Jurgen Klopp always talks about how he wants his summer transfers wrapped up early, so the new players can become accustomed to his physical and tactical demands.
But the Saudis have put paid to that idea by luring both our captain and our long-serving defensive midfielder to the Middle East…
If every player was fit last season, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho would still have started for Liverpool and their absence is going to be felt, not only in playing terms but because both are experienced winners and in the case of the former, the team’s leader.
Henderson’s deal has now been wrapped up bar the final announcement and Fabinho’s won’t take long.
There’s no going back for either. They’ve chosen to take the money. It’s sad after what they’ve achieved with us, but perhaps long-term it’ll be for the best and we can focus on a new team, ready to run themselves into the ground for Klopp.
With Naby Keita, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also departing, the Reds are losing five senior midfielders in one window, which is practically unheard of. We have bought two excellent replacements in Alexis Mac Allister, who is going to take the Premier League by storm this term in my opinion, and Dominic Szoboszlai, a big talent who increases the technicality in our central areas tenfold.
But two new players don’t replace five outgoing – and sporting director Jörg Schmadtke must surely be working night and day to bring in the required numbers for the start of the Premier League season – in less than three weeks’ time.
Before Henderson and Fabinho were targeted, it looked like we’d maybe bring in a young defensive midfielder, like Romeo Lavia, but their imminent exits mean we need more than just the Belgian prodigy. After all, he’s had one full season in the top flight and was relegated with Southampton. We can’t expect him to come in and provide the composure and physicality of Fabinho at his best, or anything like the leadership Henderson provided. That would be preposterous. Still, Football Insider think a deal is close.
For this reason, we need another, older midfielder – someone in their mid-20s – to come in as well as a younger talent.
I like the idea of Josh Kimmich who is only 28-years-old, or maybe Leon Goretzka, his Bayern team-mate of the same age. Fede Valverde would be incredible, but he surely isn’t for sale, and in reality, is too attacking when we need an anchorman. Perhaps Schmadtke and Klopp are waiting to see what happens at Real Madrid, as if PSG sell them Kylian Mbappe, they potentially will need funds and Aurelien Tchouameni could become available after a difficult first season in Spain.
This is all speculation, of course. Nobody knows what Liverpool are cooking. Not even the journalists closest to the club have a sniff of genuine information. All they are doing is regurgitating that Lavia is a target. Just like the Szoboszlai transfer, the news will come out and a few days later, it’ll be done.
Klopp though is confident more arrivals will be signed.
“A few things have to happen before the first game, definitely transfer market-wise as well, so that’s clear now. And yeah, it will happen,” he told the Express last week.
Two midfielders will give us the following options for the centre of the park:
Thiago, Mac Allister, Szoboszlai, Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott, Stefan Bajcetic, and the two new signings…
Clearly, having seen that list, one will not be enough.
On top of two new midfielders, we need a centre-back and a right-back. With Trent Alexander-Arnold set to play either the hybrid right-back role or as the left-sided midfielder in the double-pivot, a new right-back is surely a no-brainer, especially given his supposed heir Calvin Ramsay is now on loan at Preston North End.
Joe Gomez cannot be relied upon for a full season although given he can play in two defensive positions, shouldn’t be sold, while Connor Bradley is a prospect and not someone who should be playing Premier League minutes yet. A reliable, defensively strong right-back, who can step into midfield, is a must.
Then, we need cover for Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson on the other side. Levi Colwill is the big target for this role, says 90min, but he seems unattainable due to Chelsea not wanting to sell another Academy hope. Plus, the asking price would be ludicrous anyway.
I don’t know who they’ll be, but we need four. Two midfielders, a right-back, and a centre-back. Any less, we’ll simply be heading into another season undercooked.
Let’s see what Klopp and Schmadtke can pull out of the bag.