Selecting the perfect 2019/20 Liverpool squad
After a tiring but ultimately thrilling season, Liverpool are almost ready to go again.
A number of players will return to Melwood for pre-season training next week, as preparations for another huge campaign begin for Jurgen Klopp and his staff.
It’s been a relatively silent summer on the transfer front so far, barring the addition of exciting centre-back Sepp van den Berg, but a few more incomings will surely arrive in the coming weeks, despite what some are reporting.
Several figures will also depart Liverpool, as Klopp continues to perfect his squad.
The question is: how would an ideal Reds squad look next season? I’ve been tasked with having a look.
Liverpool find themselves in a healthy position in goal, due mainly to the expertise of Alisson since he joined from Roma last summer.
The Brazilian is a among the world’s best in his position and his importance to this Reds team was highlighted in Madrid, when his eight saves against Tottenham helped clinch Champions League glory.
There are questions marks surrounding who Alisson’s deputy will be in 2019/20, but the decision looks likely to rest with Simon Mignolet.
If he wants to leave, the club won’t stop him, but there is a feeling that his impact behind the scenes last season is something that can remain important.
Mignolet will never be a world beater, and his playing style does not fit into Klopp’s ideology, but you won’t find many better second-choice ‘keepers in the Premier League.
Ideal scenario: Alisson, Mignolet, Kelleher
At the back, we have already said goodbye to Alberto Moreno and the same will apply to Nathaniel Clyne. Neither full-back is at the level required to thrive at Liverpool these days.
Reinforcements will be needed at left-back in Moreno’s absence, with Adam Lewis not yet ready to make the step up to the first team.
In an ideal world, someone also capable of playing as a centre-back would be perfect, for example Celtic’s Kieran Tierney, who is wanted by Arsenal.
At right-back, Joe Gomez is capable of filling in for Trent Alexander-Arnold, as is hugely exciting Dutchman Ki-Jana Hoever, while James Milner arguably has one more season of showcasing his versatility at full-back, if there’s a crisis in that area.
Gomez joins Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Van den Berg as a centre-back option, although Lovren could be sold for £25 million.
Many would be happy to see the Croatian moved on, but much like Mignolet, there is no great issue with him staying, as long as he is used sparingly.
If Lovren does leave, a replacement could be needed, depending on the versatility of the left-back brought in.
Ideal scenario: Alexander-Arnold, Hoever, Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Lovren, Van den Berg, Robertson, Tierney
Central midfield is Liverpool’s most well-stocked position, with six or seven strong options for Klopp, as highlighted throughout last season.
Fabinho is the undisputed first choice in the No.6 role, as he continues to mature into one of Europe’s best in that position.
Gini Wijnaldum will remain a key presence, as will revitalised and Champions League-winning captain Jordan Henderson, while Naby Keita should be a greater force than last season.
Milner’s enduring quality is both commendable and priceless, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s return to full fitness is an enormous positive.
In terms of outgoings, Adam Lallana should be moved on, having consistently proved that can’t stay fit or provide enough substance when he does play.
The 31-year-old is a favourite of Klopp’s and is expected to stay, but few supporters would lose sleep if he headed out of the Anfield exit door.
Harry Wilson is another that Liverpool should cash in on, even though an impressive season on loan at Derby County has raised the Welshman’s profile.
Ask yourself this: if he wasn’t on the Reds’ books, would you be keen on signing a 22-year-old who has just excelled in the Championship?
The one key position that needs seeing to is attacking midfield, despite the guile that Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain are both capable of showcasing.
A genuine creative figure is required, in the mould of David Silva or Kevin De Bruyne – Sporting CP’s Bruno Fernandes is the obvious, and standout, candidate.
Rumours continue to link the Portuguese with a move to Anfield – he scored 31 goals in 50 appearances last season – and he would fill the void that failing to sign Nabil Fekir left last summer.
Ideal scenario: Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Keita, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fernandes
Finally, the attack.
Much like the squad as a whole, there is no need to make major reinforcements. A few tweaks here and there are all that is called for.
Led once again by the incomparable Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, it’s a case of having the depth and quality to back them up.
Nicolas Pepe is the name being thrown around on an almost daily basis, with the Lille winger seen as a special talent who would be perfect in Klopp’s system.
Capable of thriving on either flank, and possibly centrally, he is exactly what Liverpool need – whether or not it will happen is up for debate.
Xherdan Shaqiri has almost become a forgotten man, having lost his place as last season progressed, but it would be a shock if the Swiss was moved on.
He is unlikely to ever become a key starter from this point on, but he has the experience and pedigree to fill in and aid rotation and freshness.
Daniel Sturridge is leaving after six-and-a-half years at Liverpool, but Divock Origi has a new contract on the table that he would be foolish not to sign.
The 24-year-old has made himself a genuine Reds hero after his impact in 2018/19 and he should hopefully improve as a player as he matures further.
Someone who could come of age in the next year is Rhian Brewster, who is set to become a regular squad player after a lengthy injury absence.
The teenager will essentially take Sturridge’s place and he has the fearlessness of youth and the quality to be an effective addition.
Ideal scenario: Salah, Mane, Firmino, Pepe, Shaqiri, Origi, Brewster
So there you have it – what do you think?
Let us know in the comments section.