Can Liverpool be title contenders next season?

Liverpool are having a very strong season indeed. At one end, they are in the semi-finals of the Champions League and are favourites to make it to the final after being drawn against AS Roma in the last 4. On the Premier League front, they are a point behind Manchester United in 2nd despite having played a game more. They were never really in the title race, but are set to improve on their 4th placed finish from last season. They also only need seven points from their remaining four matches to overhaul their tally of 76 points last year.

Despite functioning with a shoestring budget compared to the two Manchester clubs and even Chelsea, Jurgen Klopp has managed to oversee constant improvement at the club since his arrival in 2015. They did spend £70 million on Virgil van Dijk in January, but also sold Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona last summer for over £100 million. Their net spend for the season is only around the £10 million, which is absolutely incredible. They made some shrewd signing, shoring up areas of the pitch that were weaknesses. Andrew Robertson came in from Hull City at left-back, and has been one of their best players of the season. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, signed for £35 million from Arsenal in January, has done a more than decent job in central midfield. The standout though, has been Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian’s £37 million price tag raised more than a few eyebrows last summer, but he has already paid back every pie. With 40 goals in all competitions so far, there is no reason why he can’t be considered one of the candidates for winning the Balon D’or if The Reds manage to win the Champions League.

There is still a long way to go before Liverpool can consider themselves contenders for the Premier League, however. It is a long and taxing journey, and Klopp doesn’t have enough strength in depth at his disposal at the moment. He has done a great job at making the best of what he’s got. The best case in point has been the elevation of 19 year-old right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold to the first team following Joe Gomez’s injury. The youngster has not only played his part, but absolutely excelled so far.

There is still a weakness at centre-back, with none of Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren or Ragnar Klavan providing world-class support to van Dijk. The Reds have had a lot of injury problems in this area, but need to make another big-name signing to really turn heads. Their defence has traditionally been a problem in the last few years. Despite scoring 78 goals in the league, they have also conceded 35, which is at least four more than the other teams in the Champions League places. That is an area that does need to be addressed in the summer, and can’t be compromised. Spurs’ Toby Alderweireld is set to be available, and even though he will cost north of £40 million, will be the perfect fit. The Belgian is good on the ball, can score goals and is an absolute rock defensively.

The second most glaring shortcoming in the squad is in central midfield. Klopp usually employs a 4-3-3 formation, but doesn’t really have a man in the centre of the park who can carry the ball, play incisive through balls and also score goals. A Liverpool legend very obviously springs to mind at the mention of these qualities, and it becomes apparent that the club are yet to truly replace Steven Gerrard. His “successor” Jordan Henderson simply doesn’t possess the consistency to deliver on a weekly basis. Oxlade-Chamberlain has been good so far, but his best position is on the wings. Giorginio Wijnaldum has the potential to carry out these jobs, but has been disappointing with his output so far. Adam Lallana has been out injured all season, while Emre Can is set to leave in the summer. In total, all of the above mentioned players have only scored a combined 14 goals in all competitions. That is simply not good enough, as they are far too dependent on the front three.

This brings us to Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, who have been absolutely unstoppable this season. The trio has single-handedly taken Liverpool to where they are now, scoring 82 out of 121 goals in all competitions. Going forward however, it is important that The Reds don’t stay over-reliant on just these three.

Klopp has made a living of making the most of what’s got, and 3-4 smart signings in defence and midfield are all Liverpool need to kick on to newer heights next season. They are having an absolutely dream campaign which still has some way to go, but they must make sure that the summer doesn’t float away in reminiscence.

Author Bio:

Tony is content writer and a digital marketing expert and has written this article on behalf of Boxofficeevents which is a official dealer of Liverpool Football tickets.

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