For all the Sky led nonsense, I have nothing but respect for the way that the Reds have gone about their business this summer. We have done everything we needed to do out of the glaring eyes and attention of the media and with a minimum of fuss. Even when we were unable to conclude a deal, as was the case with Lyon captain Nabil Fekir, we walked away swiftly.
I was devastated that we couldn’t sign the versatile, talented Frenchman but if his knee isn’t up to snuff then that’s all there is to it unfortunately. I have my doubts that Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri was lined up as his direct alternative but the fact is that he can play in the number 10 position too. He should cover the wide positions, which was a big issue at the tail end of last season.
After the fallout from Kiev a new goalkeeper was my personal line in the sand and thankfully, we have gone out and got that done. Alisson was the man Klopp wanted and to credit the owners, that’s the man he has got.
With Naby Keita a long ordained purchase and Fabinho blindsiding us all with his shock move from Monaco just two days after Champions League heartache, the club cannot be accused of standing still in this window.
We won’t be selling anyone that we vitally need and as such I am relatively happy with the squad. However, I do feel that another wide player would have made this a perfect window. I get the feeling that being unwilling to finalise the Fekir deal was the moment that Jürgen Klopp decided a number ten wasn’t a priority anymore.
I can kind of support that. When we sold Philippe Coutinho in January, I was raging that no replacement was forthcoming but our even stronger second half of the season suggests that Klopp was right to not replace him. We clearly wanted Fekir but that couldn’t happen for XYZ reason, so we’ve decided to stick with what was absolutely not broken last season. We had no shortage of opportunities in 2017/2018 and the addition of Keita should bring that little more guile.
Unfortunately, the Fekir deal collapsing does throw up some questions of depth. If one of our fabled front three are hurt, there’s little in reserve beyond Shaqiri. Fekir would have been able to tick off a number of positions. I do wish we could have kept Harry Wilson around but the talented Welshman has joined Derby County on loan and I can understand that decision – he needs to play games. However, if something happens to one of our front three the same old issues could arise.
Daniel Sturridge appears to have clung on for another season and he has looked sharp in pre-season. I am a huge fan of the former England international but his body is fundamentally broken. I don’t trust his fitness but if he manages to stay fit, he really could be the difference for us off the bench as he really does have the quality – in spades. But if he encounters the issues we’ve now come to expect, we’re still short of goals up front. However, Rhian Brewster is on his way back from ankle ligament damage and when he is fit, I expect him to make strides towards being on the bench.
But these are close to bucket list wishes now. We have spent a fortune this summer on real quality. There will be outgoings, the likes of Danny Ings, Lazar Markovic and Simon Mignolet may well be gone when the TRANSFER WINDOW SLAMS SHUT on Thursday. But I think our squad is better and we have real depth in central midfield. Given the high energy, maximum octane way that we play, we need as many central midfielders of the required quality that we can get our hands on.
We could probably do with getting another goalkeeper in and we could probably do with another wide player but complaining about the squad we’ve got is churlish. We have spared little expense and the club have backed the manager on all occasions he has asked to be.
The only true question mark I have over this squad is mentality – can they handle the pressure of expectation? If they can, then this is going to be a very special season indeed.
*Odds are subject to change.