Neil Jones has expressed his concern that Liverpool could go into the 2023/24 campaign with a ‘weaker’ squad than what they had last season, when they finished fifth in the Premier League.
It’s been a summer of change at Anfield, with long-serving players like Bobby Firmino and James Milner departing at the end of their contracts and other stalwarts in Jordan Henderson and Fabinho set to leave as well.
There have been two signings so far in Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai, but the consensus is that more will be needed if the Reds are to have any hope of contending for major silverware over the next 12 months.
Speaking exclusively to Empire of the Kop’s Substack, Jones admitted to being underwhelmed by the list of names being linked with Liverpool and is fearful that the squad Jurgen Klopp will have by the autumn will be inferior to what he had last season.
The journalist said: “If you’re looking at what’s been linked with Liverpool over the past few weeks or days – it’s not been an inspiring list where you think you have to push the boat out to get them. It’s Liverpool finding a solution that’s imperfect, and with a bit of time constraints on it. It isn’t an ideal situation they find themselves in.
“I know Jurgen gave an interview on Friday where he said ‘trust us, we’ll get it right’. It’s fair enough for him to ask that but we’ll have to wait and see what Liverpool do because, personally, I don’t have a great deal of faith that they’ll come out of this window stronger than they went into it, or stronger than they went into it when they had only signed Szoboszlai and Mac Allister.
“I think there is a good chance that Liverpool will actually look weaker when the season starts, because it will be very hard to replace Fabinho and Henderson, both as players and as people who are on top of Liverpool’s style, tactics and way they play. Unless they pull something really, really good out the bag in the next few weeks.”
Until two weeks ago, Liverpool’s summer transfer window had been progressing smoothly, with a couple of impressive midfield recruits through the door in Szoboszlai and Mac Allister, but the double whammy of Fabinho and Henderson looking set to depart has vastly altered the picture.
There’s a sense that the Reds are back where they started if they both leave, with little more than five weeks remaining before the deadline to ensure that high-quality replacements are brought in.
There have been reports of personal terms being agreed with Romeo Lavia, with an offer expected to be tabled in the coming days (Sacha Tavolieri), but it’ll take more than just the Southampton midfielder to offer reassurance that Klopp has the squad in place to truly compete for glory this season.
The other names being linked with Liverpool – Cheick Doucoure, Joao Palhinha, Boubacar Kamara and more – are all very capable footballers, but the burning question is whether any of them could bring the skill set and qualities that Fabinho and Henderson have supplied at Anfield.
The window of opportunity is getting narrower all the time, but as Jones also mentioned to EOTK, the Reds have a knack for pulling off pleasant surprises in the transfer market, so don’t rule out a positive twist unfolding between now and the end of August.