Football Features

Football Manager 2020: The ultimate Liverpool team guide

By Ben Green

Football Manager 2020 guide to Liverpool

Published: 14:42, 4 December 2019

Liverpool are currently lording it at the top of the Premier League table, possess one of the most well-balanced and entertaining playing squads in world football, and boast the status of European champions – who wouldn’t want to manage them on Football Manager 2020?

At the meticulous hands of Jurgen Klopp, the Reds are once again an indomitable force, evoking fond memories of those halcyon European nights under Bob Paisley and Bill Shankly.

They have reemerged as one of the continent’s most revered and devastating sides and are now looking to end their Premier League duck, with Liverpool currently eight points clear at the top of the table.

So, it’s safe to say that Klopp has done a pretty impressive job. He’s brought European silverware back to Anfield, assembled a squad replete with world class talent, and more importantly, is giving Pep Guardiola sleepless nights.

But, for all the excellence of this German technocrat, of course things could be even better. So, do you think you have what it takes to succeed Klopp and take Liverpool to even greater heights? If so, here is everything you need to now about the North West giants on FM20…

Expectations

As you arrive on Merseyside you will be greeted by chairman Thomas Werner who outlines four philosophies steeped in the traditions of Liverpool that you must adhere to.

Those are:

  • Develop players using the club’s youth system.
  • Play attacking football.
  • Sign players under the age of 23 for the first team.
  • Play entertaining football.

Of course, you may have your own footballing ideology, but when you join a club as deep-rooted in tradition as Liverpool, then there really is no point trying to rewrite the rulebook.

Next, and perhaps more importantly for most FM aficionados, the transfer budget. Having spent very little this summer, the board provide you with an eye-watering, lucrative war chest of £102m.

That can be adjusted to circa £114m should you choose, while your wage budget is also a very appetising proposition at around £3m p/w to dish out.

However, it is not a complete utopia at Anfield, there are some stringent expectations, such as reaching the Champions League semi-final and FA Cup final, as well as challenging for the Premier League title – these three objectives are non-negotiable.

Finally, you are blessed with excellent youth and training facilities, as well as good youth recruitment, while you also boast an exceptional 12-man coaching team, including the likes of Peter Krawietz, Pepijn Lijnders and Alex Inglethorpe.

Tactics

Right off the bat you are presented with Liverpool’s best XI in the team report which, surprise surprise, is Klopp’s favoured 4-3-3 system.

Liverpool have happened upon their optimal setup under Klopp, and you could use the German’s blueprint as a template, or perhaps deviate from this intense counterpressing system and adopt your own doctrine.

However, with the players at your disposal, we recommend sticking with this formation, or perhaps some iteration of Klopp’s system, say a 4-2-3-1.

The 4-3-3 is pretty self-explanatory with a back-four of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Andrew Robertson, while the front three of course consist of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.

The midfield trident is where you can start to experiment, but Fabinho being at the base is a pretty safe bet, providing excellent cover for your defence, while allowing Georginio Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson, or any midfielder of your choice greater freedom further up the pitch.

Alternatively you could opt for a 4-2-3-1 – as pictured above – which would see a No. 10 come into the equation. Klopp once utilised Philippe Coutinho here and has even tested Firmino further back, but Wijnaldum plays a near-identical role with the Netherlands as a shadow striker, so would ultimately thrive here.

It would also mean jeopardising Fabinho’s preferred role as a deep-lying playmaker just in front of the backline, transforming him from silent workhorse to a more prominent battler in the middle of the park, but this could work excellently with Naby Keita’s engine alongside him.

What’s more, you can actually select Klopp’s famous gegenpressing system on the game, with high defensive lines, high tempos and high lines of engagement. Oh, and one final point, Alisson is sidelined for three to four months, so Adrian will have to start for now.

Key Men

Virgil van Dijk

The Ballon d’Or runner-up needs no introduction. He is one of the game’s best ball-playing centre-backs and will be imperative to anything you hope to achieve on your FM20 save. With the board seemingly intent on you playing attacking and entertaining football, having competent passers of the ball will be key, and Van Dijk is certainly one of those.

