Liverpool without Champions League football in the 2023/24 season; the first campaign in which the Reds will boast a stadium capacity of over 61,000 following the expansion of the Anfield Road End.
It would be a huge shame, to say the least, for 7,000 more fans to lose out on the opportunity to catch Jurgen Klopp’s men filing out in a competition that they’ve enjoyed a considerable degree of success in in recent years.
As things currently stand, however, that frightening eventuality looks set to become a reality come the summer if we fail to conduct any additional business in the January window beyond the addition of Cody Gakpo.
Though an exciting talent the Dutch international no doubt is, he simply can’t be expected to shoulder the weight of Liverpool’s European hopes.
In short: a new midfielder is needed before the January window draws to a close, something that looks an unlikelihood at this stage.
There’s every possibility that things could quickly change, of course; there are options Liverpool could pursue and for a much lower asking price than they can expect to have to meet for the likes of a Jude Bellingham or Enzo Fernandez.
Though it’s a signing reportedly scheduled for the summer, we’ve allegedly already secured the addition of long-term target Matheus Nunes for £44m.
January’s a notoriously difficult time when it comes to snapping up quality signings within the £30-40m price range but it is possible.
We were told on several occasions that Sofyan Amrabat – valued at €40m (£35.1m), according to Santi Aouna – would be achievable in the current window. If that’s the case and we still rate the Moroccan international after his phenomenal World Cup showing, why aren’t we moving to secure a player that gives us both dynamism in the middle of the park AND an opportunity to rotate Fabinho?
Does it hint at a longer game Liverpool are playing?
How Liverpool could salvage a season finishing outside the top four spots
The most obvious answer as to how Liverpool could salvage a season outside the heralded top four spots is to win the Champions League.
Given that the Reds will be coming up against a quality Real Madrid outfit amid an injury and identity crisis, however, we may very well have to steel ourselves against the increasing likelihood of a Round of 16 exit from the competition.
In that case, winning the FA Cup simply won’t be enough, which then takes us to the summer transfer window.
Theoretically, one season spent outside of Champions League football wouldn’t necessarily be disastrous for Liverpool – though we wouldn’t like to see this become a regular feature as it once was prior to Klopp’s reign.
It had been suggested before, rather amazingly, that playing in Europe’s premier competition may not be considered a must for us to land top midfield target Jude Bellingham (according to Christian Falk who spoke to the Anfield Wrap (via Rousing the Kop)), a hope many a fan will be holding on to should we fail to realise our minimum objective this term.
Without the financial benefits of Champions League football, however, it’s worth posing the question as to how Liverpool will be able to afford an asking price set in the region of £130m.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume that we’ll have the requisite funds either way and that the midfielder is willing to overlook the reality of playing in either the Europa League (or, God forbid, the dreaded Europa Conference League).
There’s a good chance we won’t have that extra £44m to land Wolves’ Matheus Nunes, though just adding Borussia Dortmund’s most prized asset to the ranks would certainly be the only way the club could come close to making up for such a disastrous 2022/23.
With potentially as many as three midfielders leaving in the summer (without counting loanee Arthur Melo), however, it remains the height of negligence to prepare for the next challenge with only one addition made to our most struggling department.
AT LEAST two new midfielders must be signed over the course of the next two windows and we’re not quite sure how Liverpool will manage that without Champions League football or a change in ownership.