After another dominant display that did not yield the result our performance warranted last Saturday, the question will inevitably be asked: should Liverpool invest in another striker?
I am still of the opinion that our normally prolific attack is simply going through something of a lean period in front of goal and that we aren’t yet in desperate need of a typical number nine to lead the line; our attack under Jurgen Klopp has always been about the sum of the parts rather than one particular player and I don’t think Klopp will ever put the onus on one player to score our goals.
That being said, it is not an unreasonable question to ask.
While Roberto Firmino has always been, and will remain, a key player for Klopp, doubts linger over the long-term future of both Daniel Sturridge and Danny Ings.
While Ings’ situation is a desperately unfortunate one, Sturridge’s is a little more complex; given that he has now entered the final two years of his contract at Anfield and there is no suggestion that discussions over a new deal are forthcoming, and that he has never been a regular starter for Klopp, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that his time at Liverpool could be drawing to a close.
I’ve written in the past about my belief that Dominic Solanke and Rhian Brewster are both going to be important players in our future but perhaps not so much in the here and now.
I would like to see Solanke get more minutes on the pitch as I feel he gives us something of a physical presence in attack that our other options do not but I do feel that eventually he, and Brewster, will get their opportunities.
Divock Origi should also not be discounted from any conversation about our attack.
While the temptation might be to write him off because he was allowed to leave on loan in the summer, a season of regular football at Wolfsburg might well prove to be the making of him at Liverpool; we’ve seen glimpses of the potential that Origi possesses but have bemoaned his inability to perform consistently.
A campaign in the Bundesliga might well rectify that and he could return to Liverpool in pre-season ready to finally establish himself as a regular for Klopp.
But it is not inconceivable that a forward is on Klopp’s shortlist next summer. And that it is the case, perhaps one of these five options might figure in the manager’s thinking.
I might as well start with the player who would surely figure at the top of most supporters’ personal wish list of attacking recruits, one of European football’s most prolific forwards who Klopp already knows very well.
It is somewhat surprising that Aubameyang is still a Borussia Dortmund; the Gabon international has made no secret of his desire to move on in recent transfer windows and yet none of Europe’s heavyweights have yet tried to prise him away from Germany.
Having scored ten goals in eight Bundesliga games so far this season, he is once again demonstrating his prowess and at, twenty-eight, is really now in his prime. But while the likes of Alvaro Morata and Romelu Lukaku moved for big money in the summer, Aubameyang was once again overlooked and you to wonder when, or perhaps even if, he will get the opportunity to move on from Dortmund.
I’m not sure that Aubameyang would ever be a target for Klopp now, but he fits the bill when it comes to the attributes needed to thrive in our attack; he is very quick, is versatile and can play across a front three, knows and has experience of playing in Klopp’s high-octane style of football, and is prolific in front of goal.
If we were to look for a ready-made replacement for Sturridge, someone who could compete with Firmino for a starting place from the off and be the difference in games like Saturday’s, I struggle to think of anyone who might be a better, and more attainable, option than Aubameyang.
From one prolific forward plying his trade in Germany to another.
Werner is fast establishing himself among the standout talents in the Bundesliga and, with Naby Keita having already a transfer to Liverpool next summer, is likely to be the next player to move on from RB Leipzig in the not-too-distant future.
He was tentatively linked with Liverpool in the summer but the speculation never amounted to any meaningful interest. If Klopp does decide that he would like to bring another centre forward to Anfield then my money would be on Werner figuring highly on his shortlist, although given the manner in which Werner has developed at Leipzig and has started this season, I’d expect another acrimonious battle to convince them to part with another of their prized assets.
Werner has five goals in six games this season and has also made a breakthrough into the German national team, scoring six in his first eight appearances for this country.
— RB Leipzig (@RBLeipzig_Fr) October 17, 2017
In terms of his style of play, he would be another perfect fit at Liverpool. He is similar to Firmino in that he never stops moving as the focal point of attack, using the channels to create space for both himself and others and unsettle opposition defences. His natural pace would make him a useful asset when Liverpool look to play on the counter and his excellent close control on the ball gives him the ability to create chances for himself out of what would normally be relatively limited opportunities in front of goal.
