By Dave Davis – @DaveD0106
“If Ox can stay fit – new player for us. Rhian the same. He is a really big talent. We’re really looking forward to seeing him in training and all that stuff. It will be an important role for us, we planned an important role for him. So, new player.
“Like Joe Gomez is pretty much a new player. Adam Lallana, new player. After a lot of problems last year, if these boys can really stay fit then that’s completely different to last year for the team because there is real quality.” – Jurgen Klopp
Much to the chagrin of many Reds, it seems new signings may well not be on the agenda for the manager. The stats indicate that it shouldn’t be a huge surprise.
The notable departures from Anfield this summer of Daniel Sturridge and Alberto Moreno were nothing if unsurprising. The contributions of the pair last season – the striker manager 818 minutes while the Spaniard played just 344 – were limited at best and the Englishman’s return of four goals were far less memorable than any social media campaign around a Pomeranian.
The duo’s absence is unlikely to be overly felt, remembered or even used as a tool with which to criticise Klopp. That’s not a straightforward as saying everything is now perfect in the full-back and attacking positions, though.
Rhian Brewster’s return has been billed for some time and, for a player very few fans had seen in the flesh until his Tranmere double, the former Chelsea youngster appears to already be a natural part of the first team setup.
The hero of Madrid, Divock Origi, has signed a new five-year deal and it’s hard to envisage anything but an increase on his 763 minutes of playing time last season.
Xherdan Shaqiri’s Liverpool career started well, shone over Christmas and faded badly in the new year. The Swiss attacker would still expect to see an increase though on the 1,413 minutes accumulated last year. Sturridge’s absence and additional games could be more than covered.
In the left-back department it appears Klopp may well turn to one of his ‘new signings’ and existing options to cover the minimal impact Moreno’s departure will have. Most Kopites will be keen to see whether Yasser Larouci and Adam Lewis will be given a chance to stake a claim, although it’s difficult to see Klopp calling upon them as Robertson’s understudy.
The more likely outcome is Joe Gomez, who managed only 1,644 minutes last season after a long-term injury, will deputise, or James Milner will fill in. Of all the current Melwood prospects, Ki-Jana Hoever appears likely to be given some opportunity to allow Trent Alexander-Arnold a rest occasionally.
Klopp name-checked two options in the middle of the park and it’s understandable whilst there’s two schools of thinking here. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain truly can be viewed as an addition to the first team set-up having fully recovered from his terrible injury that restricted him to just 105 minutes.
In the case of Adam Lallana and his 568 minutes, it’s difficult to say the same. After an abysmal injury record, many believed the former Southampton man would depart, although with 12 months left on his deal it maybe slightly delayed. Indeed, many believed Klopp’s comments about staying fit applied specifically to him.
Liverpool’s existing regulars maybe being overlooked by some in regards to the new signings. If the likes of Fabinho, Henderson or Keita don’t see more action in midfield then it’s likely to be down to injuries, as the manger referenced.
Joel Matip more than impressed in his game time at the end of last season too. That’s before discussion even turns towards the likes of Harry Wilson, Ryan Kent, Curtis Jones et al, who look like being given a chance to impress during pre-season. A quality debate may well rage, but the sheer number of options available can’t be argued.
There may well be further departures from Anfield, which in turn may affect business the other way. It’s understandable why some are advocating for strengthening further in specific areas, yet it’s not always that simple.
Will the Champions of Europe be able to get the players they want without paying a premium, and will those that come in be willing to do so on the basis they may be squad options? There may not be any grand unveilings at Melwood this summer, but when you look at last season’s minutes, it may not be hugely surprising.