On Monday, the Liverpool squad will reconvene for pre-season training at the AXA Training Centre.
After beginning their summer programme in Kirkby, the Reds will jet off to Southeast Asia for friendlies against Manchester United and Crystal Palace in Bangkok and Singapore respectively.
Then it’s on to Austria, where they spent much of the 2021 off-season, for warm-up matches against RB Leipzig and Red Bull Salzburg before the Community Shield against Manchester City on 30 July. A clash with Strasbourg at Anfield the following day rounds off the schedule.
If you discount the Community Shield — the first opportunity for silverware — then there are five friendly matches for fringe players and youngsters to leave their mark. Of course, they can also make an impression on the training field too.
With the load of first-team stars carefully managed, opportunities open up. Indeed, Jürgen Klopp will often substitute the whole starting XI over the course of a friendly, as he did against Mainz and Hertha Berlin last summer.
For players in the academy, the audition process is already underway. They returned to Kirkby on Monday with assistant manager Pep Lijnders joining them, running the rule over the U21s and U18s, and deciding who will be joining Klopp’s pre-season squad.
Who, then, could significantly change their position and improve their standing at Anfield in the coming weeks?
One candidate is Tyler Morton. The Reds have seemingly decided not to sign another midfielder this summer, meaning they will remain without a natural back-up to Fabinho. Morton has predominantly operated as a central midfielder at academy level but Klopp mostly used him as a no. 6 across his nine first-team outings last season.
In the space of a month, he started Champions League games against FC Porto and AC Milan, and a Premier League game away at Spurs. However, he didn’t feature in either competition after the turn of the year, only making the Premier League matchday squad three times.
Morton’s composure and distribution are impressive, but he perhaps needs to demonstrate improved physicality in order to earn more responsibility next season.
There may also be a vacancy for Kaide Gordon. Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi have both left Liverpool, and the arrival of Fábio Carvalho only fills one of those spots. Gordon played just eight Premier League minutes last season but started domestic cup matches against Norwich City, Shrewsbury and Arsenal.
Minamino and Origi, by contrast, made 22 and 18 appearances respectively. If Liverpool decide not to consider external replacements, then Gordon could conceivably be promoted to a first-team back-up role.
He may only be 17, but he’s regarded as one of England’s outstanding teenage talents (part of his lack of minutes last season was also down to injury), and so his development could be accelerated. If he can be more ruthless in front of goal in pre-season than he was in his appearances last term, he may considerably boost his short-term prospects.
Another of the academy’s most exciting prospects is Oakley Cannonier. His record is sensational: 33 goals in 36 appearances overall for the Under-18s and one every 85 minutes in 2021/22. He was, unsurprisingly, the top scorer in the U18 Premier League.
Cannonier hasn’t established himself at U23 level yet, despite being older than Gordon, and so Lijnders might be hesitant. But if any U18 player is to get the call, it will surely be him. And if he holds his own in elite-level sessions, then he could be in line for his first senior outings in 2022/23.
All three players will hope to generate fresh excitement among the coaching staff and indeed the fanbase by showing that they’ve taken the next step.
And they may all benefit from the move to five substitutes in the Premier League, which should prove to be a blessing for young players.
It’s a distant memory now, but back in the autumn of last season, Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson was coming under pressure.
Robertson, arguably the best left-back in the world when on form, had been struggling for a few weeks, with his deputy Kostas Tsimikas shining at every given opportunity. Many felt that his place was under threat.
"He’s pushing," Jürgen Klopp said of the Greek international at the time. "Kostas is much better than he was." But, without prompting, the manager also threw another player into the mix: "We have Owen Beck coming up, big prospect."
In the medium term, Robertson and Tsimikas will continue to compete for the left-back spot. With the latter thus far showing no sign of discontent, it’s a perfect situation for Liverpool.
But Tsimikas (26) is only two years younger than the Scotsman, and so he can’t really be billed as a long-term successor. Instead, Liverpool might look to 19-year-old Beck to fill that role.
One of the outstanding players in the academy, Beck has registered 10 direct goal contributions (two goals, eight assists) in his first 38 Premier League 2 matches. He’s recording an assist every 4.75 matches on average, not far short of Tsimikas (4.3). Together with Conor Bradley, he formed an excellent full-back duo for the Under-23s.
Beck, the great-nephew of Anfield icon Ian Rush, has already earned seven caps for his country at U21 level.
He signed his first professional contract in June 2020, and just over a year later, he’d been handed a new five-year deal, a striking mark of his progress.
The Wrexham-born gem featured in Carabao Cup games against Preston North End and Leicester City, made the bench for three Premier League fixtures and, perhaps most tellingly, trained with the first team in the days leading up to the Champions League final in Paris.
What about his package of attributes? Well, in the words of talent scout Jacek Kulig, it’s ‘spectacular’. Pace, dribbling, ball control, dynamism, tackling, crossing and bravery are all listed as strengths.
Beck, Kulig says, plays with real ambition, driving with the ball and looking to reach the penalty area. He even compared him to a ‘prime Gareth Bale’ after he surged past three Juventus players on a solo charge in a UEFA Youth League game.
