Special thanks to Mike DeMarco for co-writing this piece.
Transfer time is almost upon the football world. It can be a time of hope and renewal, or a long slog toward missed targets and disappointment. Liverpool are a club in a precarious situation when it comes to recruitment. While they are still regarded around the world as a ‘top’ club, their lack of progress in the Premier League era has seen them fall behind their rivals on several fronts. As a result, the highest sought after talent most times have their heads’ turned by wealthier, more successful clubs.
This summer of course will hopefully bring with it the carrot of Champion’s League football. Players at the top of their game both need and want to prove themselves at the highest level. Anfield will now have that on offer for the first time since 2014.
Klopp has brought about a calming presence to player acquisition. His targets thus far have come in without much press influence or pressure. Big money signings Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum have made instant impact since coming into the side. Joel Matip’s free transfer has arguably brought the most composed defender the club have signed since Daniel Agger.
In this vein, Klopp will be hoping to sign players that are high on his wishlist. The below targets have been mooted as his prime transfer targets:
Jordan Pickford –
The goalkeeper is a young English talent that has stood out in a very poor Sunderland side this season. He’s made 26 appearances, kept 4 clean sheets and looks to be destined to play at the top of his game. With the vast potential Pickford may have, the question many fans would have is if he’s any better than Simon Mignolet at the moment.
Michael Keane –
Michael Keane has been a breakthrough star in a solid Burnley side this season. The 24-year old defender has gotten his first England cap in the process. This has led to him having many admirers ahead of the summer transfer window.
The Manchester United academy product has been linked with a return to his former club as well as a host of other top-half sides. The hard-tackling, quick footed defender has however played in a very well-drilled and deep defending side. Making the step up to Liverpool and becoming more isolated in his challenges would definitely be a test for the young defender.
Virgil Van Dijk –
Virgil Van Dijk has shown himself to be one of the best centre halves in the league these last two seasons at Southampton. Injuries notwithstanding, Van Dijk’s transfer value has never been higher and Southampton will likely try to cash in.
Liverpool has been wanting for a top quality defender to pair with Joel Matip, and their eye has been caught by the statuesque dutchman. While strong and good in the air, Van Dijk still possesses a fair amount of pace and a solid passing range. His utility would compliment Matip’s endeavor.
Liverpool will have to fight off interest from rivals who are also want for defensive reinforcement. Manchester City and Chelsea will likely look into signing Van Dijk and will spare no expense. If Liverpool are serious about signing him, they will likely point to their near-guaranteed first team minutes as a carrot.
Left back has been a problem position in the Liverpool squad for years now. The search has been on since last summer, but the lack of targets has left Klopp’s recruitment team scratching their heads and biding their time. The following names have been brought up as suitable candidates for the role:
Andrew Robertson –
The Hull defender has done admirably this season for the struggling side. The 23-year old has made 30 appearances this season, creating 19 chances and scoring one goal.
Ryan Sessegnon –
A breakout star in a decent Fulham side this season. Sessegnon has caught the eye of many premier league clubs following a very productive first season in professional football. The 16-year old has made 22 appearances this season, creating 13 chances and scoring 5 goals. He’s also very familiar with fellow U19 English star Trent Alexander-Arnold, which would make for an ideal future partnership.
Critics say the youngster’s talent profile mirrors that of Alberto Moreno a little too closely, with attacking verve much favored over defensive discipline. With such a precocious prospect, the thought may be that he can learn on the defensive side of the ball. Many Liverpool fans would prefer a signing for the present, rather than potential.
Sead Kolasinac –
The German-born, Bosnia and Herzegovina international was tipped to join the Reds last summer, but a move failed to materialize. He’s had a solid season in a underperforming Schalke side, which currently occupy 10th in the Bundesliga table. The chance of playing European football may be enough to entice the fullback to Merseyside. The 23-year old has made 23 appearances this season, creating 21 chances and scoring 3 goals.
Julian Brandt –
The german-born Leverkusen midfielder has caught the eye of Europe’s heavy hitters this season. A big-money move is surely on the cards for him this summer. Bayern Munich have reportedly lodged a offer, which could prove a big stumbling block in negations. Hopefully the long term interest Jurgen Klopp has shown in the winger will provide an incentive to turn his head toward Liverpool.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain –
Arsenal’s utility man has been touted as a possible target for Liverpool for the past few months. In January Klopp dismissed these rumors as false. They have again picked up steam given that the England International’s current deal expires at the end of next season. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s tireless motor and positional versatility tick two very prevalent boxes in the profile of a “Jurgen Klopp player”. This coupled by the tumultuousness at Arsenal could lead to the player’s departure.
Mohamed Salah –
James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo has been quoted as saying Mohamed Salah “has been on the club’s radar since [missing out on him] in 2014” and the Egyptian would certainly deserve a move. Salah has been on fire at AS Roma this year scoring 13 goals and assisting 10 in 26 appearances.
Possessing pace and in the goals, Salah would look a ready-made rotational partner to Sadio Mane and could potentially be prized away from Rome at an acceptable price (having arrived for only €15m). Like Brandt, Salah would likely not be interested in a move to Anfield without Champions League football on offer.
Daniel Sturridge –
While his talent is unmistakable, often-injured striker Daniel Sturridge will likely see the exit door this summer. When fit, Sturridge’s goalscoring record is thrilling, but he’s spent significantly more time on the injury table this season than available for selection.
With the potential value Sturridge possesses, Liverpool will be loathe to move him on without receiving an adequate fee. Finding a suitor doesn’t look too difficult. Rumors of interest from West Ham and Newcastle mean that the 27 year old’s time in the Premier League will likely not end in the event of a move away from Anfield.
Kevin Stewart –
In a thin Liverpool side, one would imagine they’d see more of a versatile workman like Kevin Stewart. The last word regarding the Londoner is that he is a bit below the cut of players Liverpool should be trotting out.
It may be harsh on Stewart, who admittedly made good accounts of himself this season, but the midfielder rarely looked comfortable. It might benefit Stewart were he to target a move to a newly promoted side where he would surely get a better chance to develop his skills and prove himself in the league.
Alberto Moreno –
The left back rarely featured for Liverpool during the 2016-17 season. Finding oneself on the bench behind an adapted midfielder will surely do no wonders for his confidence, and Alberto Moreno might consider a move away from Merseyside.
Once highly touted for his marauding runs and incisive crossing, his defensive haplessness has haunted him in red and he will wonder where he sees himself in Klopp’s future plans. With a potential surfeit of fixtures in the coming year, Moreno could still find a place in the German’s plans.