What Liverpool have accomplished given its lack of net spend relative to England’s top clubs is remarkable. After the campaign it endured, however, it cannot expect to rebuild its squad without significant investment.
Even as far back as early last season, it was clear that a big summer lay ahead for Liverpool. The Reds came agonizingly close to completing what would have been arguably the greatest achievement in the history of English football with an unprecedented quadruple at the end of 2021/2022, but the previous campaign marked a sharp decline from their level over recent seasons. Their aim of reclaiming a top-four spot and challenging once more for the league title would demand a sizable shakeup to their squad throughout this transfer window.
The scale of that shakeup has exceeded expectations. While the exits of Naby Keita, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were arguably inevitable and Roberto Firmino’s emotional, but understandable for both parties, the sales of Jordan Henderson and most recently Fabinho have drawn greater scrutiny.
Henderson’s performances dropped heavily last season, but the Liverpool skipper’s experience and leadership in the dressing room would still have been of great value to this side. Even if he no longer had the legs to maintain his place as a first team player in Klopp’s highly demanding system, his unexpected move to Saudi Arabia leaves a void of those qualities.
Fabinho, on the other hand, was still sure to retain his place in his side’s first XI. Despite his struggles for much of last season, the Brazilian remained the strongest option as a holding midfielder. Liverpool’s interest in strengthening its selection in that position would not have been as urgent as it was for more advanced midfielders and as it now is in the wake of his departure.
While Liverpool satisfied its need for younger and more dynamic midfielders with the additions of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai from Brighton and Red Bull Leipzig, respectively, it now has another hole to fill in the middle of the park. Klopp experimented with Mac Allister in the no. 6 role in a friendly against Darmstadt, but that certainly is not where he envisioned fielding him when his side swooped in for his signature at the start of the transfer window.
At the moment, Southampton midfielder Romeo Lavia remains the Reds’ top target and the Saints are unwilling to budge on their asking price of 50 million pounds for the 19-year-old. With the season kick-off under a week away and having generated that exact amount from the sales of Henderson and Fabinho, Fenway Sports Group’s reluctance to meet Southampton’s valuation is truly difficult to fathom.
Liverpool’s vulnerability at the back last season also underscores the need for reinforcements in the defensive third, but nothing so far indicates that any will arrive before the transfer window closes. The Reds may come to regret their failure to fortify their defensive options as one injury to Ibou Konate or Virgil Van Dijk could prove costly to their challenge for a top-four finish or Europa League success.
At the start of the summer, the Anfield faithful were reasonable to demand heavy investment to address the deficiencies within Liverpool’s squad. Just days ahead of the season opener at Chelsea, they are now just as reasonable to demand an explanation for what’s proven to be an underwhelming transfer window.