There’s plenty of justifiable excitement around Beck, then, but in the immediate future, he’ll be heading out on loan. According to reports, Liverpool have received offers from Serie A, Ligue 1 and the Primeira Liga.
While there’s interest from the EFL too, the club would rather send him to a top-flight club in Europe and given him the opportunity to face Europa League and Champions League-level opposition.
However, they face a significant dual challenge. First and foremost, he has to play enough games. As a teenager who’s only notched 10 first-team minutes at Anfield, he simply can’t expect to start week-in, week-out. But equally, Liverpool’s plan may not pay off if he’s restricted to cup outings and late league run-outs.
And second, the stylistic fit must be right. It’s important that he has the opportunity to get forward, rather than playing for a side that is often camped in its own final third by design or by necessity.
If Beck is to play regularly in one of Europe’s top six leagues, then the reality is he’ll probably be in the lower reaches of the division. But that doesn’t mean he can’t play under an attack-minded or aggressive coach.
Of the three continental options, the Primeira Liga stands out as the likeliest destination. Julian Ward has an extensive network of contacts in Portugal, having worked as the country’s head of analysis and technical scouting before managing Liverpool’s scouting network in the Iberian peninsula.
Ward then went on to become the Reds’ loan manager as part of his ascent to the role of sporting director. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him take an active involvement in this particular decision, in conjunction with loans manager David Woodfine.
Encouragingly, Klopp hailed Ward’s track record in the loan department as ‘incredible’. If he strikes gold again, then Liverpool could be reaping the rewards long-term.
Harvey Elliott has returned to England following his post-season holiday in the US, and reunited with his former QPR youth coach for a finishing session this week.
With Liverpool’s pre-season training due to begin on Monday, Elliott is now back on home soil and ramping up his preparations for the return to Kirkby.
On Thursday morning, that saw the teenager link up with striker coach Scott Chickelday at the 1878 Stadium in Burnham, Buckinghamshire, for a session focused on finishing.
It was not the first time Elliott and Chickelday have worked together, with the coach previously his manager at under-10s level with QPR.
Elliott initially came through the ranks at QPR before his switch to Fulham, and it was Chickelday who prompted him to move from his position at left-back into a more forward role.
Nowadays, Chickelday operates as an elite performance attacking coach under the banner SC9 Striker Coach, which saw him back working with his former protege for a series of drills.
In a post shared on the SC9 Striker Coach Instagram, the pair can be seen posing alongside each other along with a video of Elliott showing quick movement and an outstanding finish with his left foot into the far top-right corner.
“Top session this morning with young Liverpool attacker Harvey Elliott,” Chickelday wrote.
“Seems so long ago I was his manager at U10s at QPR, what a player this boy is becoming!”
Chickelday, who is also in place as Billericay Town Women manager, has been working with Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins this summer as well, along with a number of youngsters from Premier League clubs.
Melissa Lawley has signed a new contract with Liverpool FC Women.
The talented 28-year-old has committed her future to the Reds ahead of their return to the Women’s Super League (WSL) in September.
Lawley joined the club in 2019 and her three seasons on Merseyside have seen her become a firm fans’ favourite.
A skilful winger who loves to challenge defenders one-on-one, she was right at the top of the assists chart in the FA Women’s Championship last season.
LFC Women manager Matt Beard said: “Mel was outstanding last year. A great character, on the ball fantastic.
“I love the way she can just slow the play down, drop the shoulder, beat a player and turn defence into attack on the counter.
“She came up with some goals last year and some really important assists. It’s just great to see Mel play with that smile on her face and with that freedom.
“I think Mel’s coming to the peak of her career now, and I’m excited to see what she can do back in the Super League.”
Lawley herself is delighted to be extending her stay with the Reds ahead of the upcoming campaign.
“It’s a great time to be here and I’m just excited to carry on my journey with this amazing club," she said.
“Last season was an amazing experience and I know there’s more to come from this group of girls.
“Obviously it’s going to be a challenging year, but with the group of players we’ve got and the staff behind we’ll go in as a together team, work hard and the performances will come.”
Lawley has spent most of her career in the WSL with Birmingham City and latterly Manchester City before her switch to Liverpool, and she’s pleased to be taking on the best teams once again.
She added: “I’m looking forward to playing in the top flight again and push on from last season, getting the assists and hopefully scoring more goals, playing with a smile on my face and I know that’s going to happen with this group of girls.
“Beardy has brought the best out of me on the pitch, and I know next season he’s going to push me even more to be even better.”
While all football clubs will have their plans, hopes and dreams mapped out for the transfer window, very few get exactly what they want. The 98 teams in Europe’s top five leagues completed 1,555 deals last summer so that’s a lot of jigsaw pieces to fit together in the picture of ins and outs.
For relegated sides, it can feel more like Jenga than a jigsaw, with key pieces removed by vulturous clubs in the division above until their team collapses. The more interesting parallel for some would be Pop Up Pirate. They put more and more players into their barrel until one is deemed surplus to their requirements and pops out of the top to land elsewhere.
