Liverpool We have a great summer ahead of us, and it is increasingly unlikely that the Champions League will be played at Anfield next season. Jurgen Klopp could do with a little more Michael Edwards magic with all eyes on his side to see if they will recover from a 2020-21 campaign interrupted by injury.
The Reds are in seventh and seven points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, who have lost just once in all competitions since Thomas Tuchel took over in late January.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have one less game in the Blues after the postponement of Old Trafford’s clash with rival Manchester United last Sunday due to protests from fans who invaded the stadium.
But with so few games to go, regaining even a four-point lead for Chelsea could be beyond Liverpool. If you don’t, it will be even more important for the Merseyside team to get things off the pitch immediately during the summer months, to ensure that the absence of Champions League nights does not become a regular occurrence.
Express Sport looks at some of the most important tasks that await sporting director Edwards, while Liverpool are looking to arrange recruitment to go in search of the highest honors – minus the European Cup – next year.
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Diogo Jota scores two
Widespread doubts greeted his £ 45m arrival, but former Wolves player Diogo Jota has proved to be an excellent addition to Liverpool this season. He’s not Edwards’ first addition to break expectations and he probably won’t be the last.
The Portugal international contributed 12 goals and an assist in 27 games and is beaten by his teammates in the Premier League only by Mohamed Salah, despite being three months out due to injury.
With Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino out of shape this season, Liverpool need another striker capable of making a regular impact to relieve Salah and Jota.
Raphinha from Leeds United, Pedro Neto from Wolves and Donyell Malen from PSV are among the many strikers who have been linked to Liverpool, who will not have the money to sign names like Jadon Sancho, Erling Haaland or Kylian Mbappe.
Edwards must choose the right striker, one who is accessible, able to play in the top three, direct and ready to contribute instantly with goals and assists, if Liverpool want to get near the top of the table again.
Large sales figures
Edwards has become known for raising high fees for players leaving Liverpool, with Philippe Coutinho, Rhian Brewster, Dominic Solanke and Jordon Ibe among those who will be transferred at a high profit.
But the Premier League champions about to be dethroned, understandably, found it harder to get the rates they wanted for disadvantaged players last summer, with COVID-19 damaging the finances of all clubs in world football.
Without the riches of the Champions League next season, however, Liverpool must ensure that it will bring healthy numbers to those who leave Anfield between July and September. The extent of your business received may even depend on it.
Xherdan Shaqiri, Divock Origi, Marko Grujic and even Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita are among the players that Edwards can be in charge of downloading for good money.
Liverpool need every penny available and therefore cannot allow players to leave narrowly, but must also ensure that they do not demand exorbitant prices that make it impossible for them to sell unwanted stars.
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Managing the payroll
Liverpool’s payroll skyrocketed £ 117 million for the 2019-20 financial year, which spanned the winning season, to around £ 325 million.
Only Manchester City paid more (£ 351 million) and while poor performance on the pitch in 2020-21 means that bonus payments will drop considerably in the next financial year, Liverpool have a number of key players coming in the last two years of their contracts.
Salah, Mane, Fabinho, Firmino, Virgil van Dijk and captain Jordan Henderson are among them and many feel they deserve a pay raise to put a new deal on paper.
Liverpool need to ensure, in particular, that names like Salah, Van Dijk and Fabinho are tied (they will probably have more time on their side with the others because they will have less potential suitors) for new long-term business.
But they also need to make sure that, in doing so, they do not distribute massive salary increases that will hurt them financially in the years to come, and they must ensure that their strongly encouraged payroll remains at a manageable level.
Purchase of squadron reinforcement
Liverpool need a new striker, but they also need better support options in other areas of the team. Among the acquisitions in the Edwards entry tray will be another goalkeeper to rival Caoimhin Kelleher as Alisson’s No. 2.
A high-quality full-back, capable of playing as left-back and right-back, can also be useful, as Neco Williams and Kostas Tsimikas were rarely trusted to replace Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.
A central defender is already on the wish list, with RB Leipzig’s Ibrahima Konate about to join Liverpool, although exercising the £ 18 million clause to make Ozan Kabak’s loan permanent to Schalke may also not be a bad idea.
Finally, midfield is another area that needs improvement, with Keita struggling, Oxlade-Chamberlain apparently out of luck, James Milner aging and Gini Wijnaldum about to leave.
Liverpool can’t really afford to break the bank with such additions, but they know they need to bring in players who offer more than their current booking options. It is not an easy task for Edwards, then.