With eight months under his belt at Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp must now make the team his own and move the club forward. We take a look at what the expectations are for the German ahead of his first full season on Merseyside.
Jurgen Klopp had a strong start to his tenure at Liverpool by guiding the Reds to two major finals in just eight months. Although his team were unable to triumph in the Europa League and League Cup, the German brought a new energy to Anfield after arriving at the club, replacing the sacked Brendan Rodgers in the dugout in October.
However, the Reds have to kick on in the next campaign under Klopp to regain their Champions League status. At the time of writing, Liverpool are backed at 21/20 to finish in the top four of the Premier League next term, but have a lot of work ahead of them over the summer to rejoin Europe’s elite.
Learning From Past Failures In The Transfer Market
The Reds spent heavily last season in their bid for the top-flight crown, including a £32m outlay on Christian Benteke from Aston Villa. Roberto Firmino also arrived for £21m, while England duo James Milner and Nathaniel Clyne joined from Manchester City and Southampton respectively.
Milner and Clyne fitted well into the club and began to contribute in the early stages of their Liverpool careers, while Firmino would be a standout towards the end of the campaign under Klopp. The Brazilian ended the term as the Reds’ top goalscorer in the Premier League with 10 goals, including a brace in his side’s nine-goal thriller against Norwich City.
However, Benteke’s first season at Anfield was a failure, as the Belgian notched only nine strikes in 29 appearances in the top flight, his worst tally since his move to England in 2012. The 25-year-old’s struggles, along with Daniel Sturridge’s injury problems, mean that Klopp will have to venture into the transfer market again in the summer in an attempt to fill the void that has existed since the departure of Luis Suarez in 2014.
Targets For Klopp
Despite their heavy outlay on transfers, Liverpool will have more than enough cash to spend on new players due to the new Premier League television deals. The Reds’ sponsorship deals with New Balance and Standard Chartered are two of the most lucrative contracts in the Premier League, so Klopp will not have to raise funds from within his squad.
Alexandre Lacazette has been linked with a move to the English top flight after two impressive seasons with Lyon, firing 48 league goals in the past two years. His predatory instincts in and around the box are what Liverpool have been lacking since Suarez joined Barcelona, although the club may have to part with a considerable amount of money to secure the Frenchman’s signature.
Providing goals will be just as important to the Reds, with numerous midfielders linked to the club, including Mario Gotze, who played under Klopp at Borussia Dortmund. The 24-year-old is reportedly on the move this summer, with Bayern Munich determined to cash in on the Germany international, although the player’s dad has suggested that he is not interested in joining Liverpool.
As a result, Klopp may have to look elsewhere and has reportedly eyed up a move to sign Borussia Monchengladbach’s Mahmoud Dahoud for a fee in the region of £20m.
Southampton’s Sadio Mane has also been targeted as an option for Klopp, although the Saints will be playing in Europe next season which may convince the winger to remain at St Mary’s Stadium or pursue Champions League football.
The German has already strengthened his rearguard by signing Joel Matip from Schalke 04 to provide competition for Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho, while keeper Loris Karius will attempt to oust Simon Mignolet from the starting spot.
Liverpool will need their new signings to make an instant impact next season to bridge the gap to the top sides in the division as they cannot afford to stagnate for another term.
Klopp Cannot Afford Failure Next Term
The Reds came agonisingly close to success in the 2013/14 campaign, but narrowly lost out on their first Premier League title to Manchester City. Rodgers was not able to convince Suarez to remain at the club, while their next star, Raheem Sterling, left for the Etihad Stadium the following year.
As a result, Liverpool have had problems keeping a settled side and a strong spine through the middle of the team, which has not been helped by the number of injuries sustained. Should the club not be able to challenge for the top-flight crown and miss out yet again on a place in the Champions League, then more players could leave Anfield for better prospects.
Philippe Coutinho has been the Reds’ standout player for the past two seasons, but should he be starved of playing in Europe’s elite competition for three seasons on the bounce then it’s not unrealistic to say he might seek a move elsewhere. It may also affect the club’s chances in the transfer market of luring Europe’s top talent to Merseyside as the reported reluctance of Gotze has proved.
Klopp will know that he and the club face a huge challenge in the next campaign to guide his side into the top four in order to create a springboard for further success. Let’s wait and see how it all plays out.