Transfer news: Who should Liverpool keep and which stars will be shock departures during the off-season

Alex Broun 28/05/2018
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Will Mohamed Salah be a shock departure from Liverpool during the transfer window?

It’s been an extraordinary season for the Reds with early exits in the EFL Cup (to Leicester) and FA Cup (to West Brom), a fourth place finish in the Premier League (squeezing out Chelsea) and a valiant and at times controversial loss to Real Madrid in the final of the Champions League.

But the question on the lips of all Liverpool fans is how does Jurgen Klopp make the squad genuine Premier League contenders next season and plot a possible return to the grandest stage of all, next year’s Champions League final in Madrid?

Here are our verdicts on who Klopp should sell, who he should keep, and who the jury is still out on:

GOALKEEPERS

LORIS KARIUS: After the debacle in Kyiv you would think Karius would be the first person out the door but getting rid of the young German would just be too predictable – and heartless – for Klopp. Karius is clearly in pain after his two horrendous errors, and desperate to make amends, and it’s just not Klopp’s style to cut someone who needs support now more than ever, and whose fragile confidence needs to be rebuilt. Expect Karius to stay but to become the new No2 choice to whoever comes in to replace Simon Mignolet. VERDICT: KEEP.

SIMