As Liverpool crashed out of the FA Cup to Championship club Wolverhampton Wanderers, question marks were raised about the size of Jurgen Klopp’s squad. Several television pundits spoke out after the defeat and former Reds defender, Mark Lawrenson compared Liverpool’s squad to their great rivals, Manchester United.
Lawrenson claimed the defeat to Wolves proves his theory that Liverpool have the smallest squad of the top five teams in the Premier League. Manchester United fielded a team in their 4-0 win over Wigan containing players who had a total of 1,240 Premier League appearances, compared to Liverpool’s, who had a combined total of 480. However, while it is easy to say Liverpool need a bigger squad, the problem is finding the right players to come in and improve the team. There is no point in spending limited funds on a group of players who will only add numbers to the squad but not improve the starting XI.
Liverpool do not have European football this season, something which they hope will change next season if they were to qualify for the Champions League. So, is a huge squad of players really required? Wouldn’t Klopp be better off highlighting targets which can actually add something to the team and push them towards the Premier League title the fans crave?
Steven Gerrard spoke about signing ‘cover’ in defence during the January transfer window but again, this is not going to improve the starting XI. Take a look at the signings made by Liverpool in the summer, of which there were six in total. Sadio Mane has been excellent and the forward has improved the team, something which has become clear during his time away at the Africa Cup of Nations. Joel Matip has been good in defence but the other signings have not added consistent quality to the starting XI. There has not been that one ‘star’ signing which fans love, a player who comes in and immediately commands respect in the team, improving it and the players around him.
A few years ago, Liverpool were strongly linked with a move for Alexis Sanchez but the Chilean forward eventually left Barcelona to join Arsenal and has been a great success. This is the type of signing Liverpool need but have failed to deliver. The fact is, the money does not seem to be there to fund a big transfer deal for a top player. The Club did spend over £55 million on Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum in the summer and that’s a lot of money but if that could be spent on one player, someone who would make the rest of the Premier League and top clubs around Europe take notice, it would make such difference.
A player such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund would be ideal. However, with the likes of Real Madrid circling, how are Liverpool going to compete for his signature? More realistic names linked with the club in the January transfer window included Quincy Promes, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Inaki Williams. All of which are good players but are they going to make a huge difference to the Liverpool team in terms of quality? Probably not.
That’s the task facing Klopp. How can he bring in players who are going to improve on what he already has at Anfield?