Look out, Man City: Liverpool are on the brink of being a force once more

As a Manchester United fan under the age of 25 I have never known a time in which Liverpool have sustained anything other than sporadic efforts at a return to domestic glory.

Sure, there was that season where they finished second, with Fernando Torres, and yes there was that season when they finished second, with Luis Suarez, but rarely have Liverpool’s chances at domestic glory been more than flashes in a pan.

But as we speak something is growing over on Merseyside (and not just home grown green). Under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool are putting something together which has already delivered many memorable moments but which has all the hallmarks of delivering something truly meaningful very soon.

First off, Liverpool boast one of the best attacks in Europe. Their front three of Salah, Firmino and Mane boast pace, skill, aggression and buckets of tenacity. Most importantly though (take note Mourinho) they are able to function together, supporting each other and bringing the best out of each other – even if Salah’s arrival has someone restricted Mane’s influence.

So much has already been written about ‘the fab three’ that I will not rehash the praise of others. Except to say that there must be few prospects in world football that would instil a greater sense of dread than having to face Liverpool’s front three.

Unbeaten Manchester City conceded four. Had PSG not already set a new record this season, Liverpool would have amassed the most group stage goals in the history of the competition. Salah is in the form of his life.

Firmino is in the form of his life. So yeah, they’re pretty darn good and post-Coutinho, they’re continuing to thrive, so who’s to say they can’t get better?

But we all know that, it’s old news. What has been holding Liverpool back has been the absence of key players in key positions. But unlike Arsenal, Liverpool haven’t simply stared at a problem and waited for it to solve itself, they have taken action.

In the summer, RB Leipzig’s Naby Keita was secured in a £48m deal which will see him arrive at Anfield this summer.

An athletic and dynamic midfielder, Keita is part of a new breed of midfielder capable of bringing an end to opponent’s attacks, but also possessing the ability to stride forward themselves, breaking the opponents lines. Last season Keita completed 83 takeons, more than any other midfielder in Europe’s top 5 leagues.

Looking at the impact Moussa Dembele has for Tottenham, Liverpool may benefit from a similar sort of impetus from their new man, meanwhile Chelsea may be casting a side eyed glance at Tiemoue Bakayoko wondering if they might have signed the wrong man.

Keita has the potential to turn what is a reasonably good Liverpool midfield into a great one.
Players like Gini Wijnaldum, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana are not stars in their own right, but have the ability to play impressive supporting roles in the right team, meanwhile Jordan Henderson and James Milner will be able to able to instil a balance and assuredness to the team.

With Emre Can looking like he is on his way to Juventus, and in truth even if he were to remain, Liverpool would likely need one more midfielder to be absolutely functioning at full capacity, but even with what they have they will pose a considerable test to absolutely any side.

Defensively it is much the same story as with Keita. The club highlighted a deficiency and they moved to address it, in this case bringing in Virgil Van Dijk for a world record £75m.

The footballing community naturally scorned the transfer and took glee in Van Dijk’s inability to prevent his new sides’ defeat to lowly Swansea. Yet, with time to settle Van Dijk looks set to be the physically imposing, technically sound leader that truly great sides require.

With less fanfare but more impact to date, summer signing Andy Robertson has made the left back slot his own and through his tireless, lung busting runs up the left wing, he adds a potent attacking thrust to Liverpool, besides a defensive soundness that Alberto Moreno has never even come close to offering.

Elsewhere Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez are talented youngsters capable of playing important squad, meanwhile Gomez could very well end up superseding Lovren as Van Dijk’s centre back partner.

Although slight question marks remain over Klopp’s midfield and defence, expect his team next season to be more robust than in this. If he can achieve that without detracting from his supernova of attacking excellence, then Liverpool will absolutely be a force to be reckoned with.

The biggest piece in the puzzle left to fill is of course, between the sticks.

Neither Simon Mignolet, nor Loris Karius has impressed sufficiently for anyone, besides those who are bound by contractual obligations, to suggest they have any chance of guiding their sides to major silverware.

Klopp has regularly demonstrated an inability to choose between the lesser of two evils in his flip-flapping between installing the Belgian and then the German as his number 1.

Thankfully though, on the basis of their recent activity, Liverpool fans can have faith that this issue will be address too.

Roma’s Alisson has been particularly heavily linked, although Real Madrid have reportedly entered the race too for the Brazilian. Nonetheless, Liverpool’s owners have shown that they have what it takes to get deals over the line and armed with a bank vault full of cash from the Coutinho deal, they have the funds to back their ambition.

Having finally set about moving Daniel Sturridge on and with Danny Ings and Dominic Solanke entirely incapable of matching the quality of their fellow strike partners, Liverpool could do with an upgrade in their backup striker department, but this does feel like nit picking someone.

Overall, under Klopp Liverpool have constructed a squad which is capable of beating anyone in the country and which in Europe will go head to head once again with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City to determine who will carry the English flag furthest this year. Klopp’s side has an identity, it has intensity and increasingly, it is developing stability.

Liverpool look like they’re building something and for the first time in a long time, it doesn’t look like a flash in the pan. Are one of England’s most famous sides about to return to the top table? I think they just might.


Written by Scott Pope

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