Liverpool delivered a remarkable sixth Champions League crown last season, their first major trophy under Jürgen Klopp and first under any manager since the 2012 League Cup with Kenny Dalglish – before that, you have to go back to the 2006 FA Cup triumph under Rafael Benítez.
After a third major trophy in thirteen years, most Liverpool fans assumed the club would go out into the transfer market and sign another three or four long-term targets to fill the final few holes in an outstanding squad.
The old cliché is always to strengthen while you are ahead when you are doing well – to keep topping up your squad with a couple of fresh faces that keeps everyone on their toes.
No need to go big in 2019 after 2018 outlay
However, after spending almost £180m on Alisson, Xherdan Shaqiri, Naby Keïta and Fabinho last summer, Liverpool decided to take a step back and consolidate what they had rather than recruiting more major names.
Bonuses were paid out to the squad following their Champions League success, new contracts have been signed by a number of Liverpool’s top players in the last year, and reportedly more are to follow in Joël Matip (very much welcomed with only one year left on his deal), Virgil van Dijk and possibly James Milner, though the latter’s future may be decided later in the season.
Regardless, Liverpool’s priority has been keeping hold of what they have – a squad which claimed 97 points in the Premier League title last season, smashing the previous points record for a runners-up finish, alongside their sixth European Cup.
Their stance is understandable given Liverpool have lost so many key players in the last decade – Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano, Fernando Torres, Luis Suárez, Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho, even the likes of Raul Meireles felt they had better chances of success elsewhere.
Liverpool will always have the history of a superclub, but now they are once again one of the biggest sides in Europe. To ensure this status remains for years to come, keeping the current team together is first and foremost the greatest importance at Anfield.
Youth and a little bit of experience for summer signings
Then thoughts turn to the future.
Adrián’s arrival aside, replacing Simon Mignolet as the number two goalkeeper to Alisson, the signings of youngsters Sepp van den Berg and Harvey Elliott illustrates Liverpool and Klopp’s desire to sign the best young talent around – and certainly before they become worth the crazy values that the transfer market has attracted for the likes of João Félix.
Both will be part of the first-team setup, further emphasizing Klopp’s faith in youngsters to complete the gaps in his squad.
Adam Lewis and Yasser Larouci will compete as Andy Robertson’s understudy at left-back, Ki-Jana Hoever will deputise for Trent Alexander-Arnold in the right-back position (though the likes of Joe Gomez and Milner may be selected for the bigger games if Trent is absent), van den Berg will be another option for Klopp in the centre of defence and Elliott out wide, while there is much excitement for Rhian Brewster’s prospects this season, as he looks to establish himself as an attacking alternative to Liverpool’s fabled front three of Sadio Mané, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.
Transfers can wait, the season is about to begin!
Liverpool may be keeping their powder dry for some big incomings next summer or could not manage to agree on acceptable terms with other clubs for some of their top targets. Regardless, every club, even Manchester City, are a little light in some areas, as no squads are ever perfect, which just adds excitement to the season ahead.
For the Reds, they have a squad, a manager and a fanbase hungry to bring more trophies to Anfield, as they look to ensure the next thirteen years are not as lean as the last.