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.


Saudi esports world cup winner a ‘class’ role model for young players: Gaming chief

Updated 15 November 2019

Saudi esports world cup winner a ‘class’ role model for young players: Gaming chief

  • Prince Faisal said the fast pace of technological advances was changing not only how people lived but their view of sport.

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s 2018 FIFA eWorld Cup winner Mosaad Al-Dossary was the kind of role model young players should be looking to emulate, according to the Kingdom’s esports gaming chief.

President of the Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronics and Intellectual Sports (SAFEIS), Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, told Arab News he was “proud” of Al-Dossary for his esports achievements and for showing “his class as a human being.”

Speaking on the sidelines of the Misk Global Forum, in Riyadh, the prince said the fast pace of technological advances was changing not only how people lived but their view of sport.

Equating esports to traditional sports, he stressed it was important that young people moderated their time playing video competitions. 

“Moderation in everything,” he quoted his father as telling him.

“Everything has its positives, within reason. I don’t expect our professional (esports) players to be playing for 18 hours a day. What we advocate is having good mental health, social health as well as good physical health.”

Prince Faisal said it was important that youth chose their heroes carefully, and Al-Dossary was an example of the perfect role model. 

“I’m proud of him for all of his many accomplishments in gaming, but I’m prouder of who he is as a person.”

He noted that during Al-Dossary’s winning participation in the Manchester FUT Champions Cup, in the UK, one of the tournament’s young competitors had fallen ill and was taken to hospital. Al-Dossary had ducked out of victory celebrations to go and visit his sick opponent, taking with him the green scarf awarded to world cup qualifiers which he left on the young man’s bedside table as a gift.

“I’m prouder of him for doing that, brightening up his opponent’s day, than I am of him winning the world cup,” the prince said. 

“He showed his class as a human being, not as an esports player. And that’s what we expect of all of our athletes and all of our young kids across all industries and sports.

“That’s the caliber of person that we have in Saudi, in our communities and that’s what I want to showcase to the world.”

Prince Faisal admitted that online harassment could be a problem, but said it was a global issue that could only be solved through education.

“There are errors, and esports and gaming is a new era, and it’s a new era of accessibility. Along with that comes a learning curve and an education curve,”he added.