Few teams plan their board games better than Liverpool. Most Kopites would view Michael Edwards’ moves over the last few years as chess-like, and probably of the five-dimensional variety. But that isn’t to say they wouldn’t take advantage of a potential target being forced out elsewhere.
One of the key pieces moving around the Premier League chess board this summer looks set to be Raphinha. The Reds have been linked with the Brazilian for over a year, yet whatever interest they held appears to have cooled.
David Lynch recently provided an insight into their thinking on Blood Red’s Liverpool Transfer Daily show: “My sense, from conversations I’ve had, is that they don’t think he is a ‘game-changer’ level of forward that is worthy of this Liverpool team.”
The 25-year-old could be a game-changer for the Reds in another sense though, depending upon where he decides his future lies. Having been strongly linked with Arsenal, focus then shifted to a potential move to Chelsea. If rumours are to be believed, Barcelona are now ready to enter the fray too.
For Leeds United, his club, this is ideal. Any kind of bidding war can only be a benefit for them, with figures of £55m already being bandied about for a player Transfermarkt rate as being worth closer to £40m. If a deal goes through at the higher mark, then Raphinha would be the third most expensive deal of the summer so far, and the costliest sale made by a Premier League club.
Liverpool may hope he remains in England, for the knock-on effects a deal could have. If Raphinha joins Arsenal, then would that force Bukayo Saka to consider his future? The England international has been frequently linked with Liverpool, and could find himself pushed down the pecking order at club level, particularly if he has Gabriel Jesus to compete with too.
While both he and Raphinha are versatile and can play multiple positions, they both saw more of their starts on the right of the attack than anywhere else. Saka would likely choose to fight for his place in 2022/23 but might be looking for a move next summer when the Reds could be hunting high and low for a Mohamed Salah replacement. The Arsenal number seven would only have a year remaining on his contract at that point too.
Something similar could occur at Stamford Bridge if Raphinha decides to make west London his new home. In this instance, it could be Hakim Ziyech who finds himself pushed towards the exit door. Liverpool’s supposed interest in him dates back further, to 2019 when he was still at Ajax, though the odd story has trickled out since.
The Moroccan made 19 starts in the league and five in Europe in 2021/22, and as with Saka they were more frequently on the right of the front three than anywhere else. He too could face a fight for regular football with both Raphinha and a former Manchester City player, as Chelsea are rumoured to be looking to sign Raheem Sterling.
Clearly there are a lot of ifs, buts and idle speculation in the above. Don’t be surprised if similar thoughts have also floated through the minds of the transfer team at Liverpool though. The fun and games of the window may not be over just yet.
Liverpool Football Club will proudly lend its support to the city’s Pride celebrations throughout July, in support of the LGBT+ community.
The club’s iconic Liver Bird crest will be displayed in full Progress Pride colours across its digital platforms for the whole month, and a new and extended LFC Pride range is also available for Reds to show their colours.
The series of activities, which aim to show support and help raise awareness of the issues affecting the community, are part of the club’s ongoing Red Together campaign, LFC’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.
LFC staff and supporters will take part and stand side by side in solidarity together at LCR Pride Foundation’s ‘March with Pride,’ which will take place on Saturday July 30 starting at 12pm BST from St George’s Plateau.
The 2022-23 theme is ‘Come Together’ and has been chosen to represent not only the city region’s LGBT+ community returning to in-person events and much-needed connection to each other, but the need to come together as one united community, now more than ever.
This is the first in-person Pride in Liverpool March since 2019, with the club having taken part in the charity’s flagship event in a virtual capacity for the past two years.
LFC Foundation will be hosting its biggest ever Pride football tournament at Anfield Sports and Community Centre on Saturday July 23. The tournament, which will include both a fun and competitive element, will consist of 20 five-a-side teams with some of the club’s key stakeholders set to take part including LFC’s Kop Outs and Mersey Marauders.
This year there will also be an LBGT+ themed quiz and artwork station that teams can participate in to express their creative flair as well as a fun social event afterwards to celebrate together.
The new and extended LFC Pride range features nine different items available for fans to purchase including three new t-shirts, hoodies and a Pride flag. Proceeds raised from the collection will be donated to an LGBT+ inclusion charity that the club is working with as part of its Red Together campaign. To shop the collection, click here.
Rishi Jain, senior manager ED&I at Liverpool FC, said: “Liverpool Football Club has been involved in the city’s Pride celebrations for 10 years and we are proud to have been the first football club to join the Pride march back in 2012.
“It’s important that we continue to come together, demonstrate our support and help to raise awareness of the many issues that the LGBT+ community continues to face.
“Our support plays an important part of our Red Together work which details our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion as we strive to ensure LFC is a place where everyone can be themselves and feel welcome.”
To find out more about Red Together - LFC’s commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion - please click here.
[unable to retrieve full-text content]Spearing is back at Anfield in a player-coach role designed to help ensure the conveyor belt of academy talent at Kirkby keeps on rolling...
Liverpool still feel a little short in the midfield department this season. While the club are adamant their business is done for the summer, Julian Ward could change his mind if the right player becomes available.
