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Fabinho replacement signed, new captain named – What Liverpool need to do in next 19 days



'Spectacular' Liverpool target will now sign for AC Milan with medical booked next week

In more ways than one, the last 10 days of Liverpool’s pre-season schedule have significantly altered their preparations for the forthcoming campaign.

Having embarked on a week-and-a-half-long stay in Germany’s Black Forest region earlier this month with Fabinho and captain Jordan Henderson still in their ranks, there is every chance the duo will have sealed their respective moves away from Anfield by the time Liverpool return to Merseyside later this week.

The Saudi Pro League assault on the Reds’ engine room began on the eve of the squad’s venture to Germany, with an offer in the region of £40m from Al Ittihad significantly testing Liverpool’s resolve and resulting in Jurgen Klopp deciding to leave the 29-year-old Brazilian on home soil to determine his future.

In Henderson’s case, however, the 33-year-old was named as part of the traveling contingent and was involved in the early days of camp in Donaueschingen. That was, of course, before he travelled back to the United Kingdom on Wednesday night shortly after the Reds agreed on an initial £12m deal with Steven Gerrard’s Al Ettifaq.

“As long as things are not finally decided, we don’t have to talk about it. There will be a moment where we probably have to talk about it, but it’s not now,” said Klopp, speaking to the ECHO and other publications after the 4-2 victory over Karlsruher SC. “In the end, all of these decisions are made by me. And because I respect the players a lot, it’s usually (with their) consent. It was in this case, and it is all fine.”

Fast forward five days and it is understood that Henderson completed a medical in Manchester on Friday, with Liverpool now waiting for the player and Al Ettifaq to finalize the contracts. Meanwhile, his peer’s move to the Gulf state is also believed to be edging closer, with the exit of Fabinho set to be confirmed shortly.

It now means after the swift start to the summer transfer window that saw the Reds fend off competition from a whole host of clubs to sign Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai from Brighton & Hove Albion and RB Leipzig respectively, they now face their second midfield reconstruction of the summer.

“Still three-and-a-half weeks until the first game of the season. a few things have to happen before then, definitely, transfer market-wise as well,” said Klopp speaking on the We Are Liverpool Podcast on Saturday. “That is clear now. And it will happen. New players have to come in. We will have a good team.”

This is therefore a need for an immediate solution before Liverpool line up against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on August 13. Crystal Palace’s Cheick Doucoure is considered an ideal candidate to succeed Fabinho while Fiorentina’s Sofyan Amrabat and Southampton’s Romeo Lavia are also being eyed.

But whatever happens in the next 20 days before Liverpool renews their feud with the Londoners, Reds boss Klopp must settle on a ready-made replacement for the long-serving Fabinho, who established himself as one of Europe’s best in the holding midfield role during his five seasons at Anfield.

Due to the consequences of his and Henderson’s impending moves to Saudi Arabia, Trent Alexander-Arnold was tasked with anchoring the midfield during the first pre-season outing of the summer on Wednesday. Although it would be foolish to rule out the No.66 being assigned a similar against Chelsea, Klopp’s comments suggest that sporting director Jorg Schmadtke will be made to earn his corn this week as he scours the market for appropriate alternatives.

Though, Alexander-Arnold could find himself as one of the leading candidates to succeed Henderson and become the new Liverpool captain this summer, should the formalities of his England colleague’s transfer to Al Ettifaq pass without any hitches in the week ahead. After being promoted into Liverpool’s expanded five-man leadership group two years ago, the right-back stands out alongside Virgil van Dijk as the ideal long-term heir.

As captain of the Netherlands and the third ‘captain’ during the absence of James Milner and Henderson in recent years, Van Dijk will, too, fancy his chances of inheriting the armband on a full-time basis. However, having just turned 32 and with just two years left on his current Reds deal, the opportunity to blood Alexander-Arnold for the long term feels like too inviting of an opportunity to pass up on this summer.

At the other end of the spectrum, Ben Doak and Bobby Clark will encounter a telling few weeks for the next steps of their novice careers. Doak, 17, and Clark, 18, traveled with the rest of Liverpool’s senior squad to Germany last week and both impressed during the victory over Karlsruher.

Given their talents and subsequent exposure to the first team in recent times, both teenagers are likely to attract an abundance of interest from clubs across the English Football League looking to offer a temporary residence with regular football on offer.

As has been the case in recent years, Klopp will have assessed both players’ capabilities over the last week-and-a-half in Germany and consequently weigh up the pros and cons of any concrete offers on the table when he returns to the AXA Training Centre later this week.

As of last week, the ECHO learned that there had been no discussions with Doak’s camp over a potential loan stint away from the club as he continues to stake his claim for a role as Liverpool’s secret weapon across both the Premier League and Europa League.

Clark, meanwhile, was said to have attracted interest from Championship outfit Preston North End back in January. And having just signed Layton Stewart and Calvin Ramsay this summer, the Deepdale outfit is one the Reds enjoy a blossoming relationship with.

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