Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) may need to dig deep to help Jurgen Klopp this summer.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp faces perhaps the most difficult period in his seven-year reign at Anfield as uncertainty clouds the club on and off the pitch. The German’s own future is more cemented after penning a contract to 2025 last year, but with a huge transition project to oversee and his team underperforming in the Premier League, there are issues for the club’s owners Fenway Sports Group to resolve.
FSG have already announced their intention to sell their controlling share in the club amid interest from Qatar and the Gulf in a £3billion takeover. But that is not expected to go through in the coming weeks at least, with the next months a more likely timeline. Meanwhile, Klopp and his side are in desperate need to reinvigoration.
The 55-year-old has registered his gratitude about being able to sign big-money players such as Darwin Nunez, Luis Diaz and Cody Gakpo over the past 12 months. But with Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal all spending hundreds of millions to bridge the gap to Manchester City, Klopp knows he must spend or be left in danger of falling behind.
FSG may be on their way out but while they remain at the helm of Liverpool and in a healthy financial position to spend, according to the recent Deloitte Money League, they must dig deep into their pockets to help Klopp overhaul the squad. Express Sport looks at which areas of the squad needs addressing.
Klopp has made no effort to conceal his wish to sign a midfielder this summer and his several hints about Jude Bellingham suggest the Borussia Dortmund starlet will be his top target. The 19-year-old fits the bill as a Liverpool player, with the ability to glide past opposition players and a tendency to press high after developing his craft in Germany as a box-to-box midfielder.
The £130million price tag would complicate any deal the Reds pursue, but it is a worthy investment given Bellingham’s youth and undeniable talent. Partner him with Matheus Nunes, the Wolves enforcer valued at around £45m, and Liverpool would once again be one of the most talented squads in the Premier League. The double arrival of Bellingham and Nunes would not only add energy and dynamism to a midfield that is severely lacking, but the inevitable boost of having two more players to lighten the load on those in the squad.
If nothing changes in terms of new contracts, Naby Keita, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Arthur are all set to leave the club this summer. The flurry of midfield departures would leave Liverpool with Fabinho, Thiago Alcantara, Jordan Henderson, Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott as the senior options, with Stefan Bajcetic and perhaps Tyler Morton providing squad depth – leaving Klopp exceptionally light in the centre of the park.
Two new defenders in, two out
Klopp was forced to keep Nat Phillips against his will this summer after an injury to Ibrahima Konate in pre-season affected his preparations for the new season. The centre-back was set to seal a permanent switch away before Klopp performed a U-turn, keeping the 25-year-old in his squad.
But Phillips, although an adequate squad member as reflected by his role in the side in the 2020-21 season, will never be a regular at Anfield and that much has become clear by the fact he has made only five appearances in all competitions, totalling 239 minutes of action.
Rhys Wiliams is another player who could leave permanently after spending time on loan with Blackpool in the Championship. Offloading the pair will no doubt raise some funds that could go towards buying at least one new centre-back, with Benfica’s Antonio Silva and Inter Milan defender Milan Skriniar reportedly targets.
Even with the sales of Phillips and Williams, to sign either Silva or another top centre-back would require a significant financial injection from FSG to give Klopp the standard of player he needs.
A backup goalkeeper
As much as Klopp enjoys having Caoimhin Kelleher as a adept backup option for Alisson Becker, the Northern Irishman has admitted he will consider his future in the summer after playing second fiddle at Anfield.
“Listen, I think we’ve obviously only just come back into the middle of the season. So we’ll just see what the season brings and then after that we’ll see, we’ll see what happens after that,” he said. “But I think at the moment, for now, I just have to be focused on trying to be ready for Liverpool.”
Those comments will not come as a surprise to Klopp, who has been happy to give Kelleher playing time in cup competitions whenever he can. But the German knows he will need to search for a suitable reserve goalkeeper – and as Manchester United proved with their loan move for Martin Dubravka or Bayern Munich’s £8m deal for Yann Sommer, it is no longer a cheap signing to make.