Three ways Liverpool go from top four to title challengers
This time next week we’ll know whether Liverpool have become champions of Europe for the sixth time. Jurgen Klopp’s men take on Real Madrid who themselves will be hoping to turn back to back Champions League victories into three in a row.
However, it’s in the Premier League where the team will be looking to improve upon next season.
Despite finishing fourth and 25 points behind run-away leaders Manchester City, it’s Liverpool that many people see as City’s nearest challengers in 2018-19.
City may have thrashed the Reds in September but since then Liverpool have been the only team to have blown Pep Guardiola’s men away.
In January it was nine second half minutes that wrestled the game in Liverpool’s favour. The front-three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah fully announced themselves on the big-stage. This was followed up by a 5-1 aggregate victory in the Champions League when heads were really turned.
Nonetheless, it’ll take something huge to usurp this City side in the league. The Ladbrokes News Team takes a look at how Klopp could do it.
Big Name Signing
The loss of Phillipe Coutinho to Barcelona in January hasn’t seemed to affect the side too much.
The growing telepathy between the Mane-Firmino-Salah axis is only going to get better. But it’s the supporting cast that needs the most work.
The penny seemed to have dropped for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain before injury struck and the 2016 England player of the year Adam Lallana has also been crocked for the majority of the season.
It all means that a central attacking player to link between the tireless Jordan Henderson and the ruthless front three is again required.
French playmaker Nabil Fekir looks to be the man at the top of their wanted list.
The Lyon captain has looked irrepressible at times since his comeback from a career-threatening injury that put him out of action for the whole 2015-16 season.
However since his comeback he appears to be excelling, yet again becoming the decisive player in Lyon’s attacking play. Following the departure of Maxime Gonalons in the summer, Fekir became captain which has also seen his influence grow.
It’s thought that following the Champions League final talks may ensue between Fekir and Liverpool in the hope of securing a £60 million deal.
One draw-back that could be labelled at the 24-year-old is his work-rate and if he would fit into the gegen-pressing style at Anfield.
His figures of 18 goals and six assists in 30 games this season may prove otherwise. But If Klopp does look elsewhere it may to his homeland.
The German coach has had an eye on Bayer Leverkusen’s Julian Brandt for a while now. If priced out of a move for Fekir, Klopp could move for the young attacker who is tipped for a bright future.
Quality and quantity
Liverpool’s starting XI has proved to be a match for anyone this season. This can be managed through knock-out football – as seen in the Champions league, but their bench is perhaps where they fall-down.
Despite signing Virgil Van Dijk, Ragnar Klavan is their back-up and it could be argued that isn’t going to win you the league. Dejan Lovren has looked more assured since Van Dijk’s arrival but they’ll neePepsomeone to challenge that first eleven.
Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are solid squad players but reports of interest in Jamaal Lascelles and James Tarkowski prove the club know they need someone with genuine Premier League know-how.
Naby Keita should be a worthy replacement for the seemingly departing Emre Can but they need to add rather than replace. The return of Oxlade-Chamberlain will be a positive so could move for another striker to really change that front-three duopoly.
Get the best out of Naby Keita
There’s an air of excitement mixed with intrigue when Liverpool agreed a deal in principle for RB Leipzig’s Naby Keita. The move confirmed in January will see one of the most sought-after players in Germany ply his trade in England’s top tier next season.
Klopp’s previous Liverpool signings from the Bundesliga have been hit and miss, so getting the best out of Keita will prove vital.
The Guinea international has played as one of two box-to-box men alongside an out and out defensive midfielder for Leipzig.
This could suit playing in a three with Jordan Henderson and James Milner who have the positional discipline to play the system. You could also substitute Milner with Georginio Wijnaldum or Oxlade-Chamberlain for a more attacking dimension.