The prospect of Jurgen Klopp having the largest transfer kitty in the club’s history makes it easy to overlook the fact there are still five crucial Premier League games to be played. Five games that could have a significant impact on what kind of business Liverpool are capable of doing in the summer transfer window.
Champions League football is seemingly a must for Klopp’s priority targets and it’s up to the current players to deliver this and grant their manager the ability to make further progress in this long-term project of his. That said, Champions League football or not, Reds can somewhat relax knowing that this record transfer budget will be in safe hands. 2016 summer arrivals Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum have proven to be strokes of genius on Klopp’s part and the perfect recruits to help this team function in the way the German desires.
Klopp could have as much as £200 million to spend this summer, including £100 million from Liverpool’s Fenway Sports Group owners as well as a similar amount generated by the sale of several players, as outlined by the Liverpool Echo earlier this month.
Frustration, frustration, disbelief, a glimmer of hope, certainty, uncertainty, frustration- a representation of Liverpool-related transfer rumours since Klopp’s lack of activity in the January window. A handful of names, however, have emerged as confirmed targets over the past few weeks so here is a look at what the squad could look like if things go Klopp’s way.
Simon Mignolet’s rise to form of late appears to have diminished any uncertainty surrounding his future at the club and, in turn, ruled out the arrival of a new starting goalkeeper. Having said that, there are still five games for that to change again. Klopp’s apparent belief in Loris Karius has also hampered suggestions that a new shot-stopper will arrive. The pair will remain as they are.
Defence- Liverpool to break their own transfer record?
If Liverpool are to break their own transfer record, it looks likely that Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk will be the man responsible. The Dutchman has emerged as Klopp’s primary centre-back target and the defender viewed as an ideal partner for Joel Matip. £50 million is what it will take to bring him to Anfield, according to joe.co.uk journalist Tony Barrett. Van Dijk would most likely step in as Klopp’s immediate first choice and be a step towards Liverpool becoming serious title challengers. There, too, remains the possibility that loanee Mamadou Sakho, currently at Crystal Palace, could be used as part of a bid for Van Dijk following reports that Southampton are interested in the Frenchman.
Alberto Moreno looks certain to be sold this summer and despite fans calling for an immediate long-term replacement to be brought in, we expect Klopp to keep his faith in James Milner, unless someone new becomes available in the market. Talented Fulham teenager Ryan Sessegnon is believed to be a target but as wise a signing as he would be, there is little chance of him slotting straight into the starting eleven at just 16-years-old.
Midfield- N’Golo Kante ‘Mark II’
RB Leipzig’s midfield engine Naby Keita is also on Klopp’s wishlist, according reported Paul Joyce, of The Times. Keita, in addition to Van Dijk, represents the clubs desire to strengthen the spine of the team, which could also entail a move for another striker. £26 million has been reported as the more than reasonable fee required to sign the Bundesliga star yet interest from other top European clubs has reaffirmed Champions League qualification as a key factor. A man of his energy, power and athleticism would be difficult for Klopp to leave on the bench in a league as physical as England’s top flight. This would give the Reds boss a serious selection dilemma in terms of deciding on who to drop out of a rejuvenated Emre Can, all-action Gini Wijnaldum, captain Jordan Henderson or key man Adam Lallana. A dilemma he would certainly welcome and one that will inevitably be solved by an inability for everyone to stay fit.
Too many cooks?
There is no such thing as having too many attacking players. Klopp has made it no secret that he is keen on bringing in another winger and central striker to bolster his squad’s strength in depth having seen key injuries disrupt his team’s form towards the beginning of 2017. Bayer Leverkusen’s Julian Brandt, valued at £20 million, is Klopp’s preferred wide target, according to Goal.com’s Melissa Reddy, but has also been subject to interest from Bayern Munich. An ideal world for Klopp would see him not only gain Brandt but also Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who possesses the kind of pace, power and versatility that the former Borussia Dortmund man wants. What is yet to become clear is how Daniel Sturridge will be replaced, providing he does eventually leave at the end of the season. Regardless of who comes in, though, expect Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane to remain as Liverpool’s first choice front three.
Here is a potential match-day squad if Klopp gets his men…
Starting XI- Mignolet, Clyne, Van Dijk, Matip, Milner, Henderson, Keita, Lallana, Mane, Coutinho, Firmino
Subs- Karius, Lovren, Can/Lucas, Wijnaldum, Brandt, Origi, Oxlade-Chamberlain
Second XI- Karius, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Gomez, Sessegnon, Can, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Brandt, Woodburn, Origi