Liverpool season preview: Relax, there’s no need to flex
And then you have Manchester City doing the ultimate flex by spending a preposterous £100 million to secure the services of Jack Grealish.
Don’t get me wrong. Grealish is a great player. But spending £100 million on a player like him is like spending $100 to buy a McDonald’s BTS meal.
WATCH: Jack Grealish's first day at Manchester City
It’s not that Liverpool has been completely silent in the transfer market. Ibrahima Konaté already looks like a bargain purchase. But like many other Liverpool fans, I’m desperate to see more new faces. I want to see an increased depth in the squad that would mitigate another injury crisis should we be so unlucky. And we very well could be so unlucky.
The past two seasons have been brutal for the players because the pandemic resulted in a cramped fixture list. To exacerbate matters, the end of the 2020/2021 season was followed by the Euros and Copa America. There is hardly time for some of the top players to fully recharge.
Seeing Liverpool’s lack of activity in the transfer market left me with many questions.
Where is Georginio Wijnaldum’s replacement? Aren’t we getting a world-class back up for Trent-Alexander Arnold? Do we not have a succession plan for our aging front three? Are we seriously sticking with Divok Origi? Are we really going to sit idle and watch as our biggest rivals strengthen their squads with marquee players?
But after watching Liverpool’s pre-season matches, these questions suddenly didn’t seem valid anymore.
WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool's pre-season win over Mainz
You see, Liverpool may have signed just one new player in Konate, but the squad has in fact received a boost from several “new” additions.
I’m not alone in saying this – Kostas Tsimikas and Takumi Minamino have been sensational in pre-season. I believe many fans would be dumbfounded if these two players don’t see their fair share of action in the new season.
And then we have Harvey Elliott. Yes, that 18-year-old kid who scored seven goals and made 11 assists in his 41 loan appearances for Blackburn Rovers. Mark my words, Elliott is going to be the next big thing. Think Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling. Yes, this kid is destined to be of that level.
Elliott is still a diamond in the rough, so he’s unlikely to make the starting eleven. But he certainly has the potential to become an impact sub this upcoming season.
We also have the return of the Anfield faithful. Watching Liverpool return to a 40,000-strong crowd for the friendly against Athletic Bilbao will surely go down as one of the highlights of my year. It was evident that the players missed the electric atmosphere as much as I have. The scintillating play, full-blooded play said it all.
Last but not least, the big Dutchman Virgil van Dijk is on the cusp of a return to full fitness.
WATCH: Konate, Van Dijk and Salah in Liverpool training
But I do believe Liverpool need one more signing. Naby Keita may have had a good pre-season, but he’ll struggle to fill the void left by Wijnaldum. The Guinean also appears to be too injury-prone. While the fabulous Fabinho seems like the perfect stand-in, I reckon Liverpool will still need someone else in the same mold.
Saul Niguez would be an excellent signing, but Liverpool would likely need to reduce their wage bill before they can add a new face to the squad. Xherdan Shaqiri, despite having an impressive Euro campaign, will likely have to make way. Other players set for an exit include Loris Karius. It’s clear as day that the German goalie has no future at the club, though it’s also quite evident that no one is interested in him.
Perhaps Lion City Sailors might be interested? After all, they recently signed a youth development deal with German side Borussia Dortmund. Karius could prove pivotal in COVID-19 prevention efforts. I mean, he’s simply fantastic at not catching stuff.
But even if Liverpool end this month without making a new signing, the Merseysiders could still very well be worthy title contenders with the current squad, provided we aren’t hamstrung by another spate of injuries.
Like the gaffer said, “We have so many things that you cannot sign. You cannot sign our counter-pressing, you cannot sign our atmosphere that we create in the stadium, you cannot sign Anfield, you cannot sign our anthem.”
Wise words indeed.
WATCH: Klopp talks about his squad ahead of the new season
Liverpool begin their campaign with a visit to Carrow Road this Saturday (Sunday morning, Singapore time). Newly promoted Norwich has not beaten Liverpool since April 1994.
If Liverpool’s pre-season form is anything to go by, the Canaries’ return to the Premier League would likely start on a forgettable note.
Score prediction: Norwich 1 Liverpool 3