Fabinho

The versatility of Fabinho makes him one of football’s most unique players. He can effectively slot into any system and will flourish. With an insatiable blend of key attacking and defensive stats, this elegant metronome offers plenty of dynamism and balance. The multifunctional Brazilian is also proficient at right-back, which will be essential when Alexander-Arnold tires.

Mohamed Salah

Salah is another, like Van Dijk, who needs little description. As an inside forward there are few more devastating than the Egyptian wide-man, who offers explosive pace and a keen eye for goal. He is the figurehead of Liverpool and is also comfortable in the No. 9 position, so there is room for experimentation, perhaps even deploying him in Thomas Muller’s famed ‘Raumdeuter’ position.

Best Youth Products

Curtis Jones

The 18-year-old is highly regarded on Merseyside and with good reason. With key playmaker stats, including exquisite dribbling, first touch, passing and technique, this attacking prodigy can excel under the right guidance. His final third versatility will also allow him to shuffle across the frontline, be it on the wing or behind the striker.

Rhian Brewster

Another who is expected to make the grade on Merseyside, Brewster has had ill luck with injury issues during his fledgling career but is now back up and running and boasts quite ridiculous stats for such a young player. His ‘Advanced Forward’ attributes are really quite impressive, with excellent finishing, dribbling and acceleration. He would be a fine understudy to Firmino, as well as offering something a little different from the selfless Brazilian striker.

Harvey Elliott

At just 16 Elliot already has desirable technique and dribbling traits. He may not boast the coveted five-star potential ability rating, but with a little patience and the correct training, he could development into a fine Premier League winger.

Transfer Targets

Alex Telles

When you first join the club one of the weaknesses highlighted is a lack of depth in the left-back position, well Porto’s attack-minded wing-back would certainly resolve that issue. He possesses quite absurd attributes in terms of distribution and end product, including very good crossing, corners and free-kicks.

Should you choose to bring in Telles, you would have two insanely proficient dead-ball specialists on either flank – imagine Alexander-Arnold swinging in corners from the left, and Telles from the right, Van Dijk and Joel Matip would have an absolute field day.

Of course, with Robertson on the books, this is perhaps not a position high on the agenda.

Declan Rice

Rice is a player who just offers that something a little bit different. He is not a tempo-setter, a la Fabinho, or an outright destroyer, but rather somewhere in between. His ability to play anywhere centrally, either at centre-back, defensive midfield or central midfield makes him one of FM20’s most coveted youngsters. He truly develops into one of the best defensive midfielders on the game and could shine alongside Fabinho, with one a deep-lying playmaker and the other an anchorman.

Dominik Szoboszlai

The Hungarian teenager is one of the game’s best wonderkids and goes on to reach truly incredible heights. He won’t break the bank either and is already capable of playing at Premier League level. Liverpool currently don’t have an attack-minded mezzala, someone capable of surging up the pitch in intricate strides and unlocking doors. Sure, Wijnaldum offers plenty of energy and zeal, but does he have that innate ability to put it on a sixpence consistently? Szoboszlai does.   

No Longer Needed

Nathaniel Clyne

Such a promising player at one stage, Clyne has seen his Liverpool career ravaged by injury problems and faces another lengthy spell on the sidelines. With Alexander-Arnold Liverpool’s now undisputed right-back, and players like Fabinho capable of slotting in if needs be, it may be time to sever ties with the ex-Crystal Palace man once he recovers from his latest cruciate ligament setback.

Adam Lallana

If you opt for the 4-2-3-1 then Lallana may be worth keeping around, but if Klopp’s preferred 4-3-3 system is your go-to, then you’re probably best to find the 31-year-old a new home. With wages of £110k p/w, the England international is an expensive benchwarmer and will unlikely supplant the central midfielders currently at your disposal. He is capable of playing on either wing should you choose to rest Salah or Mane, but then you have younger and arguably better options here in Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi.

Dejan Lovren 

Lovren is another like Lallana who could come in handy down the line, but the Croat is fourth in the centre-back pecking order, behind Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip, so is it worth keeping him around on those wages just in case? With a value of £33.5m, you could make a tidy profit here and recruit a wonderkid instead, someone who would thrive under the guidance of a Van Dijk and would not see his attributes drop if he doesn’t play – think Malang Sarr or Jerome Onguene.