The summer transfer window is closed, much to the pleasure of Jurgen Klopp, who told media recently that he couldn’t understand their “obsession” with it. Now for the debate over Liverpool’s dealings.
In all honesty, Klopp was finished with the transfer window on July 22nd, when Georginio Wijnaldum completed his move from Newcastle United. That proved to be the last signing of the summer and the only business since then has seen fringe players depart, something Klopp himself wouldn’t be involved in the negotiations.
The only decisions Klopp has made since Wijnaldum’s arrival have been to urge Mamadou Sakho to leave on loan, keep Lucas Leiva – likely due to urging Sakho to leave, and deciding not to loan out Connor Randall.
Klopp was happy for Cameron Brannagan to head out on loan, but seemingly no club could agree to the Reds’ requirement of playing 75 percent of games while at their temporary club.
Sheyi Ojo‘s injury meant the decision on whether to loan him was largely taken out of Klopp’s hands, with the manager saying in late July that he was undecided whether to keep him or allow him to leave.
Decisions on Mario Balotelli, Andre Wisdom, Luis Alberto and Lazar Markovic were made a long time ago, despite them only officially leaving on deadline day itself.
In total, Klopp signed six players in his first summer in charge, plus the addition of Marko Grujic from loan.
One of those six was 39-year-old third-choice goalkeeper Alex Manninger. So only five major signings made.
Heading the other way, three players with first-team appearances (Jose Enrique, Kolo Toure, Samed Yesil) were released on free contracts, three youngsters departed on the expiry of their contracts (Jordan Rossiter, Jerome Sinclair, Joao Teixeira), eight more left on permanent deals, and 12 more headed out on loan.
Of the 39 players used last season, 16 left the club this summer. That leaves 23 players from last season, plus the seven arrivals, so 30 in total.
That 30 includes Randall, Brannagan, Tiago Ilori, Joe Maguire and Pedro Chirivella – players unlikely to feature in the first-team unless injuries hit.
So we’re down to 25, one of which is Sakho. And we have no idea whether he will be included in the squad or cast aside after refusing a loan move.
The squad is certainly trimmed.
So after all this, is the glass half full, or half empty?
We added pace, trickery and genuine quality out wide with Sadio Mane.
Joel Matip is an upgrade on Martin Skrtel.
Loris Karius should improve the ‘keeper situation.
None of the club’s best players left – first summer in a while.
Klopp says he’s happy with the squad he has.
We failed to address the obvious issue at left-back.
There’s no alternative option to Emre Can in holding midfield. Still.
There’s a real issue with a lack of cover at full-back.
Sakho’s situation leaves the centre-back area questionable.
We have a 30-year-old right-footed midfielder playing at left-back.
There’s been a quote from the Liverpool writer Paul Tomkins being shared a lot on social media this week:
I think that when fans of a certain disposition craved Klopp – when they hounded John Henry with every tweet – they were actually just wanting his Dortmund team, and his Dortmund success. They didn’t want the process where his Dortmund side went from average to outstanding over two-to-three years, probably because they didn’t even notice it – unless they were keen Bundesliga aficionados. They just saw the exciting team Dortmund had become and thought “want that”. Sure, but how did Klopp make it?
This is very true, and important to remember.
However, as much as Klopp may claim to be happy with the squad he has, it’s pretty clear that he wanted to sign Ben Chilwell and Mahoud Dahoud – a left-back and a centre-midfielder who can dictate play.
Had those two arrived, a seven out of 10 transfer window would be looking more like a nine out of 10 and the key areas would all have been addressed.
Chilwell may not have been the answer at left-back, just as Matip may not be the answer at centre-back – time will only tell. But it would have given depth in the area it was needed.
Dahoud would be the player able to play alongside Emre Can in midfield, assumingly. Perhaps that one happens next summer.
Ultimately, the squad looks very thin and Liverpool’s season seems to rely almost entirely on key players in key positions not getting injured. And, given that half of the squad have suffered injuries in the last two months, that looks highly unlikely.
But should a spine develop – especially with Karius, Matip and Can – and remain in place, the proverbial glass will look more full than empty.
Klopp clearly feels he can coach the squad he has to acheive the gains over rivals who have sigficicantly spent more money.
Liverpool though will need some luck, especially with not suffering injuries, if they are to achieve a top four finish.
A failure to finish in the top four will reflect badly on Klopp failing to address those two key positions that have been problems for long before he arrived at Anfield.