The fate of Liverpool’s season hangs in the balance, for Barcelona are hell-bent on prising their prized asset, Philippe Coutinho, away.
For the moment, the Reds are hanging on to Coutinho and should the Brazilian maestro stay, Liverpool will be dark horses for the league title.
Considering there isn’t much time left before the transfer window shuts, it would be a tall task to replace the 25-year-old on such short notice and it is imperative that he stays at Anfield for another season at least.
The Reds have spent well this summer, not splurging like Manchester City and United, perhaps, but well enough and all their additions bring something to an already decent squad.
Mohamed Salah gives them an extra dimension in attack and after an excellent pre-season, is ready to silence the critics who said he can’t play in English football once and for all. Andy Robertson may not get fans’ pulses racing, but will be solid in defence, something Liverpool sorely need. Dominic Solanke is a good back up striker, especially if you factor in the additional Champions League games they will be playing.
They still need a centre-back, perhaps that is why the Virgil van Djik saga is dragging on and on, but even if the Dutchman doesn’t move to Anfield, Jurgen Klopp has pretty good squad.
For their midfield is packed as is their attack and Klopp is likely to have a few selection dilemmas before every game, which only reinforces the fact that should they be able to manage their European commitments without a hitch, the league is theirs for the taking.
Mohamed Salah (£35 million from Roma)
Andy Robertson (£8 million from Hull City)
Dominic Solanke (free* transfer from Chelsea)
*tribunal to decide exact compensation to be paid
Lucas Leiva (£3.5 million to SS Lazio)
Kevin Stewart (£2.5 million to Hull City)
Andre Wisdom (£1.3 million to Derby)
X-Factor: Sadio Mane
Mane alongside summer signing Mohamed Sarah and Robert Firmino, with Coutinho playing behind the jet-heeled forwards.
You would be hard pressed to find a better attacking unit and there is plenty of potential in them, considering they are yet to hit their peak.
However, it is the Senegalese sensation that is perhaps the most effective of the lot. His physicality is an underrated trait, coupled with the obvious ones like pace and dribbling. Perhaps most importantly, the fact that his finishing is top-notch is the reason Reds fans are so excited.
The 25-year-old made the 2016-17 PFA Team of the Year despite missing a major chunk of the campaign with injury, imagine what he would do if he played 30+ games?
Achilles Heel: Defence
Loris Karius was signed in 2016 to replace the bungling Simon Mignolet in front of goal but fast forward a year and their places have been effectively swapped.
Liverpool just can’t sign a good keeper, can they?
Mignolet has improved since Karius’ arrival. Yes, but he is nowhere near the level of say a Thibaut Courtois or even Peter Cech. The Belgian makes blunders as often as he makes world-class saves, much to the consternation of the Kop.
Joel Matip is a solid centre-back but the problem lies with his current partner, Dejan Lovren. The most expensive Liverpool defender of all time continues to struggle and is arguably the weakest link in their back line.
Hopes are high from Andy Robertson, but the former Hull City left-back will take some time to get used to playing for a top club like Liverpool.
Nathaniel Clyne, on the opposite flank, is another player from the Southampton conveyor belt who has struggled to live up to expectations. Too early to write him off of course, but more is expected from the powerful right-back if Liverpool are to be taken as serious title contenders.
Star Man: Jurgen Klopp
The man is a rockstar and a breath of fresh air compared to other surly managers out there.
His gegenpressing style of football may have its detractors but for neutrals, it is mighty fun to watch. Of course, if you are on the receiving end of it, it can get annoying but it is result oriented, no doubt about that.
However, the fact that the German tactician does not seem to have a ‘Plan B’ aka when teams shut up shop, is a little worrying for not every game will be as open as he would like. An added disadvantage is that injuries seem to pile up in his high-pressing system, make it a double-edged sword.
How he manages to tweak his system from game-to-game will be the making of him in his second full season, for the Fenway Sports Group will demand concrete results this time round.
Likely Starting XI
Goalkeeper: Simon Mignolet
Defence: Andy Robertson, Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Nathaniel Clyne
Midfield: Adam Lallana, Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho (Currently injured)
Attack: Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah