Jurgen Klopp has reportedly concluded his spending this summer, but the Liverpool manager’s failure to reinforce in a key area is likely to have handed Manchester City an even greater advantage
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Liverpool opted against splashing the cash on a new midfielder this summer, and they could well pay the price for failing to do next season.
The Reds have recruited one of Europe’s most sought-after strikers in Darwin Nunez, alongside talented teenagers Fabio Carvalho and Calvin Ramsey, in this current window, but that appears to be it. Jurgen Klopp is understood to have shut up shop on the spending front. However, such an approach could prove costly.
Having postponed plans to sign an all-action midfielder to replace Georginio Wijnaldum last summer, the German has adopted the same stance this, once again deciding to defer any acquisition in that area until 12 months’ time. While Liverpool seem content on enter the new campaign with their squad in similar shape to last season – the only change to the starting XI likely to be Nunez for Mane – title rivals Manchester City appear to have only extended their gap atop the Premier League’s summit.
While Liverpool accepted their fate with regards to midfield additions having missed on Aurelien Tchouameni to Real Madrid, City appear far from satisfied with resting on their laurels. Pep Guardiola has strengthened his side while on top, completing a blockbuster deal for Erling Haaland, in addition to snapping up Argentine ace Julian Alvarez. And the Premier League champions aren’t finished just yet.
City remained intent on adding Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips to their ranks before the summer is up while a new left-back also appears on the agenda; Marc Cucurella understood to be the number one target in that department. Liverpool may only have missed out on the Premier League title by a solitary point last season, but expect the margin of difference to be far greater next campaign.
While City have set about upgrading in key areas, Liverpool’s passive approach is likely to leave them lagging behind. Klopp was well aware of the Reds’ need to reinforce in midfield by adding a young and dynamic midfielder in the mould of Tchouameni or Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham heading into the window as the difficulty in disrupting City’s dominance continued last campaign.
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The Reds are blessed with players of expectational ability throughout the pitch, but something remains amiss in midfield. Gary Neville perhaps summed it up perfectly by branding that area of the pitch “subservient” – though in his eyes, the assessment was considered a positive.
“People say that the midfield at Liverpool is maybe their weakness – I think it’s their strength,” he told The Overlap back in late March. “Because the back and the front are so exceptional.
“Those two full-backs are forward all the time, they’re up there, the three up front go up there. That three in midfield, because of their discipline and their subservient nature – Fabinho, Thiago and [Jordan] Henderson – their subservient nature to the rest of the players means they just hold everything together.”
While the aforementioned trio are superb players in their own right, unfortunately for Liverpool, “just holding everything together” isn’t going to be good enough when it comes to the unenviable task of dethroning City. And with the men from Manchester having improved their squad already this summer, the scale of the challenge facing Liverpool has only become even more substantial.
The Reds have been remarkably successful in the transfer market over recent years and the three arrivals this summer look to have continued that trend. However, don’t be surprised if it isn’t enough.
Klopp knew exactly what he needed heading into this window but the club’s failure to deliver has likely left them short. The Reds may well be made to rue their decision not to sign a midfielder.
Liverpool came into the summer intent on closing the gap to City. However, now it appears that gap has now become a chasm.