Liverpool transfers: Positions the Reds must strengthen before summer deadline

  • Liverpool have already signed Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai
  • Jurgen Klopp is looking to rebuild his side following a torrid campaign
  • The Reds are without Champions League football after finishing fifth

Klopp is overseeing a major rebuild this summer
Klopp is overseeing a major rebuild this summer / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages
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Having endured his worst full season at Anfield, Jurgen Klopp is desperate to take Liverpool back to greatness.

The problems with the Reds were clear for all to see last season. Their lack of midfield presence made them a really simple team to play against as the counter-pressing that helped Klopp lift every trophy available to him at Anfield failed.

However, that was not the only issue with last season. A woefully exposed defence did not help, the insanely high line was easily bypassed and the right channel in behind Trent Alexander-Arnold was a constant kryptonite.

Simply put, the whole team was a mess at times and Liverpool desperately need to sort the issues that plagued them this summer. Here are some of the positions the Reds need to strengthen.


Goalkeeper

Caoimhin Kelleher
Kelleher has struggled for minutes despite impressing at Anfield / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

Of course, there is no need to strengthen Liverpool's goalkeeper position as things stand. Alisson rightfully won the club's player of the year award last season and the Reds are indebted to him for their European qualification. The Brazilian continues to be one of the world's greatest goalkeepers and Liverpool fans would happily keep him on Merseyside until he was 50.

However, there is a possible situation in which Liverpool are left short in between the sticks this summer. In Caoimhin Kelleher, Klopp has a wonderful second-choice goalkeeper, but the Irishman's need for regular minutes may prompt a move away from Anfield. Despite Klopp's eagerness to keep the 24-year-old around, Liverpool may not be able to stand in his way should he demand a deserved move in search of first-team football.

That would leave Liverpool with two goalkeepers along with Adrian following his contract extension, though the Spaniard rarely looks comfortable stepping into Alisson's shoes. Liverpool may opt to use more of their second-choice goalkeeper in the Europa League next season, meaning whoever that may be must be up to standard.


Right back

Trent Alexander-Arnold
Alexander-Arnold struggled defensively last season / Jan Kruger/GettyImages

The award for the most talked about full-back of all-time has to go to Trent Alexander-Arnold. The discourse around the 24-year-old is fairly repetitive: he's not a brilliant defender but he is sensational with the ball at his feet.

Klopp tried to fix this narrative by moving Alexander-Arnold into midfield towards the end of last season, shifting the Reds to a three-box-three formation in possession. The experiment got the best out of the right-back, who finished the campaign with two goals and nine assists. However, the space vacated by Alexander-Arnold on Liverpool's right flank was frequently exposed on the counter-attack, leaving the Reds often overwhelmed on the break.

Finding a player with a unique enough skill set to rotate with Alexander-Arnold will be near impossible and, with Calvin Ramsay heading on loan to Preston North End, that leaves young Conor Bradley, fresh from an impressive stint with Bolton, as Liverpool's only traditional right-back option.

Whether or not Liverpool's number 66 has a future in midfield will become clear in time, but the Reds still need an understudy capable of filling his shoes. Unless Bradley has a mightily impressive pre-season, Klopp may need to dip into the market to find reinforcements.


Centre back

Virgil van Dijk
Van Dijk has struggled since returning from a long injury in 2021 / Alex Livesey/GettyImages

A conversation had almost as frequently as the one about Alexander-Arnold's defensive deficiencies is Virgil van Dijk's struggle to recapture his peak form.

The weight of carrying a Liverpool defence on his back - teamed with a mighty scissor kick form Jordan Pickford - has resulted in a pretty dramatic nosedive in performances from the Dutchman.

Ibrahima Konate has helped ease the load but the recent performances of Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, the latter having just a year left on his contract, have left a lot to be desired. The Reds need a fast and versatile centre-back who can act as Van Dijk's challenger and successor, enabling Klopp to persist with his brave high line.

Alexander-Arnold's move into midfield has often left Andy Robertson covering as a third centre-back, something which doesn't come naturally to the offensive-minded full-back. Liverpool are ideally looking for a left-footed defender who could also fill in at left-back, though not many exist at the top level.

Micky van de Ven of Wolfsburg has been linked, along with Sporting's Goncalo Inacio, as Liverpool ramp up their search for extra defensive solidity.


Defensive midfield

Fabinho
Fabinho struggled for form last season / James Williamson - AMA/GettyImages

Let's be honest, Fabinho had a bit of a stinker last season. The 29-year-old was extremely exposed with very few runners around him and ended up looking like a giraffe on roller skates at times. The Brazilian's form did pick up towards the end of the season, with Curtis Jones' return helping him out, but Fabinho may need a little more rest next campaign.

While Stefan Bajcetic may be seen as Fabinho's eventual successor, the 18-year-old still needs time to adjust to life at Anfield, meaning a foray into the market may be necessary.

With Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai already signed, there is some debate as to whether the Reds will bring in a third midfielder. Romeo Lavia is reportedly a big target and the Southampton man could be a great option for Klopp.

The 19-year-old has a little more Premier League experience than Bajcetic and is seen as more of a disruptor in the centre of the park. Bajcetic was capable of playing as an eight last season, so bringing Lavia in would not completely stunt the Spaniard's development.


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Right wing

Mohamed Salah
Salah will miss part of next season due to international commitments / Jan Kruger/GettyImages

Mohamed Salah is one of the few Liverpool players who rarely misses a game. His drive and commitment to maintaining his body mean that the Egyptian almost refuses to sit on the bench, even in dead rubbers. His injury record is superb but the winger is now 31 years old and his minutes will need to be managed more closely in the next few years.

While new signing Szoboszlai and youngsters Harvey Elliott and Ben Doak can play on the right flank, a more natural and experienced winger may be needed to fill Salah's shoes.

While it looks unlikely that the Reds will prioritise bringing in another forward, the Salah succession plan needs to be prepared for sooner rather than later to avoid Liverpool being stung like they have in other areas of the pitch.


LISTEN NOW

On this week's edition of Talking Transfers, part of the 90min podcast network, Scott Saunders is joined by Toby CudworthGraeme Bailey and Sean Walsh to discuss Man Utd's priorities after agreeing a deal for Mason Mount, the latest on Arsenal's move for Declan Rice, Tottenham's targets and more!

If you can't see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!