The Reds will want to add a specific type of midfielder to their ranks. One who would be able to cover several roles in midfield, and who has the work-rate to suit Jürgen Klopp's intense gegenpressing regime.
At the same time, this player would need to be relatively young and someone who would rejuvenate the club's ageing midfield options, while also being available for the right price. It's an extensive list.
Konrad Laimer, at 25 years of age, is a midfielder who ticks all of those boxes. According to SportBild, the midfielder is available for as little as €30m this summer, which is around £26m. The player has just one year left on his contract, explaining the relative discount.
RB Leipzig are yet to receive an offer for the midfielder, which is somewhat surprising given Laimer has experience in the Champions League and Europa League, as well as being a regular with the German giants. He helped take them to the DFB Pokal title last season.
It is also somewhat surprising that Liverpool have not been credited with interest for the player, considering Klopp's need for reinforcements in the position. Laimer is available for an affordable figure this summer, and has the playing style and work-rate to match what Liverpool require in the team.
Add to that FSG's strong relationship with Red Bull, and the deal makes even more sense. In the past few seasons, the Reds have conducted numerous pieces of business with both Leipzig and Salzburg, and they will face both teams in pre-season this summer.
Liverpool will play RB Leipzig on the 21st July, and Laimer should be in the squad unless something changes radically in the coming weeks in terms of his future. If he does feature, Klopp will be able to get a first-hand look at the Austrian international and assess his qualities in the flesh.
For Laimer, that will be an opportunity to not only showcase his ability to play in a holding midfield and box to box role but also to continue his purple patch from last season, with the 25-year-old making five goal contributions in his last nine Bundesliga appearances before the end of the campaign.
A good performance could put him on the agenda for Liverpool and open up the potential of a transfer. If not this summer, perhaps next, when he would be available on a free contract.
What the future holds, only time will tell, but Laimer is a player to keep a close eye on, and a bargain Liverpool would do well to land. Klopp may soon get to see that for himself.
Serie A is changing its format from next season.
The new rule only pertains to the top of the table and the fight for the Scudetto. Should the two teams at the top finish the season on equal points, then a play-off game will happen in order to crown a new champion, rather than the old method of head-to-head record in the two games during the season.
This new ruling has come into being due to the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina, who is attempting to shake up the Italian game and to make it ‘more attractive’. Yet the chances of two sides ending on equal points remains remarkably slim, considering it hasn’t happened for decades.
The last time two teams finished level in Serie A was back in 1964 — ironically, the rules of the day required a play-off between Inter and Bologna. Since then, the league has been awarded on the usual basis of topping a league with the most points.
It could’ve happened in the season just past, with Milan and Inter going into the final day with a chance of winning the title. Had Milan drawn against Sassuolo instead of winning 3-0, the Milanese cousins would have been tied on 84 points.
So what if a similar scenario happened in the Premier League, and how would it affect Liverpool?
The Reds pushed Manchester City all the way in the fight for the title race in 2021/22, going into the final day of the season with all to play for. in the end, Liverpool’s win against Wolves wasn’t enough, as Aston Villa couldn’t hold on against City to deny Pep Guardiola’s side from winning a fourth title in five years.
But imagine a scenario in which both sides did end in a point stalemate, something hardly beyond the realms of possibility given the fine margins between Liverpool and Man City. Who would benefit?
The answer would be arguably Liverpool.
Both teams squared off against each other three times last season, and Manchester City couldn’t manage to beat Liverpool once. Liverpool’s trouble over the last few seasons hasn’t been about beating City, it’s always been about having the squad depth to maintain a title tilt in such relentless conditions.
Yet imagine the tension, the pressure, the excitement and the build-up for fans of both sides if the title came down to a one-off game? It is almost unimaginable — but the emotion of the occasion could well favour Liverpool.
As football tries new ways to appeal to a wider audience, this may be something that becomes in the norm in the coming years. The Americanisation of the beautiful game could see play-offs slowly creep more and more into the game, and not just for title deciders for teams on equal points.
Yet for now, the league system still captivates fans of the Premier League. If Liverpool are to overthrow Man City, they will need to do it the orthodox way.
Liverpool's academy in the last decade has experienced a bit of a revival.
During the 1990s, the club produced the likes of Steven Gerrard, Steve McManaman, Michael Owen and Jamie Carragher. But in the early 2000s, the biggest names to leave Kirkby were Jay Spearing and Martin Kelly.
That changed in the 2010s. FSG's takeover heralded an increased focused on the academy and it has reaped rewards with the likes of Raheem Sterling, Conor Coady, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Curtis Jones making a breakthrough in the team or succeeding elsewhere in the Premier League.
Jürgen Klopp, who has a knack for working with young talent, has also helped to facilitate that at Anfield with the Liverpool boss always open to promoting from within and not fazed by throwing youngsters in at the deep end.
Last season, Klopp gave debuts to the likes of Conor Bradley, Kaide Gordon and Tyler Morton, who are all highly-rated by the club's academy staff. They have been tipped to have successful senior careers in the future.
This season, Klopp will likely introduce more players into the first team. One such star could be Jarell Quansah.
