Last season was an off year for Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp’s side endured a torrid campaign on both domestic and European fronts in the most underwhelming season since the German arrived at Anfield. The hangover from the season prior where the Reds were within touching distance of a historic quadruple had clearly taken its toll. A run of nine games unbeaten in the backend of the league campaign secured European football for this term and was the only thing that saved the squad’s blushes. With last year’s signings failing to hit the ground running and some veterans recently departed, it was crucial that Klopp got his rebuild right this summer. Tasked with revitalizing the midfield and ensuring a better start than last term, the German has done an excellent job. The club currently sit in fourth with five wins, two draws and a loss, trailing league leaders Spurs by three points after their opening eight games. It’s a marked improvement from how things got going last season and the Reds look ready to continue that rich vein of form. There were some bumps along the road with the club’s pursuit of England superstar Jude Bellingham ending in a damp squib and the less said of the Moises Caicedo debacle the better. But for the most part, the 56-year-old boss seems to have got the major decisions spot on when it mattered. However, it’s undeniable that some of Liverpool’s new arrivals are finding their feet quicker than others. Here’s our look at how the Reds’ new signings have fared so far.
Wataru Endo – 5/10
It was more than a little confusing when the Reds went in for Japanese international Wataru Endo earlier this summer. The 30-year-old midfielder signed on a four-year deal for a transfer fee of £16.2 million and many dubbed this a ‘panic buy’ or ‘emergency solution’ after the fiasco of finding a defensive midfielder before the window closed. It was certainly a big departure from the recruitment strategy that had worked so well up until this point, but there was some upside to that. Without a big money move there was not much expectation to deal with and as a seasoned veteran, Endo was unlikely to feel the nerves of arriving at Anfield like some younger alternatives might have. That was on full display in his impromptu debut against Bournemouth, slotting in seamlessly after Alexis MacAllister’s red card threatened to destabilize the balance of the team. Unfortunately though, he has failed to match that level since. A disappointing showing against Newcastle at St James’ Park saw him hauled off before Nunez hit the winner. Since then he has played less than half an hour of Premier League football such is Klopp’s dismay with his performance. There is still time to turn it around but it speaks volumes that the German has so far opted to play MacAllister out of position in his stead.
Ryan Gravenberch – 8/10
Despite missing all of pre-season having been signed at the last minute of the transfer window, the Dutch midfielder has adapted to life at Anfield in double quicktime. The 21-year-old has been used sparingly by Klopp as the German gives him time to adjust but in that handful of performances, the youngster has demonstrated how valuable an asset he could prove to be for the Reds. Despite only playing 300 minutes so far this season, the Dutchman already has a goal and two assists to his name and is flourishing when given the opportunity, particularly in the Europa League. Technically he is superb, with a first touch to die for and the physical strength that makes it a tough task to steal the ball off him. While he has a commanding presence, his creativity is definitely his strongest suit. Given time and the proper support to nurture his talents, there is little doubt that he could become one of the most dangerous threats in the league and even has the potential to become one of the best midfielders in Europe.
Dominik Szoboszlai – 9/10
Szoboszlai has been one of the signings of the summer. Period. The Hungarian has taken to life on Merseyside like a duck to water and has shown maturity well beyond his years. While he only has two goal contributions from his 11 matches played so far this season, what an impressive two they were. A picturesque half volley against Aston Villa was topped with an absolute screamer against Leicester in the League Cup. The technique with which he strikes the ball is sublime and when combined with the ferocious speed it whizzes by with, you can almost guarantee there will be a few more speculative efforts that find the back of the net this term. It’s not just his ability to score goals either. He has an engine on him, superb vision and presence of mind, his control on the ball is excellent, he seems like the full package. Without a doubt one of the Reds’ best players so far this season and it’s easy to forget that he’s only 22-years-old. He’s already making good on his hefty transfer fee of £60 million and should he continue this form, Liverpool will be firmly in the title picture come the backend of the Premier League campaign. Those wanting to place a bet on Liverpool to win a trophy this year can use this handy bet calculator tool when they do.
Alexis MacAllister – 5/10
The Argentinian World Cup winner has failed to live up to his billing thus far. Touted as the bargain of the summer for only £35 million, he has looked like a man feeling the weight of that expectation on his shoulders. He has lost the ball too easily when in possession and has not controlled the midfield like he did with Brighton on the south coast last season. Whether in his favoured position or not, realistically he should be doing better. Granted if Endo starts to hit his stride then it could offer MacAllister a bit more freedom and protection but first thing’s first, he has to get the basic fundamentals right. He clearly has it in his locker; just look at what he managed at the World Cup, and the incredible assist for Nunez’s strike against West Ham shows he can do it for his club too. The problem lies with whether he can make it click sooner rather than later. The 24-year-old will be a mainstay at Anfield for the long term future so they simply have to find a fix, Liverpool’s chances of silverware arguably hand in the balance. He was meant to be part of the solution going forward, but so far he has been part of the problem.