Is this how Liverpool will line out at the beginning of the new season?
Published 19/07/2016 | 16:54
Liverpool’s squad might currently be in a serious state of flux, but Jurgen Klopp has conducted enough business over the last few weeks to more than just speculate on the composition of the starting XI that will face Arsenal on August 14.
Klopp inherited an uneven and disjointed squad from his predecessor, though with enough established quality on which to predicate his tenure.
Klopp arrived at Anfield as Brendan Rodgers’ replacement last October and, apart from buying Marko Grujić and then loaning him back to Red Star Belgrade during the January window, was unable to add to his squad until now.
Since the turn of last month, Joel Matip, Loris Karius, Sadio Mane and, most recently, Ragnar Klavan, have all been added to the Reds’ roster. Furthermore, it is thought that they will acquire Newcastle’s Dutch winger Georginio Wijnaldum in the near future.
Liverpool have already offloaded nine players, with the likes of Mario Balotelli, Christian Benteke and Lazar Marković expected to follow suit over the coming days and weeks.
Based on the information at our disposal, it’s quite possible to make an educated guess as to what Klopp’s strongest starting side will be by the beginning of his first full season at the helm.
The German coach tends to deviate between the 4-3-3 and 4-5-1 formations – usually employing the former when attacking and the latter without possession.
Given his propensity for blunders at crosses and set-pieces, Simon Mignolet remains a divisive figure on Merseyside, though has consistently received the public backing of Klopp. With that being said, Karius, provided he impresses during pre-season, could well unseat him as first choice keeper.
The former Southampton full back has proved to be one of Rodgers’ better signings and acquitted himself well last season, though can expect to face stiffer competition for his place from the fit-again Jon Flanagan.
Lovren should be the right-sided centre half going forward, with new boys Matip and Klavan acting as cover and rivals.
With his failed drugs test behind him, the left-footed French international should partner Lovren.
As evidenced by his gaffes in the Europa League final, Moreno is still by no means the finished article, but is certainly not without quality.
The Spaniard is excellent going forward and, provided he hones the defensive aspects of his role, should make for a fine full back. Klopp will find solace in the fact that Flanagan can cover both flanks.
As it stands, the Liverpool boss has a host of central midfielders to pick from – Henderson, the club captain, James Milner, Marko Grujić, Emre Can, Lucas Leiva and Joe Allen, who has been rumoured with a move elsewhere.
Unless Henderson- not world’s greatest distributor- is supplanted as skipper, he’ll likely assume one of the berths. Milner’s versatility ensures that he’ll never be far from Klopp’s thinking.
The 20-year-old Serbian was courted by a raft of top sides before signing on the dotted line for the Reds, and looks to have the nous required to enliven an engine room that, at times, lacked creativity last term.
An absolutely sensational operator who took to Klopp’s methods immediately, the compact Brazilian is among the best number tens around.
Another who came to life almost as soon as Rodgers was dismissed, and played a pivotal role in Liverpool’s run to the Europa League final.
The former Hoffenheim attacker is wonderfully dynamic and seems to power through defences almost at will. Firmino can be equally destructive from wide positions or through the middle.
Last season the erstwhile Louis van Gaal attempted to lure Mane away from Southampton to Old Trafford but failed to do so. Instead, the Senegalese wide man becomes the latest player to depart St Mary’s for Liverpool.
Mane finished last season as the Saint’s top-goal scorer with 15 in total, while consistently impressing with his raw pace and directness. Expect him and Firmino to trade flanks frequently or, indeed, assume central positions, while rotating with Adam Lallana.
In the case of the undoubtedly brilliant Sturridge, there is always a massive caveat. Can the England striker stay healthy? Because, when he is, there are few better in the league. The 26-year-old is an apex finisher, in receipt of searing speed and an intelligent footballer to boot.
If more calamity does befall him, Divock Origi and Danny Ings should be more than adequate deputies.