Having made a blistering start to the 2019/20 season, you’d be forgiven for thinking Liverpool don’t really need to make any investments in the January transfer market.
However, with the Reds balancing a number of commitments this month — including travelling to Qatar for the Fifa Club World Cup — there is bound to be a strain on Jurgen Klopp’s squad.
Liverpool currently sit 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League table and look on the verge of finally ending that 30-year-old for a title, while they’re still going strong in the Champions League and have the small matter of a Merseyside derby in the FA Cup third round next month — stakes are high at Anfield right now.
So, with all this in mind, how might Klopp look to strengthen his Liverpool squad to bring yet more glory to the red half of Merseyside? Let’s take a look.
What positions that need strengthening in the Liverpool squad?
That Liverpool made no major signings over the summer and have still made such a strong start to the season is a testament to the players already at Klopp’s disposal, as well as the manager’s ability to get the very best out of them week after week.
That said, the Reds’ schedule has become congested beyond all belief and a number of positions are going to require back-up if they’re to sustain this kind of form.
Central midfield has often been a position in which many have urged Klopp to beef up, with some suggesting the German lacks creativity in this area. However, the return to fitness of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has certainly helped here, while Takumi Minamino’s arrival from RB Salzburg looks imminent and should provide Liverpool with plenty of thrust through the middle. Furthermore, the Japan international is also well capable of playing across the forward line, whether it be in a Mohamed Salah/Sadio Mane-esque role cutting in from out wide, or through the middle as a false nine a la Roberto Firmino. The 24-year-old offers Klopp options in a plethora of positions.
One area which does need serious attention, though is at full-back. Yes, in Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson, the Reds pretty much have the best full-back pairing in the Premier League — if not Europe — and both are devastatingly effective but beyond them, Klopp is desperately short of cover. James Milner does an admirable job covering on either side but isn’t a natural — nor is he getting any younger — while Liverpool’s injury problems at centre-back make it difficult to switch Joe Gomez there as Klopp has done in the past.
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Speaking of centre-backs, Joel Matip has been sidelined since October with a knee injury and isn’t expected back for some time yet, while both Gomez and Dejan Lovren have had their fair share of fitness issues during their time at Liverpool. For a long-term, sustainable period of success, Klopp is going to need to bolster this area and take the load placed upon Virgil van Dijk’s shoulders.
Rumoured Liverpool transfer targets?
While Minamino’s arrival will add some much-needed depth to Klopp’s squad, the 24-year-old may well be tasked with a number of roles, meaning further numbers will be required.
One man who has been consistently linked with a move to Anfield for a number of transfer windows now is Germany international striker, Timo Werner.
The RB Leipzig man has been in red-hot form so far this season, scoring 18 goals in 16 Bundesliga games to help his side top the table, while he’s also added a further three in the Champions League. But Die Roten Bullen have feared his departure for some time now and, according to the Independent, are already lining up a bid for sister club RB Salzburg’s Erling Braut Haaland.
Werner to Liverpool? Five key things to know…
- Werner has scored 84 goals for Leipzig since joining in 2016.
- He’s also bagged 11 goals in 29 caps for Germany.
- The 23-year-old has long been linked with Liverpool, as well as Real Madrid.
- Reports suggest Leipzig are now lining up replacements as they fear Werner could leave in January.
- Timo Werner transfer odds: Liverpool (7/2), Atletico Madrid (11/2), Bayern (7/1), Real Madrid (10/1).
*Timo Werner to sign for before 1st February 2020 with William Hill. 18+ only. For more information go to BeGambleAware.org
As mentioned, Liverpool also need some cover at full-back. Nathanial Clyne’s injury means the likes of Gomez and Milner would have to continue deputising at right-back but on the other flank, the Reds are being linked with a far more long-term prospect in the form of Coventry City’s Sam McCallum.
The 19-year-old has already featured in over 1,000 minutes of League One football for the Sky Blues this season and has seriously impressed with his energy and ability to deliver in the final third — McCallum has averaged 1.1 key passes per 90 minutes in League One this season.
Obviously, with Robertson in place, coupled with McCallum’s youth and inexperience, the teenager would play an understudy role to the Scotland international. But he has a lot of longevity and with Liverpool’s hectic schedule, might just get more minutes on the pitch than he would usually bargain for.
According to the Daily Mail, Liverpool will face competition from the likes of Aston Villa, Leicester City and West Brom from McCallum’s signature. That European Cup in their trophy cabinet, along with the space they’re clearing for a Premier League title should give them the edge here.
Possible Liverpool outgoings:
While Liverpool’s midfield options have come under scrutiny, one man who definitely seems destined for the exit door is Adam Lallana. The 31-year-old has fallen right down the pecking order at Anfield and the few chances he has been given this season have been in the No.6 role, rather than his favoured position as a playmaker.
According to the Athletic, Lallana is set to leave at the end of the season, but should an offer come in which suits both the club and the player himself, Liverpool might just be tempted to part ways.
Another player linked with the Anfield door is Swiss forward Xherdan Shaqiri. The former Stoke man has done a more-than-passable job in covering both up-front and in midfield when Klopp requires him and recently got on the scoresheet during Liverpool’s 5-2 Merseyside derby win over Everton.
However, that doesn’t change the fact that he’s managed just 174 minutes of Premier League football this season, which is absolutely nowhere near enough for a 28-year-old. If Werner were to pitch up on Merseyside, this could only get worse for Shaqiri.
Former Stoke teammate Charlie Adam has already suggested Shaqiri might look to leave Anfield.
“The only problem about Liverpool’s issues will be someone like Shaqiri, who wants to probably go and play,” Adam told BBC Radio 5 Live recently.
“I think there will be more of the players that are not involved that will want to go and play somewhere, and they might bring others in.”
For his part, Shaqiri has actually tried to quell the idea of him leaving the club, but a player of his reputation could still fetch Liverpool a pretty penny, and is he really in the position to turn down regular football?