This year’s summer transfer window looks set to be yet another transitional period for Liverpool, as the club looks to implement the ways of their new manager Jurgen Klopp. The objective for the next season is clear – return to the Champions League. However, that might prove to be the toughest job Klopp has ever had in his entire managerial career.

What follows are the five simple steps that could potentially return Liverpool to the Champions League.

5) Sell Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho

When Jurgen Klopp took over Liverpool, Martin Skrtel quickly fell down the pecking order due to his inconsistency and troubling injuries, but he may now be gone for good, considering rumors that Besiktas is reportedly ready to offer as much as €9m to acquire his services. With Joel Matip already lined up to join Liverpool, it’s hard to see the Reds rejecting this sizeable offer.

Meanwhile, Mamadou Sakho should also be heading for the exit door this summer – and rightly so. Although his initial suspension has recently been lifted, Sakho is yet to stand trial for his reported substance abuse and the outcome is still anyone’s guess.

As far as Liverpool goes, the damage is already done and they might as well part ways with the talented center-back. This summer will represent the start of a new era for the Reds and they should be looking to avoid any potential controversy surrounding the team.

4) Sign a center-back

If Klopp decides to sell Skrtel and Sakho, he will be left with a gaping hole in the heart of his defense, which should undoubtedly prompt him to sign a new center-back. The aforementioned Joel Matip is a smart addition to the Liverpool backline, but the Reds will need at least one more defender in order to challenge for the top four.

Unsurprisingly, Neven Subotic has been linked with Liverpool ever since Klopp took over and it is not hard to see why the rumored transfer would suit all parties involved. Dortmund no longer need Subotic in their starting lineup and he will therefore be looking for a summer move. A reunion with Klopp might be the perfect solution for the towering Serbian center-back who was at his best when Klopp was in charge of Dortmund and in return, Liverpool could get a decent center-back in a cut-price deal.

Finally, if there is anyone who can help Subotic regain confidence in his abilities, it is Klopp and Liverpool should be trying to close this deal as soon as possible.

Read all about Liverpool target Mahmoud Dahoud in our Future Stars series

3) Sign a left-back

When Alberto Moreno joined Liverpool in 2014, many were hoping he would solve the left-back problem that has haunted almost every Liverpool side in the last 10 years.

The former Sevilla defender impressed in his early performances, but soon enough the honeymoon period was over and Moreno started struggling to recreate the heroics that dubbed him one of the most promising Liverpool players.

His forward runs may have left the Reds defense unprotected on numerous occasions, but it was his tendency to crumble under pressure that made him the biggest liability in the Liverpool starting XI. Klopp consequently tried moving Moreno further upfield and the Spaniard’s performances improved noticeably. However, that leaves the left-back position vacant once more.

As if Liverpool needed any more reason to find a new defender, Jose Enrique recently left Anfield, meaning that the Reds are now well out of their depth in the left-back spot.

FC Koln’s Jonas Hector could be the answer to the current Liverpool left-back problem, but his steep price tag (reportedly around €30m) might eventually put off the Reds. Nevertheless, if Liverpool truly want to challenge the top four next year, they will need to spend a lot this summer and Hector should be one of their priorities.

2) Do not sell Philippe Coutinho

This might seem like a no-brainer for most Liverpool fans, but the club might be tempted to sell Philippe Coutinho as Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly ready to offer €60m for the skillful Brazilian.

However, under no circumstances can Liverpool afford to lose their star player right now. If they decide to cash in on Coutinho, their position in the transfer market will be severely damaged and they might miss out on a number of transfer targets due to a simple lack of appeal.

Keeping Coutinho for at least one more year would be a strong statement of intent from the club and it might eventually prove to be the decisive move in the upcoming season.

1) Sign a defensive midfielder

It is common knowledge that Liverpool desperately need a holding midfielder who can bring some stability and consistency to the current side.

At the moment, Emre Can is covering the defensive midfield position for the Reds, but it is clear that he is far more suitable to play further upfront as a central midfielder. Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen and James Milner are all players that can fill the necessary role, but neither of them is a natural holding midfielder, which was more than evident in their recent Europa League final. Lucas Leiva, meanwhile, is well past his peak and can no longer perform regularly.

That means Liverpool will have to sign a new defensive midfielder and Mahmoud Dahoud has already been tipped to join Liverpool this year. The youngster would be the perfect signing for Klopp, but it might be hard to pursue Borussia Monchengladbach to part ways with another midfielder following the departure of Granit Xhaka.

Nuri Sahin is another possible solution for Klopp, but it remains to be seen whether the player would like to return to a club that treated him poorly during his previous, temporary stay at Anfield a few years ago.

About the author – Dusan Lucic

Dusan has been writing sports-related article for 5 years and has a keen interest in the Premier League, Bundesliga and Serbian SuperLiga. He has previously written for Bleacher report, Arena sport,  Sportal and The News Hub. He is currently studying Serbian language and literature at the university of Belgrade.


Share this article:


At the start of October, Liverpool’s imposing central defender, Mamadou Sakho, vented his frustration towards Brendan Rodgers, who refused to hand the Frenchman a start in Liverpool’s opening five matches of the season.

“Let’s say that during the short period when I was not playing, I was like a little caged lion who has not fed for a while,” he told L’Equipe.

“(Like a caged lion) when you open the door, he charges.”

