14th August 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
At the completion of the 2016/2017 Premier League crusade, where Liverpool finished a credible fourth and secured their chance to qualify for next season's Champions League, their fans were expecting plenty of spending to bolster the squad.
Although the Reds have bought in dynamic Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah from AS Roma for a sizeable €42 million, former Hull City fullback Andrew Robertson for €9 million and ex Chelsea starlet Dominic Solanke on a free transfer, many have still been left scratching their heads at the lack of strengthening.
The defence was considered an area that could do with improvement, and Southampton's elegant centre-back, Virgil van Dijk, looked like he was the man do just that. But unfortunately Liverpool were forced to pull out of the race to sign the Dutchman due to the Saints reporting Liverpool to the league for tapping up the player.
Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool's intriguing manager, doesn't see his backline as too much of a conundrum, though, stressing he's only going to bring someone in if the player and the deal fits. "Look out there and tell me five that would make us stronger. Five. Then you win a prize. It's difficult how it is," he said.
"We have four. I don't think we need more. In the moment I'm fine. We are open until Aug. 31. We cannot force these things and we would never get a centre back just because. We have the need, we have some, but you don't take any. It doesn't work. I don't see it [the defence] as a concern."
At least the rejuvenation of Spanish flyer, Alberto Moreno, has been something to cheer about in preseason, with the fullback's displays being hugely impressive. He's gone from being ostensibly surplus to requirements to most likely now first choice, something Klopp highlighted as to why sometimes it's better to work with what you have.
The fact Philippe Coutinho has remained in Merseyside so far amid heavy rumours linking him with a move to Barcelona to fill the void left by Neymar is another positive, for their star man is absolutely integral for their title winning aspirations this season. "Everybody thought 'he's going, he's going, he's going' but so far nobody is going," Klopp announced on the topic.
We'll have to wait and see how Coutinho's future pans out, but there's no sign of the talk dying down anytime soon, which has only been enhanced by his friend Lucas Leiva leaving for Lazio, rumours still linking another good friend of his in Moreno of a move away and suggestions countryman Roberto Firmino could be moving house which all may leave him a touch more isolated than previously.
Although the failed attempts to sign the aforementioned van Dijk, Mahmoud Dahoud, who opted to join Borussia Dortmund, and most recently RB Leipzig's outstanding Naby Keita have been a source of frustration, club legend Jamie Carragher importantly believes Coutinho will be going nowhere, saying: "In terms of the situation now with Coutinho, not a chance of him going really.
"This window has not been good for Liverpool, which has not helped, and there would be a riot against the owners and the club if he went because this transfer window has not gone how Liverpool wanted."
Klopp's refreshing attitude towards improving the squad must give his players plenty of belief, however, with the German asserting the team is in a fine position to make the step up this term and better last season's efforts. "The plan is that they all make the next step. Of course we want to build on the base of last year. I said we always want to develop this team and there are two things to do -- signings and training so we did both," he insisted.
"The signings are nice, either they play or they push another player. Now it's more difficult to play all the time. Be angry at me, no problem, stay confident, that is important."
Following an impressive preseason that's seen Liverpool register victories over the likes of Bayern Munich, Athletic Bilbao, Hertha Berlin and Leicester City, things on the field have been very encouraging indeed. After a slightly lacklustre showing in their Premier League opening 3-3 draw against Watford, the next massive challenge will come when they face a tough, must see Champions League qualifier vs. Julian Nagelsmann's excellent Hoffenheim side, which really could go either way.
All in all, even though Liverpool haven't made as bigger splash in the transfer market as many had hoped, there's still plenty of reason for optimism ahead of the new season.
More by Edward at Licence to Roam
Optimism despite lack of signings for Liverpool FC's 2017/18 campaign
14th August 2017. By Edward Stratmann.