Premier League preview: Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have eyes on the prize

Naby Keita
Naby Keita

Last season was so nearly the one Liverpool fans had been waiting for.

A glorious run to the Champions League final on their return to the competition ended in defeat to Real Madrid, and highlighted why Jurgen Klopp’s side were not capable of sustaining a title challenge.

They were one of only two teams to beat runaway Premier League winners Manchester City, and achieved the feat twice when pitted against them in a European quarter-final.

But they still finished 25 points adrift of City because of inconsistencies, mainly due to a lack of quality and depth within the squad.

Over the summer Klopp has moved swiftly to address that issue by significantly strengthening the spine of the team.

The capture of Alisson for a world-record fee for a goalkeeper is a major upgrade on Loris Karius, whose two mistakes cost the Reds in the Champions League final, and Simon Mignolet, and should go a long way to solving a problem which has been an issue for several years.

Virgil van Dijk, the world’s most expensive defender, visibly improved the team since joining in January and his influence will grow further.

In midfield, Klopp, who expects the knee injury sustained by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in April to rule him out for the entire season, has doubled up with the acquisitions of Naby Keita from RB Leipzig and Fabinho from Monaco.

“Naby comes from Leipzig, knows the football philosophy, it’s a very similar one,” Klopp said.

“Monaco played a completely different style, so Fabinho probably needs more time to adapt to that.”

Keita will provide the energy and drive lost in Oxlade-Chamberlain’s absence, while his fellow new arrival adds a defensive screen, something Liverpool have not had since the days of Javier Mascherano.

If Adam Lallana can stay fit after a number of niggles last season then he will do the same, while another new signing, winger Xherdan Shaqiri, offers an option out wide to cover for Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mane.

Should Klopp get anywhere near a full campaign out of the injury-plagued Daniel Sturridge, who has looked sharp in pre-season, it would make the side even more potent than they were in the previous campaign and negate the need to strengthen a forward line which scored 90 goals between them.