6 things Liverpool still need to sort out before the start of the new season

Dan Vassie
12 months ago

The 2023/24 summer transfer window has been, without doubt, one of the most transformative in the club's recent history, with Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool's recruitment team taking the term "midfield rebuild" to the nth degree.

So far, we've seen Dominik Szobozslai and Alexis Mac Allister join the ranks for a combined £95m, but perhaps the more interesting element of the window has been the outgoings — at least, so far.

Club legends Roberto Firmino and James Milner both departed the club on free transfers, alongside Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita. Fabio Carvalho has joined up with RB Leipzig just one year after signing for the Reds and midfield veterans Jordan Henderson and Fabinho are also off to Saudi Arabia.

To put it simply, Jurgen Klopp's squad has changed dramatically from the final kick of the ball against Southampton back in May, and so much remains up in the air ahead of the new season.

Here are six things Liverpool need to sort out before facing Chelsea on August 13th in their Premier League 2023/24 opener.

Get Saudi deals done

© Proshots - Jordan Henderson

Not a sentence that would've made much sense even a few weeks ago, but making sure Jordan Henderson and Fabinho leave the club as soon as possible is arguably the most important thing Liverpool need to do before the new season starts.

Although the two veterans played the most amount of midfield minutes for the club last year — and will go down as legends in their own right — both of their impending Saudi Arabian exits have been drawn out and distracting.

With less than three weeks until the season officially starts, Liverpool need to ensure the deals are completed in order to get the focus back on the squad and the task at hand, as well as to release extra funds to help facilitate their replacements.

Leaving departures as big as Hendo and Fabinho until this late in the window is far from ideal, but if they were to drag out any longer, the repercussions for Liverpool's new campaign — off the back of a very underwhelming season — could be horrendous.

READ MORE: Fabinho — The rise and decline of Liverpool's quiet superstar

Sign new midfielders

Echoing the sentiment above, Liverpool need to act in the transfer market and they need to do it now.

Jurgen Klopp confidently proclaimed at the end of last season that he wanted all of the squad's new additions to be signed, sealed and delivered come the first day of pre-season.

That day has passed. In fact, many days have passed as Liverpool go into their third fixture against Leicester at the weekend light on numbers and full of uncertainty.

Fans were already clamouring for a third midfield recruit before the Fabinho and Jordan Henderson news broke, but now bringing in just one more name would seem risky.

Having lost six first-team midfielders this summer and only two arriving so far, it could be argued that Liverpool now need at least two more engine room operators, with a specialist defensive midfielder the clear priority.

READ MORE: Romeo Lavia — What Southampton's transition killer would bring to Liverpool

What formation?

Much of Liverpool's rejuvenated form towards the end of last season can be attributed to Jurgen Klopp's system change, but whether this is a long-term plan or not still needs to be confirmed.

Switching to a three-back in possession is the new craze in the Premier League, and it certainly worked for Liverpool, but if they are to stick rather than twist, it's hard to envisage a world where Jurgen Klopp doesn't need a left centre-back as well as new midfielders this season.

Andy Robertson is a phenomenal footballer, but he is no centre half. Having the Scotsman play as the club's left centre-back throughout the season is far from ideal and even if you ignored that, Liverpool clearly need more defensive depth due to the injury records of Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Ibrahima Konate.

This is a fact that the club's recruitment team is obviously aware of. Levi Colwill is the most notable (albeit seemingly unattainable) name on a long list of left-footed defenders Liverpool have been linked with in recent weeks.

However, much like the previous point, time is running out, a new defender has yet to sign, and many questions are still unanswered.

Long-term plan for Trent

© Proshots - Trent Alexander-Arnold

Will Liverpool's preferred formation this season decide which position Trent Alexander-Arnold plays, or is Trent so good that where he performs best decide which formation Jurgen Klopp deploys next season?

As we already know, the homegrown hero can win games on his own, and his attacking output is on another planet, but the defensive side to his game can be somewhat lacking at times.

Therefore, it is for Jurgen Klopp to decide how best to get the maximum out of the 24-year-old's strengths, while minimising his weaknesses.

Whether that means coming into the midfield to alleviate some defensive responsibility, reverting to the staple right-back position and allowing midfielders to cover him, or a combination of the two with the Englishman playing the hybrid role we saw last season, a decision is needed in order for Liverpool's system to be solidified for 2023/24.

Who starts up front?

Having five world-class forwards at your disposal isn't exactly a bad problem to have, but when having to chose who starts and rotate when necessary, it is a problem for Jurgen Klopp nonetheless.

Arguably, the only nailed on forward for Liverpool is Mohamed Salah, and we don't need to discuss any further... there's a reason why he's the Egyptian King.

READ MORE: Who starts in Liverpool's front three against Chelsea in the Premier League opener?

However, that leaves just two spots for Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz, Darwin Nuñez and Cody Gakpo.

Unlike many other decisions, Klopp doesn't have to be definitive on this – different games will suit different players, and with Liverpool fighting for four trophies, there will plenty of minutes.

But for big games, it would obviously be useful for Liverpool to know their strongest front three when everyone is at the peak of their powers.

Appoint the new captain

Undoubtably one of the most important decisions Liverpool bosses need to make between now and August 13th is who will be next to wear the Reds' armband.

With the club's vice-captain James Milner already leaving the club and the skipper Henderson next out the door, Klopp will have to decide who to appoint.

Virgil van Dijk is the odds on favourite to take the captaincy permanently – after already leading the club out on 43 occasions – but the likes of Alisson Becker, Andy Robertson, Salah and Alexander-Arnold are all strong contenders.

Both the captaincy and vice-captaincy are huge roles at Liverpool, and the names above are all equipped to take on the extra responsibility as part of the leadership group.

However, ultimately Jurgen needs to make the decision on his first choice sooner rather than later so the squad is united and prepared going into an important season.

READ MORE: Who should be Liverpool's next captain?

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