Monday 15 July 2019

John Aldridge: 'Jurgen Klopp must strengthen his attack this summer - and he should look at two Spurs stars'

Lucas Moura
Lucas Moura

John Aldridge

JURGEN KLOPP should look to strengthen a couple of key positions in his Liverpool squad this summer and the first should be in the forward line.

It seems crazy to suggest a side that has just won the Champions League and collected 97 points in the Premier League title race last season need to spend big to bolster their attacking options, but I have felt for some time that a top class centre-forward would give this Liverpool team an extra dimension.

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Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane cemented their status as Liverpool legends by playing a role in the Champions League final win against Tottenham in Madrid three weeks ago, but this great team could be enhanced by a striker who would offer them some alternative firepower.

Klopp’s first choice front three are arguably the finest attacking unit in European football when they are on fire, yet there were times when they were off the boil last season and others needed to step in and save the day. Daniel Sturridge was that man as he came up with a brilliant late goal to salvage a point against Chelsea at the start of the season and Divock Origi was an unlikely saviour as he came up with the match-winning contributions when it looked like points were about to slip away.

With Sturridge leaving the club and his huge wages coming off the weekly bill, it opens up the opportunity for Klopp to sign an out-and-out goalscorer who could offer something different if one of the front three is injured or out of form. Antoine Griezmann has been mentioned as a possible target, but he would be a very expensive option as his transfer fee and wages would be extravagant for a player who would expect to start every week.

So I wonder whether Lucas Moura could be prised away from Tottenham, as he had to be a little bemused to be left out of their Champions League final starting line-up after he scored a fantastic hat-trick in the semi-final against Ajax. Moura is a tricky forward who could slot into the team if any of the front three were out and the same could be said of his team-mate Son Heung-min, although I would be surprised if Spurs allowed the South Korean to leave after his outstanding season.

It may be that Klopp and his excellent team of scouts have an ace up their sleeves as they look for an extra striker, with their signings over the last couple of years confirming they tend to get things right when they bring players to Anfield, so I’m confident they will get this one right. Maybe they should look into the possibility of recruiting Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace, who is rumoured to have made it clear he wants to move on to play Champions League football.

Zaha has given Liverpool some real problems in the last couple of years and Klopp’s ability to turn talents of his type into consistent performers has to make him the kind of player who could thrive at Anfield. Transfer fees and wages will be an issue for Liverpool. They won’t pay the kind of crazy money on offer at clubs being fuelled by owners using up spare change from their country’s old business to play fantasy football. So while I said in last week’s Sunday World that a deal to sign Virgil van Dijk’s Dutch central defensive partner Matthijs de Ligt would be great for Liverpool, the money he and his agent appear to be demanding means he will end up elsewhere.

Instead, Klopp needs to focus his defensive reinforcement by signing cover at right-back following the departure of Alberto Moreno, as a longterm injury to Andy Robertson would be a major blow given they don’t have a quality stand-in. The return of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from injury will feel like a new signing in midfield and if he starts performing at the levels he was producing before he picked up his long-term problem, he could be a very useful asset for Liverpool next season.

Despite my musings here, Liverpool are not in need of too many changes this summer after Klopp’s back-up players confirmed they have what it takes to step up to the plate when they came from 3-0 down to beat Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals. Yet the great teams strengthen when they are in a strong position and if Klopp can add a couple of extra components to his magnificent machine, Liverpool will be ready to take on Manchester City in an era when 90 points is the bare minimum required to challenge for the title.

Read John Aldridge every week in The Sunday World.

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