-1 System
FC Liverpool: 4-2-3-1 System

Areas where Liverpool are well stocked

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 03: Sadio Mane of Liverpool and Mohamed Salah of Liverpool look on during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at Emirates Stadium on November 3, 2018 in London, United Kingdom.
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 03: Sadio Mane of Liverpool and Mohamed Salah of Liverpool look on during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at Emirates Stadium on November 3, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Assuming that every Liverpool fan agrees that the arrival of Alisson Becker has resolved their long-standing goalkeeping problem, here are the other areas where Liverpool are well and truly stocked.

Center backs

A mere glance at both the abovementioned formations, and it is easy to see that Liverpool don’t need to do much when it comes to the heart of their defense.

The arrival of Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton has added steel to their back four whereas Joe Gomez (before injury ruled him out for the season) also showed signs of a mature defender.

On the bench is Dejan Lovren who, despite having an underwhelming Liverpool career, enjoyed probably the best season of his Liverpool tenure. Matip wasn’t bad either as suggested by the performances he put in when both Lovren and Gomez were sidelined due to respective injuries.

Full backs

Klopp’s decision to allow Nathaniel Clyne to leave on loan in the middle of the season nearly backfired as the departure of the Englishman was followed by an untimely injury to Alexander Arnold. Liverpool felt the need for a regular right back as both Milner and Fabinho struggled when put in that position.

Still, assuming that Klopp won’t allow Clyne to make his loan move to Bournemouth permanent in the summer, there’s no reason for the Reds to go and buy a new right back. Doing that might put pressure on Alexander Arnold which, considering the form he has shown for Liverpool, would be unfair to the talented right back.

Likewise, Andrew Robertson once again showed why most Liverpool fans consider him the bargain of the 21st century for the club. Despite costing a paltry £8 million when he moved from Hull City in 2017, Robertson is putting in performances which are befitting ten-times the price Liverpool paid for his services.

Defensive midfield

Given the transfer fee Liverpool paid to secure his services, most Liverpool fans expected Fabinho to hit the road running following his €50 million move from AS Monaco in the summer. The Brazilian, however, was slow to take off and was also linked with a shock move away from Liverpool in January.

To his credit, Jurgen Klopp kept faith in his signing, a wise move considering the performances of Fabinho in the 2nd half of the 2018/19 season. The Brazilian not only silenced his critics but also became an integral part of the Liverpool team as it challenged for the title. With him in such fine form, it would be foolhardy for the Reds to sign a 2nd defensive midfielder in the upcoming summer transfer window.

FC Liverpool: 4-3-3 System
FC Liverpool: 4-3-3 System

Areas where Liverpool need new signings

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 03: James Milner of Liverpool is embraced by Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool after the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at Emirates Stadium on November 3, 2018 in London, United Kingdom.
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 03: James Milner of Liverpool is embraced by Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool after the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at Emirates Stadium on November 3, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Now that we’ve identified the areas where Liverpool have the best player for the position, let’s look at those areas where the club could strengthen in the summer transfer window.

Attacking Midfield

With the breakdown of Nabil Fekir’s transfer in the summer and the injury to Chamberlain in the early stages of the 2018/19 season, Liverpool were on their bare bones when it comes to their attacking midfield department.

True, Georginio Wijnaldum did his level best to fill that role but the Dutch midfielder isn’t a natural goal-scoring midfielder. Similar could be said about Adam Lallana whose troubles with injuries have robbed Liverpool of a potentially fantastic goal-scoring midfielder.

Under such circumstances – and when Chamberlain having a history of injuries – Liverpool could ill-afford to go into the 2019/20 season with the same set of attacking midfielders. That means that the club needs to splash the cash to strengthen in this particular position.

Wingers

Go through the list of Liverpool players that suffered injuries during the 2018/19 season, and you’d notice that the club wasn’t too lucky in this department. Still, two Liverpool players who managed to get through the season relatively unscathed were Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah.

That was a huge blessing for Liverpool as the duo chipped in to score more than 33% of all Liverpool goals during the time period. That stat indicates how much Liverpool depended on their African duo for their goal-scoring exploits.

However, with both the players involved in the African Cup of Nations in the 2019’s summer, Liverpool shouldn’t expect them to be at their best at the start of the next season. As a result, the club should make signings to relieve the burden of their attacking duo.

Striker

The 2018/19 season was a curious one for Roberto Firmino. While his energy levels and pressing of the opposition were at their terrific best yet again, the Brazilian forward wasn’t at his flying best when it came to goals scored.

However, with Origi and Sturridge on the bench – none of whom can match the high-pressing work ethic of Firmino – Klopp didn’t have many options to choose from.

Therefore, the summer transfer window gives Klopp a chance to bring in a new striker who, even if he isn’t world class, should match the Brazilian’s work rate and give Liverpool another attacking outlet.

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