Liverpool 2018-2019 Transfer Review, Part 1

Note: As we cover more of the top teams in the Premier League – especially the “Big Six,” the individual transfer write-ups will feature a look at the overall roster (as Part 1), followed by a separate post that will contain the individual transfers to/from the team, which will be updated as appropriate (as Part 2). 
Jurgen Klopp definitely drew some quizzical looks from both supporters and opponents following his usage of Liverpool’s checkbook in this manner. In 2016 Klopp was very critical of Manchester United’s acquisition of Paul Pogba for ~$115M saying that the spending was absurd and the “day that this is football, I’m not in a job anymore.” I’m not going to argue about the content or the validity of this statement, as Klopp himself seems to have considered a change of heart on this. He has also discussed that essentially, with great transfer budget, comes great expectations. Liverpool have been very successful under Klopp, as long as they are okay with being the runner-up, which I can assure you that Liverpool faithful and management are not.
Regardless of who is right in the media war of transfer spending versus homegrown youth prospects, the reality is that the transfer money is flowing like never before. Last year almost $2B was spent on transfers in a summer transfer window, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was surpassed this summer. By my math (which, I’ll be honest — is occasionally suspect) I’m noting over $200M spent my Liverpool this window alone (though — full disclosure, they got ~$140M for Coutinho last season). Overall, Liverpool’s recent history is good, with the highest average league position — but with the team Klopp has assembled, finishing 4th behind a lackluster Manchester United team, a blistering City team that annihilated the record books and Tottenham Hotspurs.
Klopp’s team last year suffered mightily from “Draw-o-philia” (“love of draws”), which ultimately cost them the 3rd place spot to Spurs. Despite having the 2nd best goal difference, Liverpool was stung by 12 draws. For comparison, the only other teams that achieved this feat were Burnley (7th place), West Ham (13th), Brighton & Hove Albion (15th), Stoke City (19th/Relegated), and West Brom (20th/Relegated). The next highest in the top-6 finishers was 8 draws, and if Klopp had been able to finish those 4 games as wins, they would have finished in 2nd place ahead of United. I don’t believe that company is acceptable for this team, Liverpool deserves better than being mentioned in sentences with 2 of the 3 relegated teams and 4 of the teams in the bottom half.

One of Liverpool’s biggest Achilles’ heels was in between the sticks, their performances ranged from marginal to straight up dreadful. In the most recent season, Klopp benched Simon Mignolet after a series of disappointing games, and an uneasy rotation began with Loris Karius also having poor games.  They even went to a “third-string” for an EFL Cup game. There are a number of well documented blunders from both “starting keepers” and essentially, this forced Klopp to make a move.  Klopp has already made a number of statements suggesting that when you spend that kind of money on a player, they are expected to play and perform (in regards to Alisson). This move has sent a clear message to both Karius and Mignolet — both of whom are reportedly under transfer offers from outside clubs. Regardless of the fallout Klopp clarified something for the first time in a number of years, that Liverpool finally has ONE starting keeper. 
Another component of Liverpool’s policy that leaves me slightly confused is the midfield situation. I think would could make the argument (and get relatively little opposition to) is that Liverpool has one of the best midfields around (even after Coutinho). They have Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Georginio Wijnaldum, Emre Can (now-departed; don’t get ahead of me), Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, James Milner, Mohamed Salah, and this season they’ve added Fabinho, Naby Keïta, and Xherdan Shaqiri. At some point you are going to run out of minutes to play unless you are just going to forgo defense entirely and just play 11 midfielders.
All of those midfielders not brought in this year played substantial time last season, and even without the new additions, there was not enough playing time for Can to renew his contract. Roberto Firmino has played a lot as the farthest forward player on the pitch for Liverpool — and Daniel Sturridge seems to have been given reason to believe that he’ll get playing time enough to satisfy his cravings. I am just at a loss for where all these minutes are going to come from, there are only 11 field players for 90′ per game. Just for everyone keeping score, I’ve listed 10 midfielders and they’ve only lost one.
To see a breakdown of Liverpool’s individual transfers this season, please click here for Part 2, which will be updated throughout the season with the latest transfers and other notable additions to the club.

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