Assessing Salah, Solanke, and Liverpool's attacking options
The red half of Merseyside is a weird anomaly in the transfer market because they are linked to just about half of Europe's attacking midfielders, and then eventually sign someone from Southampton. The Hype Train reviews Liverpool's first two summer signings and where they could add to make them potential challengers for the upcoming Premier League season.
Liverpool: An Attacking Dynasty
True to form Liverpool's first two transfers have been attackers, both of whom have ties to Chelsea. First up is Dominic Solanke, a young striker who has like many youth products grown wary of future opportunities at Stamford Bridge. The second is Mohamed Salah, former Chelsea winger brought in by Jose Mourinho, the man dubbed the 'Egyptian Messi' has a chance at Premier League redemption under Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool. So far, no Southampton players have jumped shipped to Merseyside but it will be a long transfer window, and anything can change.
The Reds started with the unexpected and low-key transfer of Dominic Solanke, a prodigal Chelsea striker who has seen that the grass is greener on the other side and will join up with Liverpool when his contract expires at the end of June. The Englishman was the top scorer of England's successful under-20's World Cup challenge, and he has been lavished praise upon by Jose Mourinho in his last tenure as Blues boss.
There is potential galore with Solanke who must have been offered playing opportunities in order for the Reds to seal his transfer, it will probably involve cup starts and league bench appearances but that is more than what Chelsea were offering. Solanke will most likely start many of the under-23 games which begs a different question...is Solanke cover for Firmino of whom he been compared to, or is he going to be the makeweight to ensure that Ben Woodburn or Harry Wilson are going to be part of Klopp's plans for main team next season?
Solanke has the pedigree but he hasn't earned his stripes at Liverpool, Woodburn and Wilson have shown their quality at under-23's for Liverpool and have had time to learn and study Klopp's system, so it could be half a dozen of opportunities for the established players like Woodburn and Wilson, and half a dozen for Solanke. The increase of the Reds squad depth should be the positive supporters can take away from this deal.
The Egyptian winger becomes Liverpool's record signing at a cost of around £36mil, but it may not last that long if the Reds supposed ambition actually comes to fruition. Salah in the meantime is a big statement of intent, he has moved from a Champions League club where he was one of their most influential players to Anfield where he links up with an already juggernaut attacking unit.
The combination of Salah and Mane linking up on the wings is a frightening prospect, but it also means tweaks in Liverpool's potential lineup. Coutinho may move to a move central position in midfield alongside Lallana and Henderson, leaving the interchangeable front three as Mane, Firmino, and Salah. Coutinho's job will be be the creative playmaker which could see him become even more influential next season as his job will be to provide for the dynamic forwards.
Salah's transfer isn't just about getting pace on the wings, it also ensures that Klopp has more diversity and options in his favored 4-3-3 formation. Georginio Wijnaldum is the big loser of Salah's arrival due to the expected changes in attack, but it is a welcome addition of much needed attacking depth that caught Liverpool out when 2017 rolled in.
Liverpool's Midfield / Attacking Line-Up:
CDM: Jordan Henderson / Emre Can
CM: Adam Lallana / Philippe Coutinho / Georginio Wijnaldum
Wing: Sadio Mane / Mohamed Salah
CF: Roberto Firmino / Daniel Sturridge / Divock Origi / Danny Ings
Up & Comers: Ben Woodburn (Wing/CF) / Ovie Ojaria (CM) / Trent Alexander-Arnold (CM/RB) / Marko Grujic (CM) / Dominic Solanke (CF) / Harry Wilson (CF/Wing) / Sheyi Ojo (Wing)
Liverpool: Observations of Depth
Weak on cover at central midfield. Injuries to Henderson, Lallana, Coutinho, and others means that in a busier schedule there will be more emphasis on using the whole squad. Liverpool fans still shout about not having adequate cover for Henderson as Emre Can is more attack minded. Liverpool have been linked to Naby Keita of RB Leipzig and returning to Roma for the services of Leandro Parades. Either central midfielder just adds to the overall depth of which the Reds do need to cover for inevitable injuries and European commitments, Keita is the ideal option but comes with a huge price tag of £50mil (which we believe is an absurd amount of money for a player with one good season under his belt).
Still concerns over attacking lineup as Origi has been indifferent and Sturridge and Ings have been injury proof. A striker capable of getting twenty goals a season would improve the options even further. Liverpool have been linked to Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, unlike the realm of fantasy, there seems to a legitimate premise to the rumors and if the Reds were able to obtain the services of the Dortmund striker then they might have the fearsome attack in all of Europe.
Fans may still argue that the signing of another winger further adds to the competition and depth needed to fight on multiple fronts, especially with Liverpool in the Champions League for the coming season. All anyone has to do is recall the time when Sadio Mane was injured and on international duty to remember that Liverpool were a different team without their pacy assets. Liverpool have been linked with Gelson Martins who would be another great addition to the squad.
A reliable central defender who has the mix of height, presence in the air, and distribution was a huge miss for Liverpool in the last campaign. It is not like they already have someone who matches this criteria, and it would be even more unbelievable if they exiled that player, and then loaned him out to Crystal Palace where his pedigree was immediately noticed. This position is seen as the most critical to reinforce in the window with Virgil van Dijk the primary target. Having apologised for tapping up the Dutchman we believe the story is far from over and eventually he will force a move from the south coast before the beginning of next season.
Since John Arne Riise was last in the red shirt there hasn't been a decent left-back at Liverpool, period. Alberto Moreno was hopefully a solution to that, but it turned out he was a giant liability and even cost Liverpool their momentum during the Europa League final in 2016 against his old club Sevilla. Klopp has turned to central midfielder James Milner to plug the hole, and he has been good in the role, but it is noticeable that he can sometimes be out of his depth and a habit of cutting in on his stronger right foot which can slow play down. Liverpool must reinforce this position with two additions, Milner cannot continue in that role if Liverpool are serious of winning trophies next season. By purchasing an established left back and an understudy would solve the issue. Liverpool have been linked with Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Andrew Robertson (Hull), and Ryan Sessegnon; and so far no real strides have been made to address Liverpool's biggest problem area. By having options at full-back it means Milner could be Liverpool's utility player if there are any injuries or rotation for what will be a long campaign.
A busy summer...
The purchase of Salah was just a taste of things to come for what will be a defining summer for Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool squad. Depth in all areas is required for success next season, and if Jurgen rests on his laurels that a similar squad to last season can guarentee success then it is a huge risk that is unlikely to pay off. Liverpool return to European competition, and there is the pressure to ensure another Champions League place (or better) next season. Arsenal and Manchester United, and perhaps even Everton, are pressing to improve from last season so places at the top of the Premier League are at a premium.
There is a rightful hesitance from supporters who have seen evidence that Klopp would rather develop than buy players, and his trusted 'eleven' can be used even when out of form. This will be a nervy summer for all supporters, but if Liverpool get the right balance and depth heading into the new season then there is the potential that the Reds might be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming campaign.
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The Hype Train is an entertainment website founded in 2015, specialising in the Fantasy Premier League (#FPL), providing beautiful graphics and weekly insight for hopeful players attempting to climb ranking tables. We are also occasional media reviewers, with a keen interest to review movies, live sport, and professional wrestling.
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