Liverpool have wasted little time picking up the pieces from their devastating Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid in Kiev, by confirming their first signing of the summer in the form of Brazil international Fabinho from Monaco in a deal which could be worth up to €50m.
The 24-year-old will be joined by Naby Keita from RB Leipzig, who last summer agreed to move to Anfield at the end of the season for £48m. Speculation is mounting that the duo will be joined by France international Nabil Fekir, with reports in France claiming a £62m deal to sign the playmaker to replace Philippe Coutinho has been agreed.
Should Fekir’s arrival be completed as expected, Liverpool will have made a quick-fire start to a shortened summer transfer window and made a jump start on their rivals in a bid to improve on last season. But how will Jurgen Klopp’s new charges fit into his existing side and who will make way for the incoming trio?
Such has been the unrelenting criticism of Loris Karius since his horror show on Saturday, it appears unforeseeable that he will begin next season as the Liverpool No.1.
Simon Mignolet meanwhile has not played since January and looks unlikely to be recalled to the first team. Roma’s Alisson Becker has been heavily linked with a move to Merseyside either side of the 3-1 loss to Real though with no deal in place yet, Karius remains the man in possession.
With Virgil van Dijk having arrived for a world record £75m, Dejan Lovren improving significantly, Trent Alexander-Arnold enjoying a fine breakthrough campaign and Andrew Robertson emerging as a fans favourite, there will be few changes to an increasingly reliable back-four.
But with Ragnar Klavan and Alberto Moreno among those in support, Klopp may be tempted to add some depth behind his first choice defence. Nathaniel Clyne and Joel Matip’s return to full match sharpness will be key
It is in the middle of the park where the most changes are anticipated in Liverpool’s starting line-up. Against Real Madrid, the Reds surrendered control and possession to the likes of Toni Kroos and Luka Modric and Klopp is looking to amend that alarming shortcoming.
Fabinho is likely to be deployed at the base of the midfield as Liverpool belatedly add a combative, defensive midfielder to their ranks. Keita will play just ahead, mirroring the role he has performed for Leipzig, and will provide balance and reliability behind the side’s attacking quartet. Finally, Fekir will provide the creative spark which Liverpool have craved since the January sale of Coutinho to Barcelona.
Though Liverpool have been free-scoring since the Brazilian took his leave, they often struggle when they’re limited for space in the attacking third and Fekir could make the difference in tight games.
The front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah remains among the most fearsome in Europe, and will no doubt start next season as first choice. But whether Klopp feels the need to buy necessary back-up remains to be seen. Salah’s world class ability means it is only natural he would leave a void in the Liverpool side once he was taken off in the first half against Real.
And asking the Egypt international to match his displays from this season – following a World Cup which he will inevitably start injured – is unrealistic. Finding a possible deputy who is happy playing second fiddle on the bench is a tough ask and it might require a dramatic improvement from Adam Lallana to solve this dilemma.
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