LIVERPOOL manager Jurgen Klopp will be aiming to improve on near perfection this summer and it will be no easy task.
Liverpool’s unprecedented 22-point lead at the top of the table confirms that this team will go down in history as one of the best of the Premier League era, even though I still believe there is a lot more to come from them.
They have ridden their luck at times this season and have still managed to get to February dropping just two points, while claiming 100 points from a possible 102 in their last 34 Premier League matches is quite a remarkable achievement.
Even if some of their performances have been a little below par, the consistency of their results has been phenomenal, and the question has to be asked; how could Liverpool now improve?
One big factor in their favour as they look to add to this magnificent squad is that every player has to be excited by the prospect of playing for Liverpool, and that is a position the club has not been in since the late 1980s.
Back then, I was leading the line for the club in an era before foreign superstars started to arrive in English football, with Bruce Grobbelaar and Jan Molby among the few foreign players we had at the club.
Roll the clock forward 30 years and Liverpool would be looking at the overseas market to sign players, with Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund’s English wonder-kid Jadon Sancho mentioned as two possible targets.
First of all, any thought of the brilliant Mbappe coming to Anfield is fantasy, even though the French World Cup winner has spoken highly of Klopp and Liverpool in recent interviews.
Despite inflating the wage bill in recent years – as the likes of Alisson, Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah have signed lucrative contracts – Liverpool are still not paying the kind of monopoly money Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, and even Manchester United, hand out.
If the reports are to be believed, Salah earns around £200,000 a week in a wage set-up that is structured around a big bonus pool for success, with last season’s Champions League win and domestic performances boosting that income.
That’s still a long way short of the £350,000 a week Paul Pogba is allegedly being paid to be a nuisance at Manchester United, or the crazy £550,000-a-week deal Gareth Bale is enjoying at Real Madrid, so there is no chance a player of Mbappe’s market value would take a pay-cut to join Liverpool when he could probably get £600,000 a week at Real Madrid.
In addition, one of the big reasons why this Liverpool team is so successful is the team spirit Klopp has built, and if someone like Mbappe came in with a big ego and on huge wages, the harmony could be upset.
Sancho is an interesting option as he is still only 19, pretty experienced and proven in a strong German league and appears to have all the potential to become a genuine world superstar.
I’d imagine he would be excited by the prospect of joining this Liverpool team, and his brand of high-energy football would appear to be perfectly suited to Klopp’s game plan. But would the club pay an asking price of up to £150million if they didn’t sell one of their big assets to fund the deal?
There was a phone-in on English radio the other day, suggesting Liverpool could consider cashing in on Salah this summer and try to go to the next level with the money they bring in, but I just don’t see the logic in that.
Salah is a 27-year-old superstar who has become a club legend and an integral part to Klopp’s feared juggernaut. This is more incredible when you remember that when he arrived from Roma, many observers suggested he would just be a back-up player.
Liverpool would be mad to sell a player of his quality and take a chance on signing someone who would take time to fit in but, of course, the decision could be taken out of their hands.
Let’s say Sadio Mane knocks on Klopp’s door in May and says he wants a fresh challenge after winning everything he can possibly win with Liverpool.
At that point, there is no point keeping a player who wants to go, even if you are reluctant sellers.
That’s when Liverpool start to look at players like Sancho. Maybe too at a centre forward like RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner, but I suspect Klopp won’t look to make radical changes to his squad unless he has to.
Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne, Adam Lallana and Xherdan Shaqiri are all likely to leave at the end of this season, and if they bring in £60m for those four players it could be spent on one or two quality replacements.
Klopp will be keen to freshen things up by bringing a few new faces into this winning machine he has built.
However, he also has to guard against changing too much, as fixing an engine that is purring so beautifully would not be a wise move.
What Liverpool have done over the last five years is trust Klopp’s judgement on players. And as his magic continues to produce results, the power and influence he wields at Liverpool will only increase.