Liverpool lack a cutthroat mentality, and that could cost them their first English title in the Premier League era. They still carry deadweight in areas which need to be upgraded if they want to compete at the highest level. Jürgen Klopp has been able to turn the Reds back into major contenders. He has brought in very talented, game-changing players. However, he needs to be able to maintain this winning culture and ‘big-club’ mentality.
Liverpool Need to Improve
Producers or Collectors?
After the departures of quality talent like Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and, most recently, Phillipe Coutinho, Liverpool must be able to keep their star players. It is important for them to become a club which collects talent instead of farming it. Also, Jürgen Klopp has proved that price doesn’t mean everything with superb signings like Andy Robertson and Xherdan Shaqiri, both costing well below their current market value.
At the same time, players like Alisson Becker, Virgil van Dijk, and Mohamed Salah, who were record fees at the time, have proven to push the club into a forward direction and have impacted the culture of the team immediately. In order to keep progressing, quality players need to keep coming in order to compete with current champions Manchester City.
Spending the Money
One key example can be found regarding Manchester City and manager Pep Guardiola. He completely transformed his squad to the point that those coming off the bench are genuine contenders to start. Superstars like Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane are fighting against Gabriel Jesus, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez every day to keep their spots. This not only increases the quality coming off of the bench but ensures that the current starters are consistently performing.
Obviously, Manchester City have more spending money than Liverpool. However, Liverpool’s net spend has been relatively low compared to the other top English teams. Also, with features in multiple cup finals as well as qualification for the Champions League, Liverpool should have more funds to invest into their squad. Continuing to invest is vital, yet it can be seen as useless if the deadweight players aren’t also sold. Klopp has had plenty of time to settle in and judge his players. A decision to cut those that are simply not good enough is necessary for improvement.
Despite their dominating performance this season, some areas of the field have proved to be more controlling than others. Teams would rather attack Liverpool’s right-wing starting with isolating youngster Trent Alexander-Arnold. He has shown flashes of brilliance, but bringing in a defensively sound right-back should be a target for Liverpool.
Lack of Depth
Another key position to fill is the centre-back spot next to big Virgil van Dijk. He has proven to be undoubtedly exceptional. However, Liverpool would be even more stable with another world-class centre back partnering the Dutchman. Youngster Joe Gomez was seen as the one to step up and fill that role but his ACL injury has reminded Reds fans of their lack of depth in this position. Also, Dejan Lovren has proven to be an average centre-back who is prone to making mistakes, which for contending champions is just not enough.
The lack of depth and quality in the midfield has started to decrease with additions like Georginio Wijnaldum, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and Fabinho. However, in order to bolster the midfield options, Jürgen Klopp must make harsh decisions on which players to let go. The forwards for Liverpool have played exceptionally however still show signs of inconsistency, which can be solved by replacing Divock Origi with Timo Werner, for example; a player who can threaten any of Liverpool’s front three for their starting spot increasing the quality of the club all around.
It is extremely difficult to ask a manager to flip his club upside down completely. After over three years of progression, though, there are only a few more changes that Klopp needs to make to reach the finish line. Liverpool have arguably their best chance to win the Premier League in years; they a huge opportunity this January to ensure their spot at the top of the table. If not in January, it is vital that the summer provides many changes to improve the quality of their side. Will Jürgen Klopp put his faith and trust in his squad or make the changes to strengthen it?