The England U19 international is currently on duty with the Three Lions at the U19 European Championships in Slovakia, where he has been featuring regularly for his side at centre-back. Last night he scored a crucial winner against Italy in the semi-final of the competition to take England to the final.
It is not the first time Quansah caught the eye for England. During the qualifiers against Malta he had his own 'Matip-esque' moment, when he brought the ball forward from deep, skipping past several defenders and laying off a sumptuous pass for Alfie Devine to finish into the back of the net. You can watch the clip of the run here, starting from 0:05.
His positional rival Billy Koumetio has so far tasted more first team action for Liverpool, but Koumetio has been sent out on loan this summer, and his departure could be an opportunity for Quansah to catch the eye.
Something Quansah will be more than ready for, considering he statistically outperformed Koumetio last season.
In the UEFA Youth League last season, Quansah averaged more defensive duels (5.6 per 90) than Koumetio (2.83), and enjoyed a better defensive duel success rate (58.3 per cent over 54.2 per cent), as per Wyscout. He also won 77.3 per cent of his 3.46 aerial duels per 90 and averaged 6.45 interceptions — again outperforming his defensive partner Koumetio.
Composed on the ball, as well as being an accomplished defender, Quansah has even featured at right-back for the club's U23 side this season, and he is an extremely intelligent player. Having only turned 19 years of age in January, he is still very young, and has plenty of time to make his mark in senior football.
He will be hoping to take some silverware back to Liverpool when he returns to pre-season, and whether he will start with the academy or the first team is still undecided. But with moments like his header at the Euros, he must be on the cusp of catching Klopp's attention.
Many Liverpool supporters want to see a new midfielder added to the ranks this summer – so why, if reports are to be believed, is Jurgen Klopp not so desperate?
You’ve probably seen that plea on your timeline at some stage within the last month.
As it stands, Liverpool will go into the new season with their senior midfield options consisting of Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Thiago, Naby Keita, Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
New signing Fabio Carvalho can also play in a number of roles in the centre of the park and further forward.
On paper, that looks to be plenty, with eight or nine players battling it out for three, or even two, positions.
Delve a bit deeper, though, and you can understand why some fans have concerns.
Henderson is now 32. Thiago, 31, can be prone to injury, as can Keita, while Jones and Elliott are still learning. Milner will be 37 next year and Oxlade-Chamberlain was out of favour towards the end of 2021/22.
The Reds were interested in acquiring Aurelien Tchouameni from Monaco, but after the Frenchman opted for Real Madrid, plans to sign a new midfielder have reportedly been shelved until next year.
Here, we assess several reasons why Klopp and the club’s recruitment team may feel they already have enough cover in the centre of the park.Is Carvalho already the forgotten man?
Portugal under-21s midfielder Carvalho is yet to have even been officially unveiled as a Liverpool player, but some are already overlooking the part he could play under Klopp this season.
At 19, Carvalho is a player for the future, but it would be naive to write off his chances of making an impact straightaway.
It remains to be seen where Klopp will feel the Fulham academy product is best utilised, with reports stating he may initially be used as part of the forward line or as a No. 10.
There are claims, though, that the club eventually see Carvalho establishing himself in midfield.
With 10 goals and eight assists in Fulham’s emphatic rise to promotion last season, this isn’t just a young player with a lot of potential, this is one who has the talent to feature now.
Don’t bet against him being this year’s surprise package of pre-season – and possibly the season as a whole.More to come from Jones and Elliott
Jones is 21 years of age. Elliott is 19 years of age. That is often forgotten.
Many have labelled the pair as squad options for the upcoming campaign.
That may have been the case last season, but both will rightly have aspirations to eventually become first-team regulars. They certainly have the talent to do so.
Elliott in particular threatened to establish himself as a starter in the early stages of last season, before the nasty ankle injury he sustained at Leeds.
There is a reason that both were ahead of Oxlade-Chamberlain in the pecking order for the majority of last season.
Klopp is investing in them for the future. Jones and Elliott are at stages where game time is essential for their development. Oxlade-Chamberlain less so, with just one year remaining on his contract.
At youth level, Jones looked every bit the ultimate attacking midfield player, bursting past players for fun and scoring some ridiculously good goals.
We’re yet to see that at first-team level, but Klopp will know there is still a lot of unfulfilled potential in his No. 17.
Elliott, too, clearly has the talent to become a star of the future in this Liverpool team.
If we’re ever to see Jones and Elliott at their very best, both need games. Signing another elite midfielder would limit those opportunities even further.One more year of Ox?
As the 2021/22 campaign drew to a close, Oxlade-Chamberlain was one of the players reported to be on his way out of the club this summer.
In recent weeks, though, the club have indicated a willingness to see him stick around until his contract expires next year.
That may be because Liverpool were unable to secure the services of Tchouameni and have now decided to target a midfielder next year instead.
Despite not playing a single minute for Liverpool since the FA Cup victory at Nottingham Forest in March, Oxlade-Chamberlain made some significant contributions earlier in the campaign – particularly in January, when Keita, Mo Salah and Sadio Mane were away for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Last December, Klopp even claimed that we were seeing “the best Ox” since his arrival at the club in 2017.
