By James Miller – @JamesMillernews
Following on from becoming newly-crowned champions of Europe, the focus for Jürgen Klopp and his staff now has to be directed at developing the squad ready for the 2019/20 campaign.
Initially, it was thought that this summer may have been a quiet one, with the club coy on the potential of arrivals. The German has often suggested he is content with the options currently available at the club. However, comments made by chairman John Henry have thrown thoughts of a relaxed summer for Klopp in the air.
The American told Sky Sports’ Kaveh Solhekol in an exclusive interview that there are clear intentions to invest, in a hope to win the Premier League next season.
Since the completion of the season – the conclusion being the club winning a sixth European Cup in the club’s history – the transfer speculation has risen dramatically. One name in particular who has been heavily linked with the club in the past week is Lille’s Nicolas Pépé.
It has been suggested that Liverpool are looking to test the French club’s resolve, with the club having already made contact for the Ivorian international, according to Mohamed Bouhafsi.
Early indications are that Pépé would cost a minimum of £59m, a fee that would see him become the third highest transfer in the club’s history behind Alisson Becker and Virgil van Dijk.
What will Liverpool be getting if he signs?
Pépé usually operates on the right side of either midfield or a forward line, using pace to influence play in an attacking sense. He likes to release the ball short at times and move the ball. Although, given the opportunity, Pépé is positive in harassing defenders with his dribbling ability.
One of his best assets is his ability to find a pass, especially a through ball. His vision is of a very high standard, backed up by a respectable return of 11 assists for Lille last season as they finished second.
He also managed to deliver on a personal level too adding a further 22 goals individually in addition to his assists. His ability in front of goal is really beneficial for a player who doesn’t strictly operate as a striker, with his long-range technique also impressive.
A slight worry regarding Pépé would be his tendency to drift offside on several occasions, something that will have to be improved you’d imagine. Another major downfall is the defensive insurance he offers which isn’t great at present. He is a more natural offensive player with a lack of defensive discipline.
However, it has been seen with Klopp that players learn traits such as that over time, examples would be players like Mohamed Salah who has improved dramatically in a sense of helping the defence.
There is no doubt that Pépé is an outstanding talent and he can certainly improve the squad without question. In order to accommodate him in his preferred area of the field on the right, you would think that it may require perhaps a 4-2-3-1 formation with Salah moving through the middle and Roberto Firmino in behind.
Obviously, at this stage speculation shouldn’t be considered concrete, but the prospect of Pépé arriving on Merseyside does sound promising. A deal is far from concluded, with Bayern Munich also deemed as a possible destination, it will certainly be one to look out for.