Liverpool’s season has come to an end, and it was another trophyless campaign for the Anfield club.
Jurgen Klopp’s team started the game well, but as soon as Mohamed Salah was forced off due to injury it was clear Real were the better team.
The one positive for Klopp was that he was clearly shown which areas of his team need to be improved this summer.
Liverpool have already got one signing wrapped up, with Naby Keita purchased last summer from RB Leipzig to move this summer, while talks are said to be ongoing over a deal for Nabil Fekir, the Lyons attacking midfielder.
But how could Liverpool line-up next season if Klopp uses the transfer market to fix the problem areas in his squad? You can see a potential Reds XI below…
* * *
Simon Mignolet has been expected to leave Liverpool for a number of months, as Loris Karius usurped him as the Reds’ No1. Karius had enjoyed a good season in goal under Klopp, and many felt he had done enough to stop Liverpool signing a new keeper this summer.
That all changed on May 26, when Karius made two huge mistakes to hand the European Cup to Real Madrid. He allowed Karim Benzema to open the scoring in Real’s 3-1 win by literally throwing the ball at the forward’s foot, and then conceded the third goal by letting Gareth Bale’s powerful shot through his butterfingers.
Liverpool were linked with Alisson, the Roma and Brazil glovesman, last summer, and they are likely to renew their interest in him this year. Jan Oblak of Atletico Madrid and Stoke’s Jack Butland are other targets, but Klopp seems to prefer Alisson, and, as he proved with Virgil van Dijk, the German will do all he can to get his first-choice target – even if other players are cheaper and available sooner.
DEFENCE: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dejan Lovren, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson
The defence is the most stable part of Klopp’s team, and probably doesn’t need improving this summer. Alexander-Arnold and Robertson are perfect full-backs for the German’s system, and Van Dijk’s arrival in January has made a world of difference to the consistency and reliability of Liverpool’s defence. Even Lovren has looked impressive since Van Dijk started partnering him at the back.
The biggest defensive need for Klopp heading into the summer is to improve his rotation options; Joel Matip has never truly settled at Anfield, Ragnar Klavan is just not good enough, and Alberto Moreno cannot be asked to do anything on a football pitch particularly well. Klopp could do a lot worse than sign a couple of reliable back-up defenders this summer.
MIDFIELD: Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, Nabil Fekir
Agreeing the signing of Naby Keita last summer was a brilliant move by Liverpool as they secured one of the finest midfielders in European football ahead of a number of their rivals. He will walk into Liverpool’s midfield next season and provide further quality to a trio often overrun against superior opposition; against Real the Henderson, Milner and Wijnaldum midfield never matched up against Casemiro, Modric, Kroos and Isco.
Henderson is good enough in that shielding role, and there’s no point upgrading a player who provides what is necessary, while Milner will be a suitable rotation option.
The main weakness in Liverpool’s midfield is the lack of creativity, despite Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain impressively stepping up since Philippe Coutinho’s departure to Barcelona in January. Oxlade-Chamberlain can be relied upon to work hard and test the opposition goalkeeper, but he is far below Coutinho’s level.
Even with Salah, Firmino and Mane in attack, Liverpool need a player who can unlock defences from deep, and it seems Klopp is aware of that as he wants to bring Nabil Fekir to Anfield. The Lyons playmaker performs best in attacking midfield but he can also cover on the wing or as a centre forward. His brilliance on the ball makes Fekir the perfect replacement for Coutinho, and Liverpool want to get this deal completed quickly.
ATTACK: Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane
As long as none of Liverpool’s attacking trio leave this summer, the Reds will start next season with perhaps the best front three in European football. Salah, Firmino and Mane complement each other perfectly, although there will be doubts heading into the new campaign as to whether Salah especially will be able to repeat the season he had in 2017/18.
Nonetheless, even if Salah does fade slightly, he will still provide Liverpool will incredible pace on the wing and defenders will be terrified of him; expect to see Salah double marked for much of the campaign.