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Liverpool state of play – transfers, exits, injuries and issues ahead of season

After two of the greatest campaigns in Liverpool’s illustrious history, last season was a hugely underwhelming one for the club.

The Reds finished trophyless and despite a late run of victories securing an admirable third-placed finish, they fell well short of the standards both domestically and in Europe they had set themselves in previous campaigns.

The defensive injuries and instabilities were a huge cause of the regression but the early weeks of the season – prior to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez being ruled out – saw the side ship three goals at home to Leeds and then seven at Aston Villa.

Ibrahima Konate has been signed this summer but there are concerns that the squad has not been rejuvenated sufficiently in recent years as club funding has failed to match key domestic rivals.

Here is how Liverpool are shaping up ahead of the new season getting underway next month.

Ibrahima Konate , Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Nathaniel Phillips of Liverpool training at their Austria pre-season camp

Transfers

The arrival of Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig is the only confirmed deal for the Reds so far in the window, but it is a significant one.

The France Under-21 international has arrived with a hefty price tag of £36million is one of the highest rated young defenders in European football.

His price and status should elevate him to become a regular starter in Jurgen Klopp’s defence, ideally to play regularly alongside a fully fit van Dijk.

Harvey Elliott will be the player who ‘feels like a new signing’ after starring for Blackburn in the Championship last time out and could add some much-needed creativity from a slightly deeper position.

Also returning from a loan spell is Takumi Minamino – signed from Red Bull Salzburg in January 2020 – and who spent the second half of last season on loan at Southampton but could play a squad role at Anfield this time round.

The club are still on the lookout for a new central midfielder and are still arguably short in the back-up positions – especially in the goalkeeper and full-back areas.

Which players should Liverpool aim to sign this summer? Comment below

Georginio Wijnaldum has left Liverpool to join Paris Saint-Germain
Georginio Wijnaldum has left Liverpool to join Paris Saint-Germain

Exits

Liverpool are so keen to sign a new central midfielder due to the exit of Georginio Wijnaldum, who has joined Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent.

The Dutch international clocked up over 200 appearances for the Reds across five seasons and was a fundamental part of their successes in recent years.

Wijnaldum is the only senior member of the squad to depart, although central defender Ozan Kabak – who joined on a loan deal from Schalke in January – did not have his move made permanent and has been linked with a move to Leicester City.

Harry Wilson has left the club in a permanent deal following multiple loan spells – joining Fulham for a fee of £12.5million – while Taiwo Awoniyi has joined Union Berlin permanently and Marko Grujic has returned to FC Porto on another season-long loan deal.

More exits are still possible, with Xherdan Shaqiri set to end his three-year stay at Anfield and question marks over other peripheral players, including Minamino and Divock Origi.

Virgil van Dijk suffered the long-term injury in a Merseyside Derby against Everton last October
Virgil van Dijk suffered the long-term injury in a Merseyside Derby against Everton last October

Injuries

Injuries hit Liverpool like never before last season with central defenders Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all hit with long spells on the sidelines.

All three are expected to return to fitness for the start of the season after a full summer of training but none have been involved in friendlies thus far.

Captain Jordan Henderson is also fit – having returned at the Euros – after sustaining an injury in February.

As things stand, the Reds have a clean bill of health ahead of the new campaign but are wary that if any of the above are rushed back to fitness to vigorously, it could prove another setback.

Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane saw their form dip during the 2020/21 campaign
Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane saw their form dip during the 2020/21 campaign

Biggest issues

The form of a number of Liverpool’s star players dipped last season – the output of attackers Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino notably wavered after several sterling campaigns.

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s form was another to suffer, as his defensive vulnerabilities were occasionally exposed due to the lack of regularity of a central defensive pairing behind him.

Alisson Becker was another whose level of world class excellence notably dipped, while Thiago Alcantara struggled to find a run of form after his highly-anticipated move from Bayern Munich.

Aside from keeping star players fit for this campaign, a lack of squad depth and an ageing front line – Mohamed Salah, Firmino and Salah all turn 30 this season – are all reasons for concern.

Above all, the money being invested at Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City has outstripped Liverpool and that trio of clubs have unquestionably strengthened over the past 12 months.

The Reds will not start this campaign as title favourites, but if they can maintain pace with the leading pack and advance deep into the Champions League knockout stages – it should be considered a success.

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