Liverpool bank on stability over signings to end 30-year title wait

Liverpool's prolific trio of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino during the Champions League semifinal first leg tie against AS Roma. (Reuters/File)
Updated 08 August 2019

Liverpool bank on stability over signings to end 30-year title wait

  • On the evidence of last season, there is precious little for the Reds to improve on

LIVERPOOL: Missing out on the Premier League title despite a record-breaking campaign was eased by winning a sixth European Cup for Liverpool last season, but ending a 30-year wait to be crowned English champions is now more important than ever on Merseyside.

Jurgen Klopp’s men are expected to strike first blood in the title race when they kick off the Premier League season against newly promoted Norwich under the Friday night lights of Anfield.

However, unlike most of their competitors who have delved into the arms race for talent in another transfer window where Premier League clubs have spent over £1 billion ($1.2 billion), the European champions have been conspicuously quiet in the transfer market.

Teenage talents Sepp van den Berg and Harvey Elliott have been snapped up with an eye to the future, while Spanish goalkeeper Adrian will replace Simon Mignolet as backup to Alisson Becker in three low-key arrivals.

Klopp, though, believes the foundations are already in place for another tilt at the title after spending over £230 million in the past two years on the likes of Alisson, Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah.

“You should never do transfers because other clubs are doing transfers,” Klopp told Sky Sports.

“That makes no sense, it’s not about that. And if you sit back for a second and have a look at the squad, do we need more players?“

On the evidence of last season, there is precious little for Liverpool to improve on. A Premier League points tally of 97 would have won the title in any season bar the last two as Manchester City have set a new bar under Pep Guardiola.

City have further strengthened the squad that won a first ever domestic treble of trophies in England last season with the club record signing of Spanish midfielder Rodri and will be the benchmark for Liverpool to beat. A 1-1 draw between the sides, with City edging a penalty shootout 5-4, in the Community Shield last weekend again highlighted how little there is to separate the English and European champions.

Yet, in contrast to last season when Liverpool were the least affected of England’s big six by the late return to pre-season of players at the World Cup, Klopp has a tougher time in ensuring his side hit the ground running.

The prolific front three of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane were all involved in international tournaments again this summer.

Liverpool have decided against investing heavily in backup for that trio and their presence was missed in a bumpy pre-season that saw an under-strength side beaten by Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla and Napoli. But Klopp believes the squad he has assembled will be bolstered by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana and Rhian Brewster’s return to fitness, while Naby Keita can have a bigger impact in his second season in English football.

“People think that players from other clubs, other countries, are better than the players we have here but without really having the proof, because those players haven’t played here,” he said.

“It means whoever wants to start has to be at his top level. We have proper competition and that’s exactly what you need.”

Winning the Champions League also booked Liverpool’s place in next week’s UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup in December, meaning they have five trophies to play for this season.

However, it is ending 30 years of hurt by winning a 19th league title come May that will determine whether Liverpool’s season has been a success or failure.


Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson out for three weeks

Updated 2 min 30 sec ago

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson out for three weeks

LONDON: Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson will be sidelined for up to three weeks after suffering a hamstring injury against Atletico Madrid, the Premier League leaders announced on Friday.

Henderson picked up the injury toward the end of the 1-0 defeat to the Spanish side in the Champions League last-16 first leg on Tuesday.

The England midfielder has been assessed by Liverpool's medical team and was seen leaving hospital after scans on Friday.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp revealed the time frame for Henderson's injury at Friday's press conference ahead of Monday's Premier League clash with West Ham.

"We heard of different hamstring injuries now around in the Premier League, Harry Kane, for example," said Klopp. "It's not that bad.

"But he will be out, I think, for three weeks or so, which is not cool. But how we see it, we were still lucky. That's it."

Henderson's injury is a blow to Liverpool as he has been one of the team's most influential players this season.

The 29-year-old was recently made favorite by bookmakers to be crowned players' player of the year.

Klopp does have options to cover for Henderson, with Naby Keita back from injury and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in good form.

His absence also comes at a time when champions-elect Liverpool, 22 points clear at the top, face a run of relatively undemanding league fixtures against West Ham, Watford and Bournemouth.

There is also an FA Cup fifth-round tie at Chelsea to come on March 3 and Klopp will hope Henderson can make a quick recovery in time for the second leg of the Champions League tie against Atletico at Anfield on March 11.

Meanwhile, Paris Saint-Germain go into Sunday's home game with Bordeaux with a comfortable 10-point lead in Ligue 1, but life has been anything but comfortable for the French champions over the last week. Club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was indicted on Thursday in a Swiss corruption investigation.