Liverpool opinion: How Klopp has built a squad that doesn’t need major additions

Until the summer of 2015, three months before the arrival of Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool were a club that usually signed raw talents. The idea was to groom them over two to three seasons and then the big clubs would snap those up players to enhance the quality of their own squads.

For instance, at the end of a rollercoaster 2013/14 campaign where the Steven Gerrard slip was famous and Brendan Rodgers’ Reds missed the title by a whisker, the club were more scared of losing their best player Luis Suarez instead of readying themselves to work wonders again the following season.

That fear eventually turned into reality when the Uruguayan made his move to Barcelona and Liverpool had to contend with replacements of the likes of Rickie Lambert, Mario Balotelli, who, with all due respect, are nowhere near Suarez’s quality.

Arrival of Klopp

When Jurgen Klopp arrived in October 2015, the first of many challenges lying ahead of him was to turn his squad and the city of Liverpool from doubters to believers. And those were the German’s words during his first interview as well.

It took him some time but the former Borussia Dortmund boss has got it right in due course of time.

When he first arrived, muscle injuries to players and inconsistency was the general theme of things. However, the manager remained calm and kept working to improve the quality of this squad.

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From left – Klopp, Edwards and Gordon

In terms of transfer activities, the research work of Michael Edwards, the inputs of Michael Gordon, and Klopp’s trust in the duo have worked wonders in the past two to three summer windows.

The trio has a specific open-book style of work when it comes to identifying players who can better their squad. They don’t always look for the big names; rather the focus is on matching the profile of the player with the system of play currently deployed at Melwood training centre.

Because of this, we have seen since the summer of 2016 that despite not spending enormous money, they have built a squad worthy of challenging for every trophy possible in European and English football.

Furthermore, there is a belief among the players that they can win special things here rather than just making personal progress and win trophies elsewhere.

Shrewd transfer businesses

Take the example of Andy Robertson. Liverpool signed him from a relegated Hull City side for a mere £8m fee in the summer of 2017 (h/t BBC).

Not many approved of that transfer but the combo of Klopp-Gordon-Edwards had faith in their process and now, the left-back is one of the best in the world.

Liverpool also signed Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah in subsequent summers and gelled them with Roberto Firmino as one of the deadliest front lines in Europe.

While these things were put into place, the need for a commanding centre-back was apparent. Virgil van Dijk was earmarked as the transfer target in the summer of 2017 but Southampton weren’t happy with how Liverpool approached them for the transfer.

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At this point in time, any other manager would have panicked and looked for alternative solutions but not Klopp.

He remained calm while Edwards and co. took their time to repair the broken relationship with Southampton and eventually, Van Dijk’s transfer was completed six months after the desired time.

Even though the transfer fee of £75m looks daunting (h/t BBC), the performance of the Dutch superstar in the last 18 months states that he is currently worth much more than that.

With Loris Karius committing blunders in the 2018 Champions League final, Alisson had to be bought and Liverpool did just that, convincing Roma to sell the Brazilian to them ahead of Chelsea or Real Madrid (h/t Metro).

Same was the case with the signings of Fabinho, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Klopp-Edwards-Gordon trio earmarked these progressive midfield players as their targets and got the deals done without much trouble.

Squad is complete and doesn’t require major additions

Having won the Champions League three weeks back, Liverpool are in a situation where they can approach any big player this smmer.

However, things have been pretty quiet so far and the focus should only be on adding backups in certain positions rather than going helter-skelter to enhance the quality of a certain area.

The goalkeeping options are fixed, with Alisson as number one and Simon Mignolet as the backup. The back four are settled, apart from the fact that they need Andy Robertson’s backup after the departure of Alberto Moreno.

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The midfield is an area where Liverpool are most complete. With Naby Keita taking time to settle in his first season at Anfield and Oxlade-Chamberlain expected to be fully fit during this pre-season, they will be like new signings for the club. Adam Lallana looks adamant to stay at the club and fight for his place in the team.

In the front line, the trio of Mane, Salah and Firmino are fixed, with able support coming from Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri. Also, expect the promising Rhian Brewster to get some game time next season.

Besides a new left-back, they would do well by signing an extra winger, who can deputise for Salah/Mane as per the requirement.

Conclusion

Reading through Liverpool’s slow yet steady progress in terms of building their squad goes to show that trust, clarity in thought and focus on a strong foundation are the most important things in club football.

For this reason, the Reds are quiet in this transfer window and two more backup additions would further enhance their chances of challenging for more trophies next season.

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