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Continuity would appear to be Liverpool’s greatest strength. Jurgen Klopp has an ability to tweak his first-choice team, upgrading and freshening up various parts of it, without the machine itself ever seeming to take a hit. If that isn’t enough to make them favorites to win the title, that’s only because of who they are facing rather than what Liverpool are.
The sale of Sadio Mane, the club’s first major departure since Philippe Coutinho left for Barcelona, should be interpreted as a strength. Liverpool have signed Darwin Nunez and have secured Mo Salah’s future too. That leaves one position in the team for Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz, Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho to share. That’s plenty.
The financial sense in giving Salah such a handsome deal at this age can only be judged in hindsight, but it does create a strong sense of purpose around Liverpool. If these really are going to be the last few years of the Salah era at Anfield, with all the riches and trinkets it has delivered, it’s time to squeeze every drop out of its majesty.
That can only mean another title assault. While the Premier League’s top four race looks incredibly tight with Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal all either enjoying new owners, new managers or new marquee signings, Liverpool have earned the right to believe that they sit on their own specific level: better than the rest, a smidgen below the best.
There are so very few. At a push, you might say that the departure of Mane breaks up one of the most devastating combinations in Premier League history. He and Salah provided 109 goals and 44 assists between them in league football alone over the past three seasons. For all the whispers about the complexities of their working relationship, Mane and Salah were a Premier League tour de force. Breaking that up, even with the added recruits, will always contain an element of risk. We suspect that Liverpool will cope just fine.
Elsewhere, the age profile of the midfield will at some point require some work. Seven different players appeared in five or more league games in central midfield for Liverpool last season – three of them (Henderson, Milner, Thiago) are aged over 30 and all but one are 27 or over. That really isn’t an issue now – we’re reaching for potential weaknesses in a squad that hardly has any – but it will require a similar strategy to the one used on the front three of Firmino, Mane and Salah.
Barring that, the only things that can seriously derail Liverpool this season are serious injuries to key players (but then the same is true of most clubs). For all the depth in the squad, Trent Alexander-Arnold’s energy on the right, Fabinho’s brilliance holding the fort in midfield and Virgil van Dijk’s defensive leadership are all crucial to Liverpool’s long unbeaten runs. Klopp is not the only manager who will watch the World Cup through his fingers.
Nunez rather came out of nowhere, but made far more sense when it became clear that Sadio Mane fancied going to Bayern Munich as the final big move of his career. Nunez joins Carvalho as a new signing (albeit the latter is one for the future) and leaves Liverpool with a stacked set of attacking options.
Had you been asked in November 2021, a midfielder would have been high on Liverpool’s list. But then Thiago got himself fit for a consistent period and played a pivotal role in Liverpool’s form both domestically and in Europe. That allows them to rest a while before presumably pushing for Jude Bellingham next summer, a move that makes so much sense it hurts.
The only other summer signing was Aberdeen right-back Calvin Ramsay, who fits the Liverpool recruitment strategy perfectly because he is a) young, b) highly-rated, c) didn’t cost them that much and d) will be happy being the understudy to a brilliant player in his position. They know what they’re doing, you know.
Neither solid rock nor concrete. Unlike Mo Salah, Liverpool were able to move quickly to extend Klopp’s contract before it had less than two years left before its expiration and led to any unhelpful whispers about him taking a sabbatical. Klopp’s deal now extends to the summer of 2026, when he will be almost 60 and may well choose to take a break.
But until then, he remains. It is hard to envisage many managers of super-clubs who could feasibly finish eighth next season and still retain the trust of match-going supporters, but Klopp is certainly one. That’s not going to happen, but it’s a measure of his sterling work that Liverpool are now normalized as title challengers and Champions League heavyweights.
It’s boring, but it’s boring because it’s obvious. They’ll fall just short again. 2nd
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