Liverpool FC transfer plans: Centre-back ‘priority’, selling Diaz and more

Liverpool face a number of uncertainties in the transfer window, including the futures of Caoimhin Kelleher and Luis Diaz, as well as key areas to strengthen.

With the transfer window now officially open, the Reds are yet to confirm any business beyond a loan deal that sent Calvin Ramsay to Wigan.

It is expected to be a pivotal summer, of course, as a new regime oversees the squad Jurgen Klopp left behind for head coach Arne Slot.

So what should we expect this summer and how should Liverpool address key issues?

Here, This Is Anfield’s Jack Lusby (@LusbyJack), Sam Millne (@sam_millne) and Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) gave their thoughts on Kelleher, Diaz and more.

 

What do you make of reports that centre-back is “not an immediate priority“?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 17, 2024: Liverpool's (L-R) chief executive officer of football for Fenway Sports Group Michael Edwards, club secretary Danny Stanway , Ian Rush, non-executive director Kenny Dalglish during the FA Cup Quarter-Final match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JACK: I’m not buying it.

While it makes sense that Slot will want to come in and take a closer look at the options already available, from a calculated viewpoint it’s clear they need another through the door.

Matip’s stay ended in injury, but it can’t be overlooked how key he was prior to that.

Even with Quansah stepping up, Konate’s inability to stay fit and Gomez’s development as a utility player leaves the group short.

Links with Marc Guehi and Riccardo Calafiori may not bear fruit, but they do highlight a key topic: that being a long-term succession plan for Van Dijk who, though still world class, will turn 33 before the season starts and as it stands has 12 months left on his deal.

SAM: If we were to take that line at face value then it would suggest Gomez is set to play in his preferred position at centre-back.

However, it would seem almost negligible to go into the season without at least acquiring a defender who can play in cup competitions or when the squad is wearing thin.

Konate’s constant injury problems and Quansah’s youthful age mean you can’t rely on them to stay at the top of their game throughout the whole campaign.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, October 4, 2023: Liverpool's Ibrahima Konaté during a training session at the AXA Training Centre ahead of the UEFA Europa League Group E match between Liverpool FC and Union SG. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JOANNA: Hard not to agree with both Jack and Sam on this one, it would be careless if true as previous years have shown just how vital it is to have depth in the position.

While we may not yet have been linked to the centre-back Liverpool will end up pursuing, it is clear that reinforcements are needed in the wake of Matip’s exit and Konate’s injury record.

It is why I don’t quite accept the stance, it would be foolish for the club to overlook the position with all we know about our options and past events. Let’s hope we see movement soon!

 

If Caoimhin Kelleher goes, how would you replace him?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, April 24, 2024: Liverpool's goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 244th Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. Everton won 2-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JACK: The easy answer would be to promote from within, and Vitezslav Jaros has produced a convincing case to step up as Alisson‘s next deputy.

He’ll only turn 23 in July, he’s eligible as homegrown and he’s now got experience of winning a major title on loan at Sturm Graz.

But I’m not sure that would be the best option for Jaros himself, with that taste of life as a No. 1 likely putting him in the same position as Kelleher this summer.

With at least one of Kelleher and Adrian almost certain to leave, Liverpool will probably need to sign a goalkeeper anyway, and I’d be looking for a No. 2 with genuine quality.

SAM: That’s a really difficult question and possibly one the club aren’t even wanting to contemplate.

Kelleher has largely been the perfect No. 2, but Liverpool are now in a catch-22 where the backup is now too good to remain a deputy.

As Jack says, Jaros deserves a chance, but there is no guarantee he is ready to step in for Alisson when the Brazilian inevitably misses his couple of games through injury or illness.

BRIGHTON & HOVE, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 8, 2023: Liverpool's goalkeeper Vitezslav Jaros during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Liverpool FC at the American Express Community Stadium. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Without naming anyone specifically, Liverpool may need to look at a youngster, like Kelleher was a couple of years ago, who is willing to play second fiddle as they develop.

