This summer was much about what happened off the field as on it and in truth, the lack of transfer activity was the main talking point.
The summer transfer window does not close until the end of August so there is plenty of time for something positive to happen. However, with a certain Spanish football club circling around Philippe Coutinho, there is also plenty of time for outgoings.
Having finished last season in fourth place and qualifying for the Champions League, this was going to be a summer of interesting transfer activity around Anfield. The one area of the team which needs to be strengthened is the defence and it didn’t take long for Virgil van Dijk’s name to be linked with the club.
Despite being injured towards the end of last season, the Dutchman is a proven Premier League defender. He has pace, composure and can read the game well, three things the Liverpool defence would benefit from hugely. Perhaps the most important of those is composure and having a player at the back who can take command in defensive situations would be a huge plus going into the new season.
Having conducted many deals with Southampton in recent years, it should have been a deal completed without too many problems. However, things soon started to turn sour when Southampton claimed Liverpool made an illegal approach for the player.
What should have been a good, relatively simple deal for Liverpool to complete suddenly became big news for the wrong reasons. Liverpool were left in a hopeless position following reports they allegedly tapped-up Southampton’s team captain and had no other option but to apologise and withdraw their name from the bidding.
This set the tone for the transfer window.
Liverpool have submitted club record offers of £57 million and £66 million for midfielder Naby Keita but RB Leipzig have been adamant in their decision he is not for sale at any price. The deal seems to be over for this year but remains a possibility for next season.
The van Dijk deal however, still has a chink of light at the end of the tunnel and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a deal pushed through before the transfer window closes. There has been reported interest from Chelsea in the player but the Dutchman has previously stated his desire to join Liverpool and there is no reason for that to change.
A quality defender is a must this season, especially with the group stages of the Champions League a distinct possibility.
An additional midfielder would also help immensely but there appears to be little movement on that front following the end of the Keita pursuit. In fact, attention has turned to keeping hold of Coutinho rather than the names of potential incoming players.
Following the sale of Neymar to PSG, Barcelona are looking to add creative forwards to their squad and Coutinho fits the bill perfectly. This has added to the sense of unease around Anfield in the lead up to the new campaign.
If Coutinho leaves now, who could the Liverpool manager bring in to replace the Brazilian? Options are very limited and even with an extra £100 million to spend, which player could come in and deliver the goods?
One player who has arrived at the club is Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian winger adds more pace and direct running to Liverpool’s attack and the thought of him and Sadio Mane will put fear into Premier League teams this season.
It’s also a good signing in that Mane spent time on the treatment table last season and was sorely missed. With Salah in the squad, Liverpool have a player who will continue to bring pace to the attack, even in the absence of Sane, who was a big loss when injured last season.
The addition of Dominic Solanke from Chelsea is interesting and the forward will play games this season but they are most likely to be in the domestic cup competitions. The other man brought in by Klopp this summer is left-back Andrew Robertson.
Robertson was expected to be given his chance immediately to impress in the first team during preseason and did well in the games he played. However, one man who seems to have saved his Liverpool career this summer is Alberto Moreno.
The Spanish left-back was widely criticised for his performances last season and seemed destined to leave the club. Some solid performances both offensively and defensively this preseason has seen Moreno push his claim for a starting place against Watford in the first game of the Premier League season.
Other players to impress in preseason include Salah, who has scored goals throughout and both Ben Woodburn and Ryan Kent have shown enough promise to be a regular part of the first team squad this season.
Preseason results have generally been good with wins over Tranmere, Crystal Palace, Leicester City, Hertha Berlin, Bayern Munich and Athletic Bilbao.
The preseason games have reinforced much of what we already know about the Liverpool team. Going forward they are excellent and Salah has fitted in nicely giving Liverpool plenty of encouragement for the season ahead in terms of attacking prowess.
However, the goal conceded in the final friendly to Athletic Bilbao highlights the problems which remain defensively. It was poor defending, with Dejan Lovren in-particular facing criticism for his part in the goal. Klopp is sure to continue looking for a central defender until this last second of the transfer window and if the van Dijk deal can be resurrected it would be a massive boast to Liverpool’s starting XI this season.
Perhaps the one negative from preseason, aside from the lack of incoming transfer activity has been the injury to Adam Lallana. The England international is out for three months with a thigh injury and with Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson facing a race to be fit in time for the Premier League opener at Vicarage Road, question marks have been raised over the players workload.
It’s not the first time Klopp’s methods have been blamed for player injury at Liverpool and with the potential of mid-week fixtures in the Champions League this season, Liverpool cannot afford to have players on the treatment table.
All in all, it has been a good preseason for Liverpool, especially in terms of performances and results. The wins over Hertha Berlin and Bayern Munich were very impressive. The transfer market has been the major disappointment so far but with time left before it closes, there is a chance something could happen.
If Liverpool can keep hold of Coutinho and add van Dijk to the squad, it will have been a very good preseason overall.