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‘Title challengers or fairly average’ – what Gary Lineker, Roy Keane, Gary Neville and other pundits are saying about Liverpool

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'Title challengers or fairly average' - what Gary Lineker, Roy Keane, Gary Neville and other pundits are saying about Liverpool

Ex-players and pundits used to rave about Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool team, do they think his updated squad can compete at the very top?

Over the course of three years, Jurgen Klopp won every major title available as the manager of Liverpool.

This was the culmination of a period of groundwork in his formative years, though a stagnant 2022/23 campaign has forced the manager to create a ‘reloaded’ Liverpool.

Experienced trophy-winners of old such as Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and James Milner have been replaced with new blood. Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai have seamlessly integrated into a new-look midfield, which still awaits the full impact of fellow summer signings Wataru Endo and Ryan Gravenberch.

They were not the only names linked with Liverpool, as both Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia opted to sign for Chelsea. Those individual sagas spread doubts among pundits as they assessed the Reds’ likelihood of fighting for first place once again.

Jamie Carragher – “Liverpool will be in the top four”

“I think Liverpool will be in the top four,” the former Reds No.23 told FourFourTwo in July, as confident as ever. “They signed Alexis Mac Allister early on. They were awful last season and were still in with a shout of the top four with two or three games to go, which I couldn’t believe, considering how poor they’d been in the middle of the season.

“I certainly think they can be at the top of the pack chasing Manchester City.”

The 45-year-old has also commented on a number of deals his former club have been involved with recently. He was to first to lay into the club as they failed to sign Lavia with a third rejected offer, labelling it as ’embarassing’ on social media, and most recently told talkSPORT that Anfield chiefs have dealt with the Mohamed Salah situation perfectly.

Carragher admitted: “The feeling among most Liverpool supporters is that we’ve maybe got him for one more season, rather let him go now at the start of a new season with no chance of bringing someone else in right away.

“I think for all parties it almost feels right next summer where Liverpool would get a substantial transfer fee, Liverpool would have Salah this season and give them a great opportunity of success, and then Liverpool have 12 months to think of someone – if there is anyone out there – who can replace him.”

Gary Neville – “This is very un-Liverpool-like”

Interviewed alongside regular Sky Sports partner Carragher, Neville unsurprisingly ranked his former club higher than either Liverpool or Arsenal as nearest challengers to City.

“Under the owners the club [Manchester United] has had, I think they’ll probably still finish in the top four, but I don’t think they’ll improve on it,” he said. “If they got new owners and had £250m or £300m to spend, they’ve got a chance of going up to second. I do think they’ve got a chance of taking that spot off Arsenal – that’s up for grabs – but they’d have to spend well.”

The former defender also questioned the transfer strategy of his old rivals – not so much the reinforcements, but the order in which the business was conducted.

Speaking on Monday Night Football at a point when Caicedo and Lavia’s futures were uncertain, Neville stated: “If Chelsea buy both of those players, there will be massive questions. This is very un-Liverpool-like.

“They’ve let Milner, Henderson, and Fabinho go before they’ve got someone in, which what I thought Liverpool were quite smart at is bringing the people in before they expose themselves.”

Roy Keane – “Fairly average”

Perhaps with the benefit of hindsight the ex-Manchester United midfielder may reassess his thoughts on the Reds, who have taken 10 points from a possible 12 so far.

But speaking directly after the opening weekend draw away at Stamford Bridge, Keane branded Klopp’s new-look team as ‘fairly average’.

This follows on from his end-of-season comments almost two months before the end of the 2022/23 campaign, in which he was insistent that this modern Reds side were not one of the all-time greats.

“No. Forget about it. That’s not enough to be classed as a great team over the years.

“No. I don’t know what you’re staring at,” he told Carragher and Neville. “That’s not enough prizes. They’ve been competing, they’ve been brilliant to watch but I wouldn’t put that down as a great team.”

Ian Wright ‘- ‘Not good enough’

Arsenal legend Ian Wright questioned Liverpool’s summer transfer business, saying the club did not go far enough in the market after missing out on a centre-back.

He told Premier League Productions: “If you are going to play with that inverted full-back, then I am not sure Joe Gomez or Joel Matip is the guy.

“When you look at Liverpool down the years since, they have brought a proper defender. Yes, they paid for Virgil van Dijk and [Ibrahima] Konate. Andy Robertson. [Kostas] Tsimikas as well.

“Four players they have paid for, it’s not good enough for a club of that stature and what they are trying to do.

“I feel that Liverpool should have got a real top-end defender – someone like Josko Gvardiol. He was out there. You should try to go in.”

Gary Lineker – ‘Close to title’

Gary Lineker hasa backed Liverpool to challenge for the Premier League title this season, tipping Trent Alexander-Arnold to be a key player in their new side.

Lineker has made no secret of his admiration for Alexander-Arnold and is now convinced Liverpool can be a force again.

“I’ve got them in Champions League qualification this season. I think they could push quite close to the title,” he said.

“Obviously, they’ve lost a few players but the interesting thing is the emergence of Trent Alexander-Arnold in that converted midfield position. I’ve been crying out for him to play in midfield for years as I feel he is the best passer of the ball in the English game.”

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