Although it’s never pleasant to see a manager lose his job, Sakho would’ve quietly been thinking the sacking of Rodgers should provide the perfect platform for him to nail down a starting berth with the Reds.

If the early indications of the Jurgen Klopp era are anything to go by, he looks every chance to cement his spot in the heart of the Reds defence.

Against Tottenham at White Hart Lane, in Klopp’s first game in charge of the Merseyside outfit, Sakho, from his left sided central defensive station, repaid the German tactician’s faith to start him by putting in an outstanding shift that was full of upside.

Sakho, a much derided figure in recent times, undertook his duties with a palpable sense of authority, conviction and command, in a game where Liverpool crucially kept a clean sheet.

Charged with marking Spurs’ superbly talented centre forward, Harry Kane, Sakho performed his duty wondrously well. Whenever the pair were engaged in 1v1 situations, the physicality and sheer strength of the former PSG man shone through, as he hardly allowed Kane any joy.

In aerial duels, Sakho used his power and hulking frame to out-jump and outmuscle the lanky Kane, who struggled to find answers to the robust manner in which Sakho defends.

Even in scenarios where Kane would drop deep searching to link midfield and attack, Sakho would track him vigorously and heap pressure on his adversary to ensure that whenever Kane received the ball he never had an easy touch. This worked very nicely indeed, for Sakho’s relentless harrying impeded Kane’s time and freedom to make good, clear decisions once in possession, which he so often does in such instances.

In addition, the 25-year-old defender used his blistering covering speed to get across and support his teammates effectively. Being able to rapidly jet across the turf and cut out potentially dangerous attacks acted as something of a safety blanket for his team and provided another reason why his athleticism is so valuable to Liverpool. Alberto Moreno and Martin Skrtel were the predominant beneficiaries of this, and while they’ll be hoping to limit the occasions when Sakho is required to do this, they’d surely be comforted by the fact that, if they’re beaten, Sakho will more often than not mop up behind them.

In a positional sense, Sakho was nigh on flawless, hardly putting a foot wrong throughout. He showed a high level of discipline and concentration, which ensured he was never caught out by the multifaceted Tottenham attack. Such diligence in his duties saw him, when he wasn’t monitoring Kane, astutely pick up Spurs wingers Erik Lamela and Clinton N’Jie, when they drifted inside, plus he assisted in marking the intelligent Christian Eriksen when he looked to occupy zones in front of the Liverpool defence.

Another aspect of the Frenchman’s strong body of work that deserved mention came by way of his peristent communication with his colleagues. Showing his great leadership qualities, Sakho intently shouted and gestured to his midfielders and fellow defenders on where to best position themselves to deal with Tottenham’s attacking forays.

Sakho, who calls himself a “Liverpool soldier”, certainly lived up to his own billing, for his imposing and influential performance underlined what a vital component of Klopp’s side he should be.

The former Borussia Dortmund manager was straight onto the pitch after the final whistle to congratulate his lynchpin on a fine afternoon’s work, demonstrating his clear appreciation of Sakho’s display.

By the numbers, Sakho stacked up beautifully too, successfully completing nine of nine clearances, one tackle, three interceptions and bravely blocking two shots, as per StatsZone.

All things considered, after Sakho’s extremely accomplished effort, it’s somewhat baffling to reflect back and ponder why Rodgers under utilised his colossal stopper.

After all, upon analysing Liverpool’s central defenders, he’s quite possibly the best man in his position, with only Skrtel near him. With Dejan Lovren now playing like a shadow of his former self, Joe Gomez unfortunately out injured, Emre Can featuring in Klopp’s midfield and Kolo Toure an adequate backup, there’s absolutely no reason why Sakho shouldn’t be a mainstay at the back.

Another big challenge awaits Sakho this weekend in the form of Southampton’s burly, in-form forward, Graziano Pelle. The Italian international, while not as athletic as Kane, will pose a stronger physical obstacle for Sakho, who’ll surely relish this battle and see the clash as another opportunity to impress his new manager.

When recently speaking to Liverpool’s official website, Sakho touched upon the new found sense of positivity that’s surrounded the club with the Klopp appointment, saying: “It’s very good. All of the team feel the same. It’s a new manager, a new mentality, new training – everything is new.

“We have to adapt and we are ready to listen to what he says. He is here to help the team and to help every player and he wants to give 100 per cent for the club.”

Having put in another solid performance against Rubin Kazan in the Europa League, it’s great to see the stars aligning once again for Sakho.

It’ll be fascinating to see how things pan out for him under Klopp from now on, and the Southampton game will be another stern examination.

If he can keep up his promising form then Liverpool should have themselves a wildly gifted defender who should lead the club for many years to come.

Only time will tell if this will, in fact, be the case, but one thing’s for sure, and that’s that Sakho will be given every chance to earn his stripes under the expert tutelage of Jurgen Klopp. And for the man who possesses just about all the ingredients necessary to be a high quality defender, there’s no reason why he can’t do just that.

About the author – Edward Stratmann

Edward Stratmann writes regularly about the on-field aspects of the game, with a particular focus on tactics and analysis. In addition to featuring on These Football Times, Inside Spanish Football, Anfield Index, Just Football, The Eagles Beak, Think Football Ideas and JuveFC, you can also find Edward’s work at Licence to Roam, a football blog he started with his brother in 2013.

twitter: @licencetoroam


Share this article: