After a dramatic end to the 20/21 Premier League season that saw Liverpool win 8 of their last ten league games, the Reds will be looking to carry that momentum into the new season and lay down a marker at the start of the campaign. There is a feeling of unfinished business on Merseyside with Liverpool looking to cast aside the injury-laden horrors of last season and bounce back in style to compete with the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea this year.
The Reds are certainly one of the favourites to be in amongst the title fight at the business end of the season, and here is how their squad shapes up ahead of the start of the new campaign.
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Liverpool have been fairly inactive in the transfer market compared to other clubs in England, primarily because they don’t need to sign anybody. Liverpool are already set to be one of the most improved teams in the Premier League next season with the return of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Naby Keita and Diogo Jota from their long-term injuries.
The Reds did have a centre-back problem last season, and those issues were addressed right at the start of the window with the signature of Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig for £36 million. In addition, Harvey Elliott returns following an impressive loan spell at Blackburn in the Championship, providing some backup to Salah and Mane alongside Jota and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain. While it would be nice to sign an additional central midfielder or forward, the Reds don’t have too many pressing issues at the moment and are already strong contenders for the league title without spending another penny.
BEST STARTING XI
Jurgen Klopp’s side are one of the few teams in the League with a settled first-choice playing XI with no apparent weakness. In goal, Alisson signed a new six-year contract in the summer to extend his stay on Merseyside till 2027 and continues to be in the conversation for the best goalkeeper in Europe.
Ahead of him, Liverpool’s centre-back issue has gone from famine to feast with Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip returning from injury and Konate coming in from Leipzig to supplement Nat Phillips who impressed at the back end of last season. If fully fit, Van Dijk will return to the Liverpool starting XI for the first time in a year and will be partnered by new signing Ibrahima Konate who is widely regarded as one of the top centre-back prospects in Europe.
The two full-backs continue to provide the creativity to the team from deep with Trent Alexander–Arnold and Andy Robertson averaging more than 10 league assists a season for the past three years and providing the width down the flanks.
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Liverpool’s midfield is the engine room of the team and Fabinho – another player who signed a contract extension in the summer – will reprise his role at the base of the midfield three after deputizing at centre-back for much of last season. Alongside him, Liverpool should line up with Thiago and captain Jordan Henderson after Gini Wijnaldum departed on a free transfer to PSG.
In attack, Mohammed Salah carried Liverpool at times last season and has evolved into a phenomenal goal-scoring machine for Jurgen Klopp over the past four seasons. Comparatively, Sadio Mane endured a tougher campaign behind closed doors in 20/21, but with a full pre-season and some much-needed rest, we could see the Senegalese back to his best this year. The biggest debate for Klopp is whether to go with Roberto Firmino or Diogo Jota as the centre forward and while Jota offers more offensively and might eventually nail down a starting berth over the course of the season, Firmino’s all-round game and pressing might give him the edge come the first matchday of the season against Norwich.
Following a one-year hiatus at the summit of the Premiership, Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool will be desperate to give Manchester City a title challenge in 21/22.
Looking at the age of the squad, there is a growing belief that Liverpool’s title window is closing with the core of the team – Salah, Henderson, Mane, Firmino, Van Dijk – all approaching 30. With Liverpool not owned by a sovereign wealth fund like Manchester City or Chelsea, there isn’t an endless pit of cash to fund the rebuild and replace the production of Salah, Mane and Firmino. Hence, the current iteration of Liverpool’s side might be at their peak and it is down to Jurgen Klopp and his squad to realize this potential.
While they haven’t broken the bank for many players in the transfer window, Liverpool will be stronger next season with the support of 50,000 fans spurring them on at Anfield each week, which could make the difference throughout the campaign and help them add Premier League Trophy number 20 to the cabinet.
[Header Image Credit: Liverpool FC]