Dolberg is a player I would regard as something of a typical ‘Klopp target’.
Having enjoyed an excellent breakthrough season at Ajax in 2016/2017, he is the type of player that you could envisage the likes of Borussia Dortmund taken a chance on, giving an opportunity to impress on a grander and more demanding stage than the Eredivisie.
Given that he scored twenty-three goals in forty-six appearances last season, and played an integral role in Ajax’s run to the Europa League final, I thought that Dolberg would be the next player to move on from the Dutch giants’ famous conveyor line of young and emerging talent, but the Danish international remains in Amsterdam and has gotten off to something of a slower start in 2017/2018; he is yet to score league goal.
But having only turned twenty earlier this month, he remains among Europe’s brightest young prospects. Compared to the likes of Aubameyang and Werner, Dolberg would not be the calibre of prospective signing that would excite supporters but we know that Klopp always has an eye on the long-term when it comes to recruitment, that he believes in and is enthusiastic about developing players.
— Kasper Dolberg (@Dolbergofficial) October 18, 2017
Dolberg would be something of a project, not dissimilar to Origi in that he has the physical attributes to thrive in the Premier League but would need time to piece them all together.
And with the likes of Solanke and Brewster beginning their own rise to prominence at Anfield, do Liverpool need another project in our attack? I suspect that many supporters would say no but I also think Dolberg will prove to be an excellent player for whichever club eventually prises him away from Ajax.
Any list like this one needs a wildcard and Vietto is certainly something of a wildcard.
A little over two years ago, he was the forward that I hoped Liverpool would sign in the waning days of Brendan Rodgers’ reign. We ended up signing Christian Benteke, who was never a good stylistic fit with either Rodgers and Klopp, while Vietto signed for Atletico Madrid.
The Argentine had enjoyed an excellent start to his career in Europe having signed for Villarreal in the summer of 2014. He scored twelve goals in La Liga the following season and bolstered his burgeoning reputation with a further eight goals in the Spanish side’s Europa League campaign. A transfer to a bigger club beckoned and Vietto’s destination proved to be Madrid.
But the move has not worked out as anyone who followed his developed at Villarreal might have expected it would.
— Read Southampton (@ReadSouthampton) October 3, 2017
In twenty-eight appearances across three competitions, he scored three goals and was promptly loaned to Sevilla in the summer of 2016. Now back at Atletico, he has yet to rediscover the form that established him as something of a star of the future at Villarreal.
He would be another gamble but, given that his is still only twenty-three, one that might be well be worth taking.
Continuing the theme of exciting young forwards who are on the cusp of a big move to one of Europe’s heavyweights, Moussa Dembele is a player that I would love to see at Anfield.
Like Werner and Dolberg, I expected him to have made that move by now; in truth, I’m surprised he ended up at Celtic when he departed Fulham last summer, rather than a more prominent club in either the Premier League or on the continent. Paris Saint-Germain were reported to be heavily interested in him at the time but moving to Scotland has proven to be a wise choice by the Frenchman.
Granted a platform to play regular football and feature in the Champions League, Dembele has thrived under Brendan Rodgers’ tutelage. Thirty-two goals in his debut season at Celtic demonstrated his prowess in front of goal and that aforementioned big move is now inevitable.
The SPL may not be the most competitive league, but I liked Dembele at Fulham because he reminded me very much of Daniel Sturridge; he’s quick, he likes to play on the last shoulder of defences, he’s sharp in front of goal and he takes chances to get in the right positions to score goals.
Some players simply have something special about them and, in my mind, Dembele is one of them. I think he has all of the attributes of a modern day forward and would fit seamlessly into our attack as a focal point, someone who has the instincts and raw pace to stretch opposition defences, to bring those around him into play as well as finish chances himself.