Liverpool’s Formation Next Season: 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1?

With LFC seemingly done with transfer signing for the summer of 2022, switching from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 could have huge potential benefits.

After their recent blockbuster acquisition of Benfica striker Darwin Nunez, many sources close to Liverpool FC have stated that the club are not looking to make any more major signings in this summer transfer window. This has caused somewhat of a stir among fans, as many feel that what the squad truly needs for next season is a midfielder, particularly one that can play in a creative role to link up with the attack. Even with the likes of Thiago Alcantara, Jordan Henderson, and Fabinho, the midfield has often been seen as the weakest section of Liverpool’s lineup for several years.

But what if this is all part of the plan for Jurgen Klopp? What if the signing of Nunez is a signal that Liverpool are interested in trying out something different with their squad? Perhaps a switch from a 4-3-3 formation to a 4-2-3-1 could be behind all this.

The 4-3-3 has been Liverpool’s staple for the better part of Klopp’s tenure, and for good reason. Since the signing of Mohamed Salah in 2017, and the subsequent renaissance the club has experienced, they have rarely lined up in any formation other than 4-3-3. With Salah joining Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino up front, Liverpool’s front three became one of the most feared in world football. They went on to win the Champions League in 2019 and the Premier League a year later. Even after signing forwards Diogo Jota in 2020 and Luis Diaz in January of 2022, they stuck with the 4-3-3.

But now things are changing in Merseyside. Sadio Mane will be joining Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga this summer, meaning Liverpool’s classic attacking trio will officially be a memory. Of course, with Firmino starting only 10 league matches last season, we didn’t see much of the original front three anyways. Klopp usually opted for Jota up front in the first half of the season, then switched to a front three of Diaz, Mane, and Salah after Diaz proved to be a terrific January signing for the club.

So what does this all mean for the midfield? If Liverpool were planning on sticking to a 4-3-3 next season, signing another midfielder would seem important. As mentioned prior, although the midfield is far from a poor one, it does leave a bit to be desired, and just one injury to any of their starting midfielders could be catastrophic.

But what’s important to note is that Klopp’s Liverpool have never been a team that is greatly dependent on their midfield to get their attack going; that’s what fullbacks Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold are for, as evidenced by the amount of assists they rack up on a yearly basis.

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Maybe this is the time for Liverpool to fully embrace what they are and play an attack-minded 4-2-3-1, using Thiago or Henderson as a holding midfielder with Fabinho, and focusing the rest on the attack.

Even after Mane’s departure, this team still has five different attacking options ranging from solid to world-class. A 4-2-3-1 formation with Nunez at the top, and Diaz, Firmino, and Salah behind him could open up a whole new world of options for Liverpool. Firmino is certainly the wild card of this bunch, as we haven’t seen him perform his best in the past two seasons. But it’s possible that a switch to this kind of role could be exactly what the 30-year-old needs at this point in his career. And even if that’s not the case, that still leaves Diogo Jota, who frankly could be put in any of these attacking roles and flourish under the right circumstances.

Even though the midfield may seem like the most pressing issue for Liverpool, that doesn’t mean that panic should ensue if they do indeed neglect to buy a midfielder this summer. Rather, it should be looked at as an opportunity to shake things up. Liverpool played in three cup finals last season, and although they won two of them on penalties, they scored zero goals in regulation. Their attack can at times be wonderful and electrifying, but other times it can grow stale. A switch to a 4-2-3-1 would mean keeping things fresh, keeping opponents on their toes, and utilizing their talent to its fullest potential. The 4-3-3 may have been what brought the Reds their recent success, but all good things have to come to an end, and there’s no shame in embracing new ideas when you have the manager and players to do so.