If they are a success, we will have the same conundrum in two or three years’ time.

JOANNA: It’s a tough one, especially knowing Alisson will likely miss a number of games – such is his bizarre injury record.

You want and need a strong No. 2, and while I can understand shouts for Jaros – he ticks a lot of boxes – I think I would look to the transfer market for the solution.

A promising goalkeeper with experience and one who will accept and thrive in an environment where Alisson is the undisputed No. 1 is needed.

Kelleher bridged the gulf in quality during Alisson‘s absence, and it would leave a lot for the next No. 2 to live up to.

 

Would you sell Luis Diaz for the right offer?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 18, 2024: Liverpool's Luis Díaz reacts after missing a chance during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JACK: Reluctantly, yes.

He’ll be 28 in January, his output of 24 goals and 13 assists in 98 games isn’t outstanding and there are plenty of options to replace him.

Even with Barcelona’s financial issues they still seem to scrape the funds together for major signings every summer, and if Liverpool can at least recoup the £50 million they spent on him at 25, it would be a boon.

I could see Gakpo becoming first choice on that left flank under Slot, with Nunez still more convincing there than up front too.

Sell Diaz and put those funds towards a long-term replacement for Salah on the right.

SAM: Not this summer, no.

With an extended Champions League, we are in for a long season and Diaz has proven himself to be durable.

The only way we would sell is if we have someone better lined up and that seems unlikely at this moment in time.

It is worth noting most of the wingers linked have been right-sided forwards, indicating Liverpool aren’t actively pursuing Diaz successors yet.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 18, 2024: Liverpool's Luis Díaz during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JOANNA: I’m leaning towards saying no on this one.

I really like Diaz and what he can offer – when he’s full of confidence and running at the opposition – so it would have to be more than just the right offer for me to accept him moving on.

As Sam noted, Liverpool would need to have someone better in mind and ready to make an instant impact for it to be worth it, and I’m just not seeing that as a possibility currently.

We need to see more output from him, but I’m hopeful he can do that after his best goal return (13) last season.

 

Are there any positions you think have been forgotten so far this transfer window?

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Tuesday, January 17, 2023: Wolverhampton Wanderers' Rayan Aït-Nouri during the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JACK: I’d say left-back. If Slot’s sticking with the system that he had success with at Feyenoord, he’ll be asking a lot of his left-sider.

Robertson showed at the back end of last season that he can still provide that thrust and attacking quality, but he’ll be 31 in March and will eventually need replacing.

Tsimikas is not a long-term option and unless one of Luke Chambers or Owen Beck steps up, Liverpool will need another left-back.

Look at Milos Kerkez at Bournemouth, Rayan Ait-Nouri at Wolves or even Quilindschy Hartman at Feyenoord – there are plenty of viable candidates out there.

SAM: While I can understand Jack wanting another left-back, Beck, Chambers and Gomez could all play there if needed.

It is worth saying the obvious, too, that Tsimikas is still a Liverpool player.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 18, 2024: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Unless Nunez suddenly finds his shooting boots early in the season, I would be looking at strikers, ready to pull the trigger for one in January.

While Jota would ideally be our main attacker, he is simply too injury-prone to be given that responsibility.

JOANNA: Considering there have been no concrete moves for any player, I’d say all of them.

But left-back is certainly one of them when you consider how key the position is for Slot – as Jack noted – and how Tsimikas always needs too many games to settle in and find form.

Not that it has been forgotten per se, but a new defensive-minded midfielder is a must, in my opinion.

Wataru Endo has plenty to offer but we saw his limitations, and I don’t want to see Alexis Mac Allister back there as the next default option, not when it’s been made known Liverpool have been aware of the situation for years.

The squad has shown its promise, but it can be elevated with smart movement in the window – hopefully, Michael Edwards and Richard Hughes have a few aces up their sleeves!