By Dave Davis – @DaveD0106
“They are different. It doesn’t make up for it. Not winning the Premier League this year means it’s an even larger goal for next year. We’ll be set on winning next year. We’re going to have a go, and we’re strong already.” – John W Henry
Liverpool’s principal owner was bullish when asked about Liverpool’s targets for the 2019/20 season. Henry was asked the question before the Madrid final, but it appeared clear the mindset wouldn’t change whatever happened. Jurgen Klopp’s additions made a major difference on the night and this summer will undoubtedly see Liverpool reinforce again.
A Premier League Golden Glove award for Alisson and a record points haul may indicate that little needs doing, but now is not a time for any sentiment or standing still. An average of 99 points has been required to win the Premier a League in the last two seasons, meaning Klopp, Edwards et al must be ruthlessness in their summer actions.
After Saturday night joy and Sunday afternoons celebrations, it’s difficult to believe that players far and wide haven’t been encouraging their agents to speak to those in power at Melwood. Liverpool can’t simply wait for the phone to ring though.
Simon Mignolet has been the consummate professional, but it’s impossible to believe the Belgian international will be happy to continue as backup. Top dollar needs to be obtained, whilst a suitable replacement is drafted in. Similarly – Nathaniel Clyne’s solid performance against United aside – quality full backs must be drafted in as cover for Alexander-Arnold and Robertson.
The departing Alberto Moreno’s time at Anfield would be labelled mixed at best and, despite the real potential of Ki-Jana Hoever and Adam Lewis, that simply won’t be enough for a team chasing the top prizes on all fronts, especially as Clyne is expected to leave.
Dejan Lovren’s proclamations over his own ability aside, the 28-year-old Croat now finds himself fourth choice in the pecking order. That’s unlikely to satisfy a World Cup finalist, but Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez are simply better options for Klopp, whilst a chance of scenery may well suit the injury-plagued defender.
Matthijs de Ligt does appear unlikely, but a quality centre half should be sought if Lovren does indeed depart Anfield. Joel Matip’s revival and Joe Gomez’s potential hasn’t equated to a fully uninterrupted campaign for either, as it stands.
The return of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be a huge boost to the midfield and, with James Milner being rumoured to sign an extension to his current deal, Klopp does have real options in the middle of the park.
That doesn’t mean a status quo will prove enough though. Adam Lallana looks set to move on, in the best interests of all parties, and Marko Grujic may find little point in unpacking his bags in his return from loan in Berlin. Midfield has often been the area where most Reds have felt we could strengthen and now would seem the perfect time to bring that idea to life.
The supporting class to the front three could potentially see an all-changed cast list. Despite the imminent departure of Daniel Sturridge and his recent heroics, Divock Origi will have to decide if he’s happy with a bit-part role at Anfield.
Xherdan Shaqiri says he wants to stay. For all the fanfare around Harry Wilson, the Welsh youngster appears to have little chance of breaking through to the current set-up. Excitement surrounds Rhian Brewster, but a player that could seamlessly cover the absence of either Sadio Mané, Mohamed Salah or Roberto Firmino must be a priority.
Trophies do, understandably, bring a romantic element with them, but it can easily be forgotten that the front three all had their blips this campaign. Games against Manchester United and Everton could have been different with another top-class option. Success does require ruthlessness and whilst the efforts of so many should be heralded on the road to Madrid, there’s no place for sentiment at the top level.