In a stark contrast to last season, Liverpool have been quiet this transfer window.
Harvey Elliott and Sepp Van de Berg are future prospects and will likely not be in Klopp’s first team plans, at least not regularly. Adrian provides decent depth for the goalkeeping position, which is useful, but not all that impactful on the squad.
It has caused some fans to worry. With Man City spending big on Rodri and reportedly Joao Cancelo, it seems like the gap between the two sides hasn’t become any smaller. Yet to characterize this window as a negative for Liverpool would be to misunderstand how they got to where they are and the kind of manager Jurgen Klopp is.
Klopp is a coach who has always prioritizes his system over individual players. His counter-pressing system is predicated on the team being able to execute his tactical instructions as a unit. It’s a complex style that takes time to inculcate into a group of players, and relies on strong individual relationships within the team to understand how to operate as a collective.
That emphasis on adhering to a system over individual players has extracted a level of performance out of his players that most people wouldn’t think was possible. Whether it’s his signings such as Mane, Salah, Firmino, and Robertson, or players already at the club such as Milner and Henderson, Klopp has been able to improve his players within the system he implements. It’s integral to his coaching, and has been a key element to his success.
Obviously, Klopp has made countless signings as Liverpool coach. His system needs components of a certain baseline quality, with certain attributes to perform certain functions. But his squad has the necessary ability to execute Klopp’s tactics at an exceptionally high level. Moreover, there’s plenty of malleability within Klopp’s squad that was untapped last season.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, for example, could prove an excellent option for Klopp this season. Due to Chamberlain’s long-term injury, Klopp had to adapt his system in the absence of a creative central midfielder. He had his midfield become more industrious and defensive while allowing his fullbacks greater creative license. Should teams key in on Liverpool’s fullbacks this season, Chamberlain could be used to exploit this defensive change by the opposition.
Joe Gomez could continue to improve and become as a better partner for Van Djik than Joel Matip, Rhian Brewster could provide a useful option in the forward line, Adam Lallana could still have something to offer, and players such as Keita and Fabinho have yet to hit the heights for Klopp, and could further improve the side next season.
Liverpool have been linked with various players this summer, such as Bruno Fernandes and Arsenal’s new signing Nicolas Pepe. But signing these types of players would disrupt the carefully constructed and delicately balanced squad Liverpool possess.
Transfers are risky, cohesion is reliable, and Klopp would be wise not to disrupt Liverpool’s cohesion with signings to compete for starting positions that Liverpool already possess sufficient competition and quality for.
There could, however, be some value in buying players as backups. Just as with Adrian, Liverpool could have targeted players who would be willing to play minimal games but could provide Klopp with strength in depth in the event of injuries or fatigue.
Fullback is an area in which they could strengthen, especially with the injury to Nathaniel Clyne. A back up left-back and right-back could be useful should one of their ace fullbacks get injured. They could possibly look for someone to provide an alternative to Roberto Firmino, given that Origi isn’t necessarily a traditional number nine and Brewster is still young. A target man could bring Liverpool a useful option to change games, but it’s not a pressing concern.
Injuries at fullback could make Klopp regret having not been more active in the market. But on the whole, Liverpool have once again shown themselves to be savvy when it comes to transfers. With a team so heavily rooted in a system-based approach that relies on continuity and individual relationships, new transfers could disrupt the harmony that currently exists at Liverpool.
Minimal business could well be the way that Liverpool carry their momentum from last season and mount another title challenge.
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