With Ibrahima Konate plugging the hole in his defence, Jurgen Klopp appears to be shifting his attention toward Liverpool’s attack.
The front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino has struck fear into the very best defences around Europe over the past few year, inspiring the Reds to Champions League and Premier League titles in the process.
But last season, Mane and Firmino managed just 20 league goals between them, while all three are aged 29 and will have hit 30 by the time the 2022/23 campaign comes around.
What’s more, Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri have failed to provide reliable back-up options over the years, even if the former is a Champions League final hero and both have scored crucial Merseyside derby goals against Everton. Both are linked with moves away from Anfield but regardless of what they do, Klopp certainly won’t turn his nose up at some better options to push his existing front three and go into rotation with them.
William Hill‘s 2021/22 Premier League title odds…
- Man City – 4/6
- Liverpool – 5/1
- Chelsea – 5/1
- Man Utd – 8/1
- Leicester – 40/1
So, who could Liverpool sign to beef up their attack and keep Salah, Mane and Firmino on top of their game? Here are some dream, realistic and wildcard options, based on a series of transfer rumours that have emerged in the past week or so.
Dream: Federico Chiesa
From his glorious semi-final goal against Spain to completing more take-ons (9) than any of his teammates, Federico Chiesa was one of the shining lights of Italy’s Euro 2020 success. But having spent the summer working closely alongside him, Roberto Mancini’s No.2, Alberico Evani, believes there’s even more to come from Chiesa.
“[Federico] Chiesa will get even stronger over time,” said Evani, who feels there is one particular attribute that makes Chiesa one of the most deadly forwards in Europe.
“He has this deadly change of pace and can change the game like few others in Europe. When he steps up a gear and accelerates, you just cannot keep up with him.
“He also shoots well with both feet and maintains that technique even when running at speed.”
Chiesa’s aforementioned goal against Spain was reminiscent of those we’ve become used to from Salah and Mane scoring over the years, chopping inside to leave an isolated defender in the dust before curling a precision effort inside the far post. And it’s something he’s become an expert in at club level, too, scoring nine Serie A goals last season from 7.23 xG.
Chiesa is already a starter-calibre player who could be rotated in and out of Klopp’s XI and, at 23, would represent a wonderful investment in Liverpool’s future. Of course, a 23-year-old European Championship winner doesn’t come cheap and, in a post that suggests the Reds have made enquiries, Fabrizio Romano claims Juventus consider the player ‘untouchable’.
Given their previous transfer strategy, it’s hard to see Liverpool pushing any further for Chiesa but if they did, what a player they’d be signing.
Realistic: Jarrod Bowen
It’s been a remarkable rise for Jarrod Bowen, who has gone from playing in the Conference with Hereford to firing West Ham United into the Europa League in just seven years. Signing for Liverpool, as The Athletic’s James Pearce has suggested is a possibility, would be quite the end-point to that journey.
On the face of it, Bowen feels like an underwhelming choice given his humble roots. But dig a little deeper and you can see why Klopp would fancy him. The 24-year-old notched eight goals and five assists in the Premier League last season and was key to sustaining the Hammers’ challenge for European qualification. But perhaps even more impressively, of the 29 chances Bowen created, 11 of them were classed as ‘big chances’. That rate of 37.9% was even more prolific than the likes of Bruno Fernandes (21%, 20 big chances created, 95 chances created) and Kevin De Bruyne (23.6%, 19 big chances created, 80 chances created).
Bowen occupies similar spaces on the pitch as Salah and is akin in terms of his physical stature. Also like Salah, Bowen loves to cut inside onto his left foot to unleash shots on goal, while his pace makes him frustratingly hard to stop for defenders.
West Ham boss David Moyes has drawn comparisons between Bowen and another English player to rise through the leagues, Jamie Vardy, insisting his winger is hungry enough to achieve even higher feats.
William Hill‘s 2021/22 Premier League Golden Boot odds…
- Harry Kane – 3/1
- Mohamed Salah – 4/1
- Gabriel Jesus – 16/1
- Timo Werner – 16/1
- Raheem Sterling – 16/1
“Jamie Vardy is a really good example [for Jarrod] of what you can do if you dedicate yourself and you don’t give up, you don’t let anybody put you down and keep going,” Moyes said in April.
“That raw potential came from inside hunger, to take the chance when you get it. I wouldn’t say it’s proving people wrong but to prove to yourself you can compete and Jarrod Bowen is doing that. He’s a great example, he has come through Hull and is trying to make his way in the Premier League.
“But the really big thing is that you can’t lose your hunger, you can’t ever think you’ve made [it] or can stop working at what you’re good at.
“The minute you stop, it finishes for you. Jarrod is really hungry, he is at it. He’s still trying to establish himself in his first full season in the Premier League and you’d have to say he’s making a good go of it, he’s doing a good job.”
The peaks don’t come any higher in English football than Liverpool, while Bowen’s reported £35m price tag is much more in the Reds’ wheelhouse after already laying out £36m on Konate.
Wildcard: Adama Traore
“[Traore] is unplayable in moments, it’s unbelievable,” Klopp said of Adama Traore following a 2-1 win for Liverpool over Wolves in January 2020. “What a player. It’s not only him but he’s so good.”
Sure, we all know Traore’s end product can be frustrating but, my word, he’s so fast. The 25-year-old has completed a staggering 401 take-ons over the past three seasons, at least 70 more than any other player in the Premier League during that time. And while he’s only managed seven goals and 12 assists in that period, you’d have to think those tallies would go up when playing alongside the likes of Salah and Firmino.
There are fewer than 24 months left on his Wolves contract, sparking a rumour Liverpool hope to snag Traore for a cut-price £30m. Should anything come of this claim, you’d imagine that fee will likely be a little higher but still far less than Chiesa’s price tag.
With Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold providing width from full-back and Firmino dropping deep to create space, the thought of Traore tearing behind the opposition defence with that blistering speed is a truly terrifying thought for literally every other team in the Premier League.