There’s a constant buzz – both when transfer windows open and when a team hits a roadblock mid-season – of which players a team and manager can bundle up for a good fee to bolster the squad.
Of course it’s interesting to speculate about which player is going to break a club’s transfer record, and there’s a strong tradition in sporting circles of passing around potential line-ups with your favourite players from Spain, Germany and the far-reaching corners of the world.
That doesn’t mean, however, that the club needs to wade out into the rumours, speculations and bidding wars that comes with bagging high profile players, especially not in the coming windows.
Why? Because it’s becoming clear that the squad for Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s “five-year-plan” that was promised with his signature is coming together.
Yes, a lot of the players that he’s taken under his wing were signings made by previous manager Brendan Rodgers – and a few of the names still in the squad were signed by Kenny Dalglish in his second term as club helmsman – but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t rated by the eccentric German.
In fact, they were necessary for the basis of his rebuild, and it’s clear that the plan the ex-Borussia Dortmund manager is seeking to implement would have struggled to find its feet without key stars from the eras that came before him.
So what is the end game of Klopp’s five-year-plan?
A European return? It can’t just be that, because the squad has barely changed and Klopp has already earned that prize.
Continued appearances in the top league of Europe? In part, this is the target Jurgen Klopp is aiming for, but it’s just part-and-parcel to what he wants to achieve – the return of Liverpool FC as a name that is spoken among the ranks of the world’s greatest clubs.
Although the domination of the early 2000s never translated to a Premier League title for the Reds, the club won both English cups multiple times, bagged the equivalent of the Europa league and crowned their glories with the treble in 2000/01 and the 2005 fairytale in Istanbul.
Liverpool’s reputation, and the prestige of the club, shone bright in the early years of the 2000s, and that lustre and pride disappeared as silverware dried up, players slipped away and a series of bad owners and managers left the once great team in shambles.
Klopp’s plan is to return to the glory days of old, and put Liverpool back on its perch.
So has he managed to achieve that? In part yes.
The attack, and perhaps midfield too, is nearly complete. Klopp has to only replace departing players (likely Emre Can and Philippe Coutinho) and those areas are complete.
In the ranks of the forwards Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané are the starting men, and are backed up by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Daniel Sturridge and Dominic Solanke.
The midfield is a bit trickier to confirm as complete due to potential departures, but assuming they are indeed headed out the door this summer the middle of the park is left with key maestro Adam Lallana, captain Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita and Gini Wijnaldum, all of whom are backed up by James Milner and the juniors. Assuming a Coutinho replacement is arranged, the midfield is complete as well.
Just Liverpool’s defence remains a question-mark in Klopp’s five-year-plan, hence why the German manager was hesitant to sign a stop-gap when Virgil van Dijk’s move failed to eventuate – he wants to get the completed package.
Assuming Alberto Moreno, Joel Matip and Nathaniel Clyne start alongside Klopp’s new centre-back signing (Either van Djik or another), and Dejan Lovren, Ragnar Klavan and Joe Gomez join Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold as back-up players, defensive depth is sorted.
So Klopp is on the precipice of finishing the first stage of his plan – make the squad into one capable of challenging on multiple fronts for a season long campaign.
Another spending spree would be unviable: the stability of having a playing squad that needs bolstering only when players depart is a major key to success for teams – just look at Tottenham’s ascendancy after finally putting the £85.3m Gareth Bale spending spree in the past.
There will always be roadblocks in the season, but ripping open the wallet is no longer the answer. We are well on our way to seeing Jurgen Klopp’s plan enter the next stage and the club will be stronger for it – now we just tentatively wait for the boons of Klopp’s master plan.