Despite the addition of seven new faces to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool squad, the side still looks slightly short of a side able to launch a realistic challenge for the top four and title.
The team may be stacked with quality in some areas, most notably attacking midfield, where Georginio Wijnaldum and Sadio Mane have been brought in to add competition to the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana, but the team still looks woefully short of quality in other places, namely left-back.
The state of the forward line lies somewhere between the two. Currently, Jurgen Klopp has four strikers at his disposal, all of whom are of significant quality. Each would be expected, with a full season under their belts in the right system, to score 15-20 goals in a Premier League season, but are Liverpool actually under prepared up front for the new season?
Firstly, Christian Benteke can basically be discounted from the striking picture. Never a good fit for Liverpool’s style after his £32.5 million move from Aston Villa, Jurgen Klopp’s arrival at Anfield basically ended Benteke’s career as a Reds striker. This has been compounded by the Belgian not being given a minute on the pitch during the team’s tour of the United States.
Considering that many youngsters such as Sheyi Ojo and Trent Alexander-Arnold were given game time, it is fair to conclude that Benteke will not be part of Klopp’s plans for the season, even if he is not sold by the club, leaving the manager with just three out and out strikers in his team.
Whilst this may seem like a good amount, especially considering that Firmino and Mane can both be deployed as auxiliary centre forwards, the fragility of the three centre forwards in the squad suggests a new forward may be a sensible idea. Daniel Sturridge, left out of the friendly against Barcelona with a hip complaint, is almost guaranteed to miss a minimum of ten games a season through injury. Divock Origi had spells on the sidelines as well last campaign, and it is yet to be seen how Danny Ings will recover from his cruciate ligament injury.
Were all three to be injured at the same time, as they were for long periods last season, Firmino or Mane would come in to play up front. Whilst playing the Brazilian up front sometimes paid off handsomely (such as in the 4-1 win over City), Firmino lacks the pace of a true centre forward and Mane doesn’t have the ability to hold up the ball. They would do a good job as cover, but they’d both be much better off from deeper roles.
However, buying a striker for depth is sometimes carries a little bit of danger. Say Liverpool were to go for a fairly big name striker, one who would expect to start every week in the Premier League, then they would have four strikers all believing they should be starting, there could be tensions within the squad. Competition within reason is good, but another big name striker could destabilise a fairly harmonious front line.
With just three injury prone out-and-out strikers available for the new season, Liverpool could certainly do with another forward in the squad, but have to be careful not to bring in another dud such as Balotelli or Benteke. A young, hungry talent like they got with Danny Ings last summer would be perfect, but is difficult to find. If they can find a cheap striker who is happy to sit on the bench, they should go for it, but if not, they must gamble on what they already have.
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