There were familiar problems for Jurgen Klopp to scratch his head over during the 90 minutes of action against Darmstadt at the Deepdale.
Opposition attacks gliding through the midfield with ease at times – despite almost £100m worth of new talent being having been pumped into the department in the form of Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister – and a superb diagonal ball leaving the backline exposed.
Most baffling of all, however, is the fact that Liverpool are still yet to land a new number six to fill the Fabinho-sized void left in the starting-XI, nevermind a replacement for ex-skipper Jordan Henderson.
The options in the market are admittedly limited but does it all come down to money for the Reds? Very much so, according to Gary Neville, who took his opportunity to poke holes in FSG’s stewardship of the Merseyside giants.
“I think with Liverpool, [in] the last two years Chelsea have spent huge, Arsenal have spent huge, [Man] United have spent huge, City are City,” the former Manchester United fullback spoke on The Overlap’s Fan Debate (via the Liverpool Echo). “I think the market has shocked them, the [Jude] Bellingham £100m deal, the [Declan] Rice £100m-odd deal, [Enzo] Fernandez, [Moises] Caicedo, they’re [Liverpool] at that £50m or £60m and they’re comfortable there but I think they’re at their point where they’ve hit the ceiling lower than where the other four or five clubs are at.”
That said, patience has generally paid off as far as we’re concerned in the market, even despite the irrefutable financial superiority of some of our rivals. At the very least, it once did under the guidance of former sporting director Michael Edwards.
It’s worth emphasising in all of this that our opening two purchases in the window are far from appalling; Mac Allister, signed by Jorg Schmadtke’s predecessor in Julian Ward, looks an absolute pinch at £35m, whilst Szoboszlai clearly has a lot of potential to realise.
With Chelsea pushing up to £80m for Moises Caicedo, however, whilst we squabble over loose change in negotiations for Romeo Lavia, however, you can see where Neville is coming from in his analysis of our efforts in the market.
Speaking of the Blues… though a meeting with Mauricio Pochettino’s outfit is drawing ever closer, there is still time for Liverpool to realise an ideal transfer scenario – the signing of two further midfielders and a left-sided centre-back.
To truly go one step up and respond to the Monday Night Football pundit’s point – we’ll have to go one step further in our pursuit of a new holding midfielder with a big move. Perhaps, dare we say it, a late hijack for our upcoming opponent’s current top target in Brighton’s No.25.
With a fee more than likely to exceed £80m (and that’s without even considering the Ecuadorian’s potentially significant wage demands), of course, we won’t be holding our breath on this one. Particularly, not whilst there’s much else to do to restore our squad to a level capable of genuinely challenging on all fronts.
If FSG are prepared to help Jurgen Klopp and Co. bend the status quo on sustainability, then they have one obvious way of doing so.