Premier League 2023-24 preview No 11: Liverpool
There was no hiccup in the process. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp wanted to rebuild their midfield, ideally as soon as possible, and signing Alexis MacAllister and Dominik Szoboszlai for a combined £95m ticked all the boxes. Saudi Arabian interest in Jordan Henderson and Fabinho disrupted the team’s preparations and two first-team pillars were joining James Milner, Naby Keita, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain outside the club. Midfield reconstruction was overdue, but Klopp did not intend to start from scratch.
Despite this, Liverpool has genuine reasons to be optimistic. The club is also determined to prove last season’s disappointment was a one-off that allowed Arsenal, Manchester United, and Newcastle to capitalise and not the beginning of a serious decline. A run of 11 unbeaten games at the end of last season restored belief and fine-tuned form.
As Diogo Jota and Luis Daz return to full fitness, Klopp will have an array of attacking options that will be significantly improved. The big-money signing from last summer has looked sharper in preseason as he tries to iron out the inconsistencies of his debut season at Anfield. Unlike their predecessors, Mac Allister and Szoboszlai bring more enterprise to Klopp’s midfield compared to their predecessors. Southampton’s Roméo Lavia is the young but exciting candidate to replace Fabinho, along with central defensive cover. It will hurt to lose Champions League football next May, but a Europa League final in Dublin next May will compensate. It was this summer that Jürgen Klopp became a grandfather for the first time, but that hasn’t mellowed him or softened his ambition. Last season, the 56-year-old said, “We played a bad season and came fifth.” In the new season, the team will be back to its normal self. Should Klopp transgress again, we will be a contender again.” Klopp received two touchline bans last season and has a one-match suspension carried over to 2023-24. In another example of the manager’s innovation, he switched Trent Alexander-Arnold into a hybrid defensive/midfield role last season, sparking Liverpool’s recovery.
Leading the shirt sales
The South American duo of Díaz and Núñez rank second and third on Liverpool’s shirt sales list, respectively, with Alexander-Arnold in fourth, but Mohamed Salah remains undisputed number one. The position reflects his importance to Klopp’s attack. While Liverpool’s forward line was in transition throughout last season, the Egypt international scored 30 goals across all competitions. Having reached the 30-goal mark for the fourth time in six seasons, Salah is tied with Steven Gerrard on Liverpool’s all-time list with 186 goals. On the first day of the season, he will surpass the Anfield legend.