By Declan Carr (@Declancarr96)
The following is a guest article by the aforementioned author – linked above – and is not necessarily representative of opinions held by anyone at Empire of the Kop…
Many Liverpool fans have accused FSG of being too stingy and not investing enough in the playing squad to keep the Reds competitive on all fronts.
However, the performances of the Red Bull trio (Ibrahima Konate, Naby Keita and Taki Minamino) against Leicester show that the club’s recruitment strategy is more hit than miss.
Minamino played the full 90 and was the chief architect of the Reds’ comeback. Possibly his greatest night in a red shirt so far, his link-up with Bobby Firmino and Diogo Jota for the second goal showed glimpses of the player that persuaded the Anfield outfit to part with £7.5 million. Then came the cherry on top of his performance, his 90th-minute drive past Kasper Schmeichel into the far right bottom corner to force a penalty shootout that the Merseysiders would prevail from.
Keita only replaced skipper Jordan Henderson in the 59th minute but showed shades of the creative force that tore up the Bundesliga between 2016 and 2018. The Guinean midfielder is already just one appearance behind his total from last season and has already played a starring role in a 5–0 win at Old Trafford and scored screamers against Crystal Palace and Atletico Madrid. Once he came on, he transformed the dynamic of the game with his progressive passing and driving runs forward. If he can stay injury-free, he’ll play a big part in Liverpool’s season.
Konate was an extremely exciting signing in the summer. It felt like the Reds had swooped under Europe’s other big clubs’ noses to steal one of the biggest centre-back prospects on the continent. The Frenchman’s reputation has only increased since moving to Anfield. Amongst Liverpool players who have started more than three Premier League games, he ranks second only to Virgil van Dijk for the percentage of dribblers tackled (75%), top for interceptions per 90 (2.83) and below just Joel Matip, Thiago Alcantara and our No.4 for percentage of aerial duels won (69.2%). It’s early days but the 22-year-old has shown that he can easily adapt to the English top-flight and the command and control he demonstrated against Leicester suggests he will be a force to be reckoned with for attackers in England.
The Red Bull market has shown to be an effective one for the Reds, with their previous investments starting to make an impact. Perhaps they can dip into it again to prise Erling Haaland out of the likes of Real Madrid and PSG’s clutches. It would be audacious but they have a solid relationship with the Red Bull Football Group and it would be foolish not to try.