English Premiership

Liverpool: Where they need to improve

2017-06-06 11:02
Jurgen Klopp (Getty Images)

Cape Town - As the opening of the transfer window beckons, the managers of the Premier League are already focused on next season.

The transfer window is a period that could make or break the first-half of the season for any club in top flight football.

With the 'top four' seemingly turning into a 'top six' over the past few years, the managers of Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City will all look to improve their squads.

In a series of six articles, Sport24's Tashreeq Vardien takes an in-depth look as to which areas each club need to improve to make their 2017/18 season a success.

Chelsea: Where they need to improve

Tottenham: Where they need to improve 

Man City: Where they need to improve

LIVERPOOL (manager - Jurgen Klopp)

For a club that has just turned 125 years old, Liverpool are desperate to get back in the winner's circle.

The Reds' last cup success came in the 2011/12 season when they defeated Cardiff City 3-2 on penalties in the League Cup final (EFL Cup) at Wembley Stadium.

That victory was achieved under the tutelage of club legend Kenny Dalglish, who took over the managerial post after Liverpool sacked Roy Hodgson just seven months into his stay at Anfield.

Fast forward to 2017 and many believe Jurgen Klopp is the manager to turn Liverpool's fortunes around.

The former Borussia Dortmund manager guided the Merseysiders to two cup finals in the 2015/16 season.

Manchester City defeated Liverpool 3-1 on penalties in the EFL Cup, while in the Europa League final, Sevilla grabbed their third successive title with a 3-1 win over the Anfield side.

WHERE TO SPEND THE MONEY?

Last season, Klopp lured Loris Karius from Mainz 05 to challenge Simon Mignolet for a place in the starting XI. 

The 23-year-old was voted the second best goalkeeper in the German Bundesliga behind Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer, which was enough for Klopp to sign the shot-stopper.

And his arrival did exactly what Klopp would have wanted - as it brought out the best in Mignolet.

The Belgian international came to the Merseysiders' rescue in the second-half of the campaign as he kept five clean sheets in Liverpool's last six matches which enabled them to secure an all important fourth place finish.

However, their UEFA Champions League quest is far from over, as Liverpool have home and away playoff clashes in order to qualify for the group stages, with their opponents yet to be announced.

The decision regarding Liverpool's number one goalkeeper remains a mystery as the competition will only intensify next season between the two glovemen.

Of the top six teams in the Premier League, Liverpool have conceded the fifth most goals (42) out of the 38 league games.

The pleasing statistic in that it is an improvement - the Reds conceded 50 goals in the 2015/16 campaign.

If Liverpool are serious about winning the Premier League or any competition, then Klopp will have to bring in a centre-back and a left-back.

The ongoing drama between Klopp and Mamadou Sakho remains uncertain and a decision is set to be expected before pre-season commences.

The defender's loan spell at Crystal Palace was a success as he played an integral part in helping the Eagles remain in the EPL.

Meanwhile, Liverpool are once again flirting with the idea of knocking on St Mary's Stadium gate - this time around for their admiration of Virgil van Dijk, who has been an impressive figure for Southampton in defence.

Klopp does, however, face stiff competition from big spenders Manchester City and Chelsea, who are also interested in the Dutchman.

If Van Dijk does make the switch from St Mary's to Anfield, he will follow a long list of players that made the same move such as Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren, Sadio Mane, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert.

While having James Milner play at left-back paid off for Klopp in certain games, bringing in a specialist should be a priority.

Seventeen-year-old Ryan Sessegnon and Hull City's Andy Robertson have all been linked with a move to the club. The transfer window only closes on Thursday, August 31 and hopefully a better, more well suited player can be recruited.

Having a solid defence does wonders for a midfield going forward and if Jordan Henderson can remain fit, Liverpool will have a player that has grown into a real confident midfielder.

The club captain was sorely missed in the middle of the park as he orchestrated the tempo of the game. 

Following his foot injury, which was deemed to be a minor knock, Liverpool did not look comfortable in midfield as that intensity in their game diminished.

Signing one or two midfielders won't do any harm to their squad with the amount of games they will be playing next season.

Klopp is said to be a huge admirer of Mohamed Salah and the Egyptian winger is tipped to close a deal with Liverpool.

Lucas Leiva could depart from the Reds as he is expected to talk about his future with the German mentor.

After signing a new contract with the club, Kevin Stewart has the opportunity to get more playing time in the new season as more players ponder their future with the five-time European Champions.

A prime concern for Klopp this past season was the lack of goals his strikers were able to score - Philippe Coutinho was the highest scorer at the club with 14 goals.

Roberto Firmino (12 goals) came to the rescue when he was given the duties of playing up front, while Mane was arguably the best Premier League transfer of the 2016/17 season after netting 13 goals and having five assists. 

Divock Origi netted 11-times, while injury prone Daniel Sturridge scored seven goals.

There have been ongoing rumours surrounding whether Sturridge will remain at Liverpool, as West Ham United are interested in signing the 27-year-old.

Klopp is said to be casting an eye over the availability of Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette and RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner in order to have more strikers to call on.

And when push comes to shove, it is always good to see what is coming through the ranks at the academy, and Ben Woodburn seems to be the kind of spark Liverpool need along the fringes.

Years of yearning for a league title has become an even tougher task to complete with six teams gunning for the grand prize.

Can the Klopp overcome Liverpool's Premier League hoodoo?

Tashreeq Vardien works at Sport24 and is a paper basketball dustbin champion... Follow Tashreeq on Twitter.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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