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Five issues in Arne Slot’s in-tray at Liverpool

Arne Slot has officially begun work as Liverpool’s new head coach and the Dutchman will have plenty on his agenda during his first summer in charge.

We’ve looked at five issues in Arne Slot’s in-tray at Liverpool this summer.

Build on what you’ve inherited

For some, Slot is facing an impossible task. Jurgen Klopp was not only a brilliant manager, but a fantastic character and figurehead of the club.

Klopp built a special connection with the Liverpool supporters that contributed to some of the Reds’ biggest nights under his leadership. Slot does not possess the same room-illuminating persona as his predecessor but he has a character the club’s fanbase can connect with.

Starting well will be important and the Premier League fixture list has aided his cause. Demonstrating a clear philosophy early on will be crucial to keeping the supporters – particularly those fearful of change – that Slot is the right coach to continue the success of the Klopp era.

Sort contract issues for big names

Liverpool face a summer of uncertainty on the contract front, with arguably the club’s three biggest names having entered the final 12 months of their deals. Virgil van Dijk, Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold all have deals that expire in 2025, leaving Liverpool at risk of losing the key trio for nothing at the end of the upcoming season.

Salah continues to attract interest from the Saudi Pro League after Liverpool rejected a £150m offer from Al-Itthad for his services last summer and a decision will need to be made on a player who, despite another impressive return in 2023-24, turned 32 last month.

Van Dijk, who celebrates his 33rd birthday next month, is another whose future needs solving. The Dutch defender is the Liverpool captain and a player Slot will want to lean on in his first season at the helm.

Alexander-Arnold’s situation is perhaps the most precarious. At 25, the right-back is approaching the prime of his career and few have envisaged an exit for the boyhood Liverpool supporter. However, there has been little breakthrough in negotiations over a new deal, with Real Madrid monitoring developments.

Decide Alexander-Arnold’s best role

Once Alexander-Arnold’s future is decided, another decision looms. The right-back has spent increasing minutes in midfield under Jurgen Klopp, flourishing in a hybrid role between full-back and the engine room.

However, a full-time move to midfield has not proven to be smooth with England. Alexander-Arnold has attracted criticism during England’s opening two games at Euro 2024 after starting in a central berth alongside Declan Rice.

A unique – if occasionally polarising – talent, Slot must decide on which position maximises his output and least exposes his shortcomings.

Improve the enigma

Darwin Nunez might just be the most talked-about player in the Liverpool squad. Ever since the Uruguay international arrived from Benfica in a deal that could reach a club-record £85m, he has split opinion.

His debut campaign saw Nunez score 15 goals in all competitions, before bettering that return with 18 goals and 13 assists during a productive second season at Anfield.

The 25-year-old, however, has been far from clinical in a Liverpool shirt. Last season, Nunez had the worst big-chance conversion rate of forwards who had at least 10 clear-cut chances, missing 26 of 32 such opportunities.

His 11 league goals came from an xG of 18, the worst underperformance in the entire Premier League. Nunez has plenty of positives but the loose ends need tightening up at this stage of his career. A return of nine goals in his last six caps for Uruguay offers encouragement.

Succession signings needed in key areas

Liverpool’s success under Jurgen Klopp was built on a formidable spine, but the cornerstones of that era are either gone or approaching the end.

Virgil van Dijk (32), Mohamed Salah (32) and Andy Robertson (30) will need replacing in the upcoming transfer windows, while Liverpool failed to secure an elite long-term option to replace Fabinho last summer. Wataru Endo arrived from Stuttgart but, at 31, the Japan international will not be part of the long-term rebuild under the new head coach.

A left-sided centre-back, right-sided forward, and defensive midfielder should all be on the agenda for Slot’s first summer in charge.

Read – The best teams that never won the European Championship

See more – Five Premier League players who need their futures sorted out this summer

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