Those contributions make him a valuable squad option and, although he may find himself at the bottom of the midfield pecking order at the start of the season, Klopp can continue to trust him to do a job when called upon.The Bellingham waiting game
Three examples of Liverpool happily waiting until they got exactly who they wanted.
Could Jude Bellingham be the next?
Borussia Dortmund are very unlikely to sell this summer, having already offloaded their other star, Erling Haaland, to Man City earlier this month.
It wouldn’t be at all surprising, though, if the Liverpool recruitment team were putting most, if not all, of their eggs in the Bellingham basket for next summer. Who could blame them?
The Birmingham-born midfielder surely ticks all of the boxes Klopp will want for his next midfield addition.
Having only just turned 19, he would be the leading figure in Liverpool’s midfield for years to come and a natural successor to Henderson.
Work may well already be going on behind the scenes to ensure Anfield is his destination of choice next summer.
If that’s the case, surely no Liverpool fan would begrudge the decision to wait until he’s available.A change in system?
Some believe Liverpool’s summer transfer business, particularly the signings of Carvalho and Darwin Nunez, points to a change to a 4-2-3-1 formation this season.
That would, of course, mean Klopp would only have to select two midfielders, as opposed to three, which would further justify his decision to stick with the options currently at his disposal.
There is an argument to suggest that Nunez would benefit from being the focal point in Liverpool’s attack, in front of three other offensive players.
It would also mean that the likes of Jones and Elliott would be likely to get more opportunities in more attacking positions, where they are arguably most comfortable.
It is not the first summer a change to a 4-2-3-1 has been theorised among supporters, but could this be the year it really comes to fruition?Wildcard: a surprise role for Calvin Ramsay?
When it emerged that Liverpool wanted to lure Ramsay away from Aberdeen, the general consensus was that he was being recruited as a right-back option.
That may well be the case, but in his first interview with the club it was intriguing to hear Ramsay himself say that he was also comfortable playing in midfield, having done so as a youth player in Scotland.
There were also external reports that claimed the club viewed Ramsay as a player who could fill a number of roles on the right-hand side.
Could it be that Klopp and his recruitment team have identified him as a player who can be a reliable midfield option?
Ramsay: "I can play a few positions, I think I’m quite composed on the ball, can find a pass, get shots away.
“I can play centre-mid, right-back, right wing. Anywhere really."
— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) June 19, 2022
Alexander-Arnold could also be useful further forward, but that seems highly unlikely after Klopp questioned Gareth Southgate’s decision to use his No. 66 in that position at international level last year.
“Why make the best right-back in the world a midfielder?” Good question, Jurgen.
There’s no doubt that a new midfield addition will now be high Julian Ward’s list of priorities.
If it’s not this summer, though, then don’t be surprised if Klopp has something unexpected up his sleeve for the new season.
Trust him, why wouldn’t you?
Jude Bellingham’s price has been set at €120 million, while This Is Anfield can exclusively reveal new photos of the Anfield Road End expansion.€120m for Bellingham, you say?
Borussia Dortmund will not entertain offers below €120 million for reported Liverpool Jude Bellingham this summer, according to Sport Bild.
Is €120 million really that much for a player of Bellingham’s potential? And would he cost even more than that next summer?
Those are the questions some Liverpool supporters are asking.
Bellingham turns 19 today and is still scarily young when you consider his achievements in the game so far.
He registered six goals and 14 assists from midfield for Dortmund last season and already has 15 England caps to his name.
Providing he stays fit, you’d imagine his stock is only going to rise in 2022/23 and Liverpool certainly won’t be the only interested party this time next year.
While Bundesliga runners-up Dortmund are unlikely to let Bellingham leave in the same summer Man City swooped in for Erling Haaland, if they really would consider an offer around €120 million, should Liverpool be testing the water?
How much do Liverpool want Bellingham and how much does Bellingham want Liverpool?3 things today: Exclusive Anfield expansion update
? ANFIELD EXPANSION UPDATE
• Major progress since the end of the season
• Work on the new upper-tier has begun
• 2 large cranes on-site to lift roof truss
? Watch a full update here ??
— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) June 29, 2022
Latest transfer chat
Admit it, this got you excited for the new season, didn’t it? A shiny new pitch is in the works at Anfield!
New pitch being prepared for the new season ? pic.twitter.com/1Y6t1dpjib
— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) June 29, 2022
There isn’t a more divisive player in the current Liverpool team than Naby Keïta. The Guinean has been at the club for four years now and many Liverpool fans feel they are still waiting to see who the ‘real’ Keïta is.
The Keïta issue tends to go as follows: there are those in the pro-Keïta camp, who believe that he is good when he’s on the pitch, and that his best qualities aren’t always those that can be easily picked up by TV cameras. Then there are those in the anti-Keïta camp, who believe he’s injury prone and doesn’t particularly excel in any given area.
Take a glimpse through social media platforms whenever Keïta plays for Liverpool and one can find a real mix of extremes, with people excessively lauding his performances, and others severely criticising him for the simplest of things.
