After heartbreaking loss in Europa League finals against Sevilla and a disappointment of missing on Champions League next season question what is next for Liverpool arose. After seeing his team completely collapse in the second half of Wednesday’s 3-1 loss manager Jurgen Klopp said two important sentences in media conference – “This team will be a bit different next season” and “We will do something with transfers.”
After arriving to Anfield Road in November Jurgen Klopp has only had one transfer window and half a season to mold inherited Liverpool players, who aren’t among world-class talent, to his scheme. After leading them to Europa League and Capital One Cup finals Klopp proved that he is a manager who deserves to be given financial means and time to make changes.
Klopp’s is a charismatic character and among world’s best tacticians and motivators – his personality and Liverpool’s glorified history will attract players to Anfield – but without European football next season, it will be very difficult to sign biggest stars in what will be extremely competitive summer transfer after EURO 2016.
It is clear Liverpool needs a true leader in the field, one whose intensity will match the one of his manager. When Stephen Gerrard left, Jordan Henderson received captain’s armband but clearly, he does not fit that role in all of its sense. His replacement James Millner does not too. Liverpool took the 1-0 lead into the halftime against Sevilla but after Kevin Gameiro equalized just 17 seconds into second half, the Reds completely felled apart and there were no one to lift the team back up. Their passing game came to a halt, midfield was overrun and defense was left exposed to Sevilla who you couldn’t count into world-class teams but nevertheless Spaniards shredded Liverpool into pieces in the second half.
It remains to be seen how much funds will Klopp be given and what kind of players they will be able to attract without Champions League next season but there are few pieces in this Liverpool squad, which will be valuable members for the years to come. It’s clear that Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge are not going anywhere. Those three aided possibly by Mario Gotze could instill Klopp’s high-intense and high-pressing style of football.
Goalkeeper is the position mentioned in the calls for a change – Simone Mignolet could be replaced by Marc Andre Ter-Stegen of Barcelona, Fraser Forster from Southampton or recently mentioned young Loris Karius from Mainz or veteran Steve Mandanda from Marseille.
Defense is in dire need of reconstruction as current crop, beside Nathaniel Clyne whose place at right back is secured, cannot play a pressure football, which Klopp insists on. Left-back Alberto Moreno was one of the worst two nights ago in Basel and he could be gone this summer – his replacement is mentioned to be Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell but it’s hard to tell if Liverpool can lure him away from Champions League football with Premier League champions. Centre-back line is already strengthened after Joel Matip of Schalke agreed to move to Anfield this summer as free agent. Matip will join Dejan Lovren and young Joe Gomez who showed promise before serious knee injury. Martin Skrtel, Kolo Toure and suspended Mamadou Sakho probably won’t wear Liverpool’s shirt next season.
Midfield is in relatively good shape with Jordan Henderson and James Milner providing experience along stout box-to-box midfielder Emre Can who proved to be among most important players in Klopp’s plans for the future. Reds will look to add a playmaker who could orchestrate attacks through the middle and who could pull the ranks together in situations like second half in Basel on Wednesday when all halftime plans fell apart in matter of seconds. Two names are mentioned for that role – Poland international Piotr Zielinski from Udinese and Braga midfielder Rafa Silva.
Already mentioned trio Coutinho, Firmino and Sturridge will remain cornerstones of Liverpool’s attack with Mario Gotze of Bayern Munich mentioned as top target this summer. Those four could provide constant pressure on opponents defenses which is something Klopp insists. Young strikers Divock Origi and Danny Ings will probably get more playing time next season while last year’s expensive addition Christian Benteke could be on his way out, as he does not fit Klopp’s tactics at all.
With no Champions League next season, Liverpool unfortunately can definitely forget about rumored big-name signings and Klopp’s former pupils such as Marco Reus, Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Ilkay Gundogan.