With just over a week to go before the new Premier League season begins, we grade each area of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool squad.
There is can be no doubt that Liverpool have jumped up a few grades with their summer recruitment between the sticks. Alisson Becker is an A rated goalkeeper and the club appears to have finally signed Pepe’s true successor.
However the fact the Mingolet and Karius are still around means we have no adequate back up options.
If Klopp is contemplating playing Alisson in every game this season then it may work but goalkeepers can still suffer fatigue.
The kids are highly rated but it would be unfair and dangerous for either Kamil Grabara or Coaimhin Kelleher to be unexpectedly thrust into first team action. A decent back up is still required.
Loses points for how exposed they are to injury.
Again, like the goalkeeper situation, there has been a massive improvement in this department. Over the last twelve months Robertson and Van Dijk have taken the club from a mid-table defensive unit to a back four capable of winning major honours.
Lovren has come on leaps and bounds playing alongside the imposing Van Dijk, and looks a transformed player. Gomez and Alexander-Arnold are vital first team players with bags of quality despite their youth. Clyne, Klavan and Matip are reliable, decent defenders on their day also, but you can’t help but worry about injury.
Another first team body would be a real tension soother for the fans. The quality is there for sure, it just needs a little insurance.
If you’d have said to most Reds that Emre Can will sulk off on a free but Keita and Fabinho will be signed in his place, they’d have all snapped your arm off for it.
For those who despaired at the thin squad and winced at the visible fatigue on display in Kiev, Keita and Fabinho are blessed relief. Liverpool desperately needed to strengthen Klopp’s engine room.
With Oxlade-Chamberlain out for most of the campaign, it was vital to ensure real quality was added. Keita is the headliner. A menace from midfield, he is capable of bursting forward and breaking deep sitting lines with aggressive runs and beautifully crafted passing. He has the energy to press and destroy opposition play as well.
If Keita is the headliner then Fabinho must not be a forgotten sideshow. The Brazilian has been brought in to do a lot of the stuff that goes unnoticed. And yet he adds that bit of extra finesse and quality. Able to bring the ball out at his feet and pick a pass. He could prove to be vital to our build up play this season.
Lallana is back as well which is a real plus. He must be nursed through a season and allowed time to find his rhythm once more. Adam Lallana firing on all cylinders is a truly massive boost to any squad.
The forward three were a joy to behold last season. Salah, Firmino and Mane picked up the extra slack after Coutinho departed and never looked back. They are capable of staggering, constantly shifting attacking play that are the envy of most football sides in the world.
They too though looked exhausted towards the back end of last season and had played a dangerous number of games each. Far too many. This is why Shaqiri’s signing was so vital.
The Swiss International adds power, pace, flair and perhaps importantly, depth. His transfer from Stoke for £13 million made real sense and he can be used as vital load bearer this season.
Daniel Sturridge and Dominic Solanke can also provide quality cover, between them they could chip in with some vital contributions. Perhaps Sturridge, like Lallana, can be nursed through a campaign and finally show us all, once more, the player he truly is.
Overall verdict on the squad: A
Extra points given for the signings and because, well, its Klopp, innit!
For the first time in a Premier League season, Liverpool are going into a new campaign without the dire need of multiple key transfers. The only weakness in the squad are just the odd couple of players for extra cover.
The mentality will also be vital this season. Starting with West Ham at home in few days time, Liverpool are likely to face opponents putting in the exra yards whenever they face off with the Reds. Goalkeepers player better, defensive lines hold out for longer, tackles and blocks are made that wouldn’t ordinarily happen. Liverpool must be able to rise above all of that and find a way to win regardless.
Whether or not all of the above will be enough remains to be seen, but, we are about to find out one way or another.