Liverpool must bolster their squad or they'll be lucky to finish second

With a weaker group of players than they had last season, the fans at Anfield could be in for a frustrating campaign
Liverpool must bolster their squad or they'll be lucky to finish second

Benfica's Darwin Nunez during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final at Anfield, Liverpool. Picture: PA

MANCHESTER UNITED seem to be constantly under the spotlight and are rarely applauded for any transfer decision, but Liverpool should get more attention this summer.

While United have made mistakes and the Frankie De Jong transfer saga is embarrassing, they have improved their squad.

Christian Eriksen, Lisandro Martinez, and Tyrell Malacia will improve United and want to play for the club.

Brentford's Christian Eriksen has joined Man United. Picture: PA
Brentford's Christian Eriksen has joined Man United. Picture: PA

Paul Pogba, who become more of a burden than an acquisition at the club, has left and it does seem that United are heading in the right direction.

Success for Erik ten Hag’s side this season would be finishing in the top-four.

Yes, the signings aren’t world-class and aren’t good enough to win the league, but they are talented enough to guide United back into the Champions League.

Liverpool have to target winning the Premier League and or the Champions League, but from their transfer activity this summer, Jurgen Klopp’s side are in an inferior position to last summer.

The Reds have lost several players, including Sadie Mané, who was arguably their best player last season.

They have signed Calvin Ramsay, Darwin Nunez, and Fabio Carvalho as replacements. These players might fulfil their potential in years to come, but I don’t think they will be ready to make the sort of impact needed next season for Liverpool to overthrow Manchester City.

WEAKER

Liverpool are weaker than last year. Klopp’s ambition will be to win the league, but I don’t see how that is possible when they have weakened their squad, whereas City have strengthened theirs.

That’s not me judging Liverpool on a below-par pre-season. I would never read in to any pre-season games, no matter how good or bad the results and performances.

Nunez was recruited by Liverpool for around €100m and given that he was brought in to replace Mane, then there is going to be huge pressure on the 23-year-old.

The Premier League is an unforgiving place. Nunez might be given three to four games to find his feet, but after that people will criticise him if he isn’t performing and scoring.

Luis Diaz has been a success since his arrival from Porto last January. The argument could be made that Diaz has adjusted to the Premier League — a more demanding league — from Primeira Liga effortlessly and Nunez can do the same.

The striker was prolific in the Portuguese league and Liverpool will be hoping he can replicate his goal-scoring exploits in England.

Unlike Diaz, Nunez will be judged mainly on his goal return. Based on the fee paid for Nunez, you would expect him to score 20 league goals next season. Nunez might be given some leniency, considering it is his first season in the Premier League — where 15 goals will be acceptable — but I don’t envision him being an instant success and 10 goals might be more realistic.

Extending Mohammed Salah’s contract was as much about ensuring that the Egyptian doesn’t leave on a free next summer as it was about keeping him at the club for the next three years.

Liverpool were stubborn in their negotiations with Salah, but eventually caved into most of the Egyptians’ demands.

The issue with Salah is that he has peaked as a player. The first half of last season, he was unstoppable, but that form dropped off in the second half of their campaign.

Can he reach those same high levels again? Or will his form continue to decline? For me, it’s more likely the latter. Could it be that Liverpool will be left in the same situation that Arsenal were in where they had Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on high wages and underperforming?

Liverpool’s transfer budget is not as healthy as City’s.

They can’t recklessly spend without considering the consequences. However, they do need to loosen their purse strings.

They have to be admired for their transfer policy and how they seem to manage a low net spend, which is around the €30m mark this summer.

But they have to make more additions to the squad, otherwise, their concern will be finishing second, not overtaking City.

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