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The Egyptian King arrives as Klopp fine-tunes his champions in waiting – Liverpool FC in 2017/18

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The 2017/18 season was one that saw Jurgen Klopp’s side continue to blossom as the foundations for success both domestically and in Europe were laid out.

The summer of 2017 saw the boss start to prepare for his second full season at the helm, one which was marred by more than one transfer saga.

The hunt for Virgil van Dijk was constantly on loop, with new stories emerging every single day before an apology while the record-breaking sale of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain saw dominoes tumble and Philippe Coutinho to have his head turned by Barcelona.

And while the pair would ultimately see their wishes granted, the transfer window was one that saw Liverpool secure two players who would help catapult the team to the highest of highs.

It was an exhilarating campaign that saw Klopp’s men spend the majority of the time in and around the top four in the Premier League, while only one defeat came our way on the road to Kyiv.

Domestically, 16 different Reds etched their name onto the scoresheet in a topflight campaign which returned an impressive 84 goals – the second-highest tally in the division.

 

All rise for the new King

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Tuesday, April 10, 2018: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the first goal to equalise and make the score 1-1 during the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“I really want to win something for this club,” Mohamed Salah said upon his arrival at Anfield in June 2017, three years before he would go on to win four major honours.

The summer was one which was filled with possibilities over who could be added to the fold in attack, with Julian Brandt readily linked.

But it would Salah who would arrive to fanfare before everything he touched turned into gold, a statement signing who set tongues wagging and left defenders a quaking mess.

A goal on debut against Watford was just the start for the pacey winger as he would go on to net a total of 32 league goals in 36 appearances, the most goals of any Premier League player in history during a 38-game campaign.

Coupled with his astonishing feats in Europe, the Egyptian would end his maiden campaign with an astonishing 44 goals and 16 assists in 52 appearances.

Any suggestions that he would not be a hit were emphatically quashed.

Records and accolades rightly came his way for a season that was played with style, confidence, quality and jaw-dropping moments – one which will forever be etched into club folklore.

And all for a bargain fee of £36.9 million, which did see us pay a ‘Salah tax’ when we would move in on Roma once more, this time for Alisson.

 

Transfer sagas

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Friday, January 5, 2018: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk celebrates scoring the winning goal at the Kop end to seal a 2-1 victory over Everton on his debut during the FA Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC, the 230th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Blackpool, unsanctioned meetings, a transfer request and ultimately an apology.

And that is the short of the long in the pursuit for Virgil van Dijk. A story that rumbled on throughout the summer with Liverpool desperate to secure a player who would transform their defence and their fortunes.

Inflated prices and a sour relationship with Southampton would only delay the inevitable, however, as the Dutchman would be pictured with a Liverpool kit as a late Christmas present upon his January arrival.

A fee of £75 million was agreed, a bargain in hindsight, and a testament to the conviction of Klopp and co. that he was the man for the job, irrespective of how long they would have to wait.

As first impressions go Van Dijk’s was not bad with a winner in a Merseyside Derby, but that would only be the start as the imperious defender would transform the Reds from day one: from hopeful contenders to fierce challengers.

MUNICH, GERMANY - Tuesday, August 1, 2017: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia before the Audi Cup 2017 match between FC Bayern Munich and Liverpool FC at the Allianz Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

But the club had found themselves on both sides of a transfer saga, as while they chased Van Dijk during the summer, Barcelona were busy turning Coutinho’s head after Neymar made a £198 million switch to PSG.

There was resistance from fans after another star man wanted to move on and while the club held firm over the summer, by the time Van Dijk landed the Brazilian was packing his bags.

A ‘back injury’ and leaks to the press soured his exit and as Klopp hinted at the time, the grass would not prove greener on the other side – but the Reds blossomed as the funds were put to good use to set up the trophy-laden years ahead.

 

Trent and Robbo make their mark

BRIGHTON AND HOVE, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 2, 2017: Liverpool's Andy Robertson takes a throw-in during the FA Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Liverpool FC at the American Express Community Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

While Salah, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Van Dijk dominated headlines for all the good reasons, Andy Robertson was one that had left many underwhelmed.

The Scot had just been relegated with Hull and with the Reds in desperate need of a left-back with Alberto Moreno struggling, an £8 million move came as a surprise midway through the summer.

But those who questioned the transfer would soon be singing the praises of Michael Edwards, Klopp and co. as Robertson, after a settling in period, would swiftly make his mark and catapult himself into the top echelon of left-backs in world football.

At the same time, Trent Alexander-Arnold was looking to make a breakthrough into the first team having only made his debut the season prior.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Boxing Day, Tuesday, December 26, 2017: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrates scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool and Swansea City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

And 2017/18 would prove to be the start of an incredible partnership between the duo, acting as key creative outlets in a riveting Liverpool outfit that eagerly entertained the masses.

They would only supply eight assists and contribute four goals between them, but it was only a small sign of things to come once they both settled into the XI.

 

Electric in front of goal

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 12, 2017: Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring the first equalising goal during the FA Premier League match between Watford and Liverpool at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It was a memorable season in more ways than one and Klopp’s side were quick to turn on the afterburners, score worldies and leave more than one jaw on the floor in the process.

The Reds were simply electric.

From Sadio Mane curling one into the goal or the scintillating counter-attacks against Arsenal, Brighton, West Ham and Leicester – the Reds had it all.

Salah’s rocket at Stoke is one which lives long in the memory as does his lob against Man City, while Coutinho failed to lose his touch from distance – and who can forget Klavan’s late winner at Burnley!

On 17 occasions Liverpool scored three or more goals, where an unrelenting desire to attack saw Liverpool find an avenue to goal in a myriad of ways, from the dead ball, a counter, long-range or within the box – they had it all.

And the formidable front three of Salah, Mane and Firmino would combine for an incredible 91 goals and 42 assists.

A balance would be struck between attack and defence the following season, one which ushered Liverpool to long-awaited silverware.

 

It’s only up from here

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 30, 2017: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates his side's late 2-1 victory over Burnley during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool and Leicester City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp’s second full season at the helm is one that will be remembered for plotting the course to the top, with European disappointment lending itself to a triumphant return and smart transfer dealings setting the club up for a prosperous future.

A finish inside the top four was another tick in the box, as was the run to the Champions League final – one which the Reds would harness the emotions from to go one better next time out.

As they say, ‘setbacks make for great comebacks’ and that’s exactly what Liverpool would go on to do.

A riveting 2017/18 campaign sent out a notice that Liverpool were back in business, but with Salah, Robertson and Van Dijk now settled and Fabinho, Alisson and Naby Keita to arrive in the summer of 2018 – it was only a little glimpse into what was to come.

The way to the top of the domestic and European scene had been mapped out, now it was just time for the mentality monsters to seize their opportunity.

Liverpool, 2017/18

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Wednesday, November 29, 2017: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Stoke City and Liverpool at the Bet365 Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Manager: Jurgen Klopp
Captain: Jordan Henderson
Top Scorer: Mohamed Salah (44)
Most Appearances: Roberto Firmino (54)

League Position: 4th
FA Cup: Fourth round
League Cup: Third round
European Cup: Runners-up

Total games: 56
Games won: 31
Games drawn: 16
Games lost: 9
Clean sheets – league: 17
Clean sheets – overall: 23
Total goals: 135

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