Keïta, it seems, brings out the worst in Liverpool fans.
Yet the former RB Leipzig midfielder has a chief ally in Jürgen Klopp, with Klopp calling him ‘one of the best midfielders in the Bundesliga’ when the club bought him in the summer of 2018.
It’s presumably because Klopp is a big fan of Keïta’s that there are reports Liverpool are in talks with the player about extending his contract. Having been mentioned as a likely outcome earlier in the window, The Athletic report that the club are now 'pushing' for his signature.
Keïta’s current deal expires in 12 months' time, and the club won’t want to lose him for free in the summer of 2023. A move away this summer is also unlikely, given that Klopp needs every available body in midfield for 2022-23, as the club are supposedly looking to make a move for Jude Bellingham next summer.
So tying Keïta down makes the most sense, which is bad news for those in the anti-Keïta camp.
Last season was his most productive in terms of minutes on the pitch since joining the club. Keïta managed to stay relatively injury-free (by his own standards), missing only eight games. He clocked in some 2,000 minutes last season, scored four times and contributed three assists.
However, this only amounted to 14 starts in the Premier League and five in the Champions League. And critics have always used his transfer fee against him, as well as his inability to stay healthy, as proof that he isn’t a Liverpool-level player.
Yet Klopp has no doubts, and said as much earlier this year. “Naby, I would say, is one of the best midfielders I ever saw,” said Klopp in January.
That’s remarkably high praise indeed.
Retaining Keïta makes perfect sense. He’s still young enough that Liverpool could sell him in a year’s time should the club feel the need to, and they could still make back a portion of the mammoth £52m they spent on him in 2018. Moreover, he can still give his contributions throughout a season when fit, and he has a fan in Klopp who knows when and how to utilise him.
So renewing his contract is the right call to make, even if the critics will be sharpening their knives once more.
Liverpool are just days away from the start of pre-season, with the 'break' seeming to have passed in the blink of an eye. It will not be long before Darwin Núñez makes his eagerly-anticipated debut, but that's just one of many exciting things on the horizon.
Away from the looming return of the Reds, transfer rumours continue to rumble on in the background. Specifically, links to Jude Bellingham are reaching fever pitch, with the prospect of a 2023 deal talked up in many corners.
We asked Liverpool fan Nick Sapia a few questions about the Reds.
Transfers appear to be finished for the summer. Are you happy with that, or should Liverpool be looking for one or two more?
Yes, I am happy, and I think this will ultimately be seen as a critical window in Liverpool's evolution. Darwin Núñez is a statement signing, the club handled the Sadio Mané situation swiftly and deftly, and the potential of Fábio Carvalho and Calvin Ramsay is exciting. The squad is set up for long-term success.
There is clamour for another midfielder, as it's the one area of the squad where FSG haven't made a significant refresh. Still, Liverpool have repeatedly proven that they will make the right choice over the expedient one, and I think they've earned the benefit of the doubt on this.
That said, Liverpool are always a little cheeky about their plans this time of year, and it wouldn't shock me if there were a few more twists and turns.
Pre-season starts in less than a week! Who are you looking forward to watching ahead of the new campaign?
It's hard to believe! A new season is exciting, but I do feel for the players, who could probably use a slightly longer break. It will be an unorthodox pre-season given the quick turnaround and the unique season ahead of us.
Obviously, I can't wait to see Núñez and Luis Díaz with a pre-season under their belts, but for me, it's Curtis Jones. Suppose he can make a bit of a jump, find some more consistency, and put himself in the conversation to start every week. If that happens, we'll have few worries about the midfield.
Jude Bellingham appears to be the obvious midfield target for 2023. Would he be the one for you, or is there anyone else you think worthy of a mention?
It does seem like he is the extent of the list at the moment, and it's hard to argue against him. He ticks so many boxes at such a young age and is the obvious choice to build the next iteration of the midfield around.
He won't come cheap, both in terms of fee and his wage demands, and there's likely to be serious competition. If I'm building a target list behind Bellingham, I'd have Salzburg's Luka Sučić next up, given that he's of a similar age and looks like he has a lot of promise, and Nicolò Barella third on the list.
Anything else to mention?
I'm curious to see the tactical approach this season. I suspect we may see a lot more 4-2-3-1 with the likes of Roberto Firmino playing as an attacking midfielder. It seems clear that Jürgen Klopp is building a team of talented players with positional flexibility. I think he'll want to find ways to get Firmino on the field with Núñez, Díaz and Mohamed Salah.
This formation will help get more combinations of players on the field at certain times, while resting other midfielders and offering a bit of unpredictability.
Expansion of the Anfield Road End is now really taking shape, with major progress since the end of the season seeing work on the upper tier now beginning.
With Liverpool’s season at Anfield having come to a close on May 23, construction has had weeks of uninterrupted work to take the expansion to another eye-catching level.
At the start of April, foundations had been laid and were in place for the new upper tier to be constructed before joining on to the existing stand.[embedded content]
And now, at the end of June, they have pushed on with speed as the ‘wow’ moment described by Colin Roddy of the contractors, The Buckingham Group, has been delivered as you can now start to appreciate the sheer size of the new stand.
It now towers over the landscape in Stanley Park, which is where the roof is starting to be assembled with cranes at the ready to then put the roof trusses in place.
It ensures the project remains on schedule with Roddy having told This Is Anfield back in March that “you’ll really get a feeling for the height of the structure at about the end of June start of July.
“We hope to see the first grandstand steel go up and we can appreciate what we’re building here.”[embedded content]
And what they are building is a structure that will see “the eventual roof be approximately 40 metres, which is nine metres shorter than the Main Stand, to give you some perspective.”
It makes for an exciting new development for the £80 million project, which will add 7,000 extra seats and take the Anfield Road End capacity to 15,967 fans, boosting the stadium to 61,015.
The existing roof will be removed during one of two possible windows – during the Qatar World Cup or the end of the 2022/23 season – with the expansion due for completion in summer 2023.
There is also work going on inside Anfield, with a new pitch being prepared for the new campaign.
Exciting times all around Anfield!
Liverpool waved goodbye to Takumi Minamino this week, as the Japanese international completed his move to Ligue 1 side Monaco.
Minamino’s two-and-a-half years at the club weren’t an overwhelming success, but neither were they an outright failure: the truth is somewhere in the middle. He was pivotal for Liverpool last season in the earliest rounds of the cups, scoring a bagful of goals as they breezed through in the early going.
Minamino found playing time more difficult to gain when it came to the Premier League. He played a sum total of 176 minutes across the entire campaign. Yet even within that relatively short time, he still managed to score three goals.
Despite the lack of game time in general across the season, Minamino’s impact, mostly unseen, was made public by Jürgen Klopp in his tribute to the departing forward, as he trades Liverpool for the Principality.
Speaking to the club’s official website, Klopp waxed lyrical about his now-former forward, saying: “It’s hard to see Taki go, but it’s a great move for him and one he thoroughly deserves.
“An amazing professional; super, talented player. As a person, he is full of warmth and makes everyone feel positive. A manager’s dream, to be honest.
“I’m sure there will be those who think it didn’t quite work out. Those who think this are wrong. I don’t accept that.
“His contribution far outweighs the opportunities we were able to give, in terms of starting matches. He made us better each and every day he was with us – not just in the games he played in but every single session in training. Perfect attitude, winner’s mentality.”
There have been question marks as to who will replace Minamino in the squad. Who will be that player to start in the early rounds of the cups? This has become an even more pertinent question with the departure of Divock Origi, who has joined Milan.
The likes of Fabio Carvalho, Kaide Gordon and Harvey Elliott could be the ones brought in to take over the Minamino role. Considering Klopp’s effusive praise of Minamino in the wake of his departure, if the German is to trust the likes of Elliott, Gordon and Carvalho to effectively replace Minamino, then that is a huge level of faith.
The young trio will no doubt get their chances, just like Minamino did, in the cup competitions. Moreover, with Klopp perhaps contemplating a switch in formation due to the amount of attacking talent within the squad, Carvalho, Elliott and Gordon could all see game time increased in a way that wasn’t possible for Minamino in the 4-3-3.
The young trio have a long future ahead of them, and next season will be about developing and improving, especially for Elliott and Gordon, who tasted first team football at various points last season. For Carvalho, it will be about settling into the club and impressing Klopp.
But given the high estimation Klopp holds Minamino in, instilling his faith in Gordon, Elliott and Carvalho is a wonderful show of faith. It will be up to them to seize their moments, just like Minamino did when he got on the pitch. Especially for the new man, it is a huge vote of confidence: it's set to be an exciting season ahead.
Salah and Wijnaldum spent four years together at Anfield, making 182 appearances alongside each other as key cogs in Jurgen Klopp‘s successful side.
But the Dutchman opted to depart Liverpool on a free transfer at the end of the 2020/21 campaign, joining Paris Saint-Germain in a lucrative deal that, it is fair to say, has not panned out as hoped.
However, Wijnaldum did end his first season in Paris as a Ligue 1 champion, playing 31 times in the French top flight as PSG finished 15 points clear of second-placed Marseille.
The 31-year-old has headed into the summer with question marks over his future, and tentative links with a return to the Premier League.
Before that, though, he has been enjoying his post-season holiday in Dubai, where he was joined by Salah this week:
In a short and sharp post on Twitter, the Egyptian shared a photo of the pair sat down for dinner, with the caption “reminiscing.”
Salah and Wijnaldum have a lot of fond memories from their time together at Liverpool, of course, having won the Premier League, Champions League, Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup as part of one of the most dominant sides in the club’s history.
It is unfortunate how it has unfolded for Wijnaldum so far at PSG, but hopefully he can find his feet either in Paris or at another club for the campaign ahead.
There is very little chance of a return to Liverpool, of course, with Klopp’s midfield already well-stocked and plans in place for a high-profile addition next summer.
[unable to retrieve full-text content]Michael Edwards is considered among the best in the business – maybe even the best – when it comes to buying and selling players