Liverpool

Liverpool can 'go again' by signing these players

With the Premier League in the bag, Jurgen Klopp must look to refine his squad for a bigger challenge next year

 
8:00am on Wednesday 8th July 2020
By
Nicholas Hughes

The hallmark of a champion team is ruthlessness, and the unrelenting will to improve and continue to create daylight between themselves and the rest of the competition.

After confirming a first-ever Premier League title, Liverpool will turn their attentions to next season and strengthening the squad for another assault on English and European football.

The financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic will make it all the more difficult to make this already fantastic squad a better one, but the Reds need to look at bolstering their depth in key positions if they are to retain their title.

LEFT-BACK

Andrew Robertson remains Liverpool’s only senior left-back, showing his importance to the side when returning to the side in their 4-0 trouncing of Crystal Palace last week.

Liverpool’s No. 26 ranks in the Top 50 for Expected Assists (xA), Key Passes P90 and secondary assists per 90 – that is, the pass before the assist to the goal.

Attacking full-backs are so important in the modern game, and someone with very Robertson-like numbers is Augsburg’s Philipp Max. His 6.8 xA is greater than Robertson’s, and he poses a considerable goal threat with his 0.25 xG per 90.

Sergio Reguilon has also impressed this season for Sevilla, on loan from Real Madrid. He outperforms Robertson in Key Passes P90 and has similar numbers in forward passes. His 1.2 shots per 90 is also well above average.

Jamal Lewis and Ruben Vinagre could be seen as more long-term options from fellow Premier League clubs, but Klopp may opt with more reliable quality, with Yasser Larouci already offering youth in the position.

CENTRE FORWARD

With plenty of depth already in midfield, Liverpool’s remaining needs fall in the forward line. The question remains: what if one of the big three gets injured?

Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino need a supporting cast. Divock Origi will always be a Liverpool legend after his Champions League heroics last season, but Klopp needs more at his disposal.

Celtic’s French star Odsonne Edouard was enjoying an outstanding campaign before Scottish football’s abrupt end, with 27 goals and 16 assists to his name in 3,454 minutes.

By comparison, Firmino has played 116 more minutes and scored just 11 goals with 11 assists, massively underperforming his xG of 17.4.

Edouard attempts twice as many dribbles, gets more touches inside the opposition penalty area and hits the target with greater accuracy, all while matching Firmino’s passing statistics.

Canadian starlet Jonathan David has made a Firmino-esque transition from a No. 10 to a false nine for KAA Gent, and to devastating effect, with 30 goals and 11 assists in all competitions.

The 20-year-old has been supremely prolific in front of goal, with a 26.32% conversion rate completing blowing away Firmino’s value of 10.8%.

And Patson Daka has picked up from where Erling Haaland left off at Red Bull Salzburg, with his absurd 1.20 non-penalty goals P90 in the Austrian Bundesliga, exceeding the likes of Sergio Aguero, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi this season.

Another right-winger would also complement the front three, with Xherdan Shaqiri looking set to depart and Harry Wilson’s future very much up in the air as he has spent another season out on loan.

Adama Traore has been subject of persistent links throughout this breakout season of his for Wolverhampton Wanderers, and would give the Reds a different option.

His 13 assists in all competitions put him in the but he has scored just six goals, a number that is dwarfed by Salah’s 23 for the Reds.

That said, he averages only 1.3 shots P90 and would find himself in advanced positions more often in Liverpool’s system, perhaps leading to a better scoring output. He does have a similar goal conversion rate to Salah, 13.3% compared to the Egyptians' 14%.

Being a right-footer on the right-hand side, much of his work is done in wider areas rather than as an inside forward and some tactical flexibility would need to be found between him and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Bryan Mbeumo has enjoyed a stellar debut season with Brentford in the Championship, with 15 goals to go along with six assists as the Bees chase promotion into the Premier League.

At just 20, Mbeumo has caught the eye in the Championship and could be the successor to Salah. He is a very similar player, diminutive in stature but excellent on the ball, quick, can drift across the front three and most importantly, he loves to score goals on his left foot.

Gerard Moreno provides a more proven option with 15 goals and four assists to his name in La Liga for Villarreal, but at 28 years old, a move for him would fall outside of Klopp’s usual recruitment strategy.

So Max, David and Traore are together valued at £60m – the same as one Timo Werner. Liverpool were forced to pass on the German due to financial constraints of COVID-19, but does that mean they have a Plan B in the market? One would think the answer is yes.

Pandemic or not, Liverpool will suffer if they do not strengthen the team ahead of next season. If they are to back up their league success and issue a response in the Champions League they must avoid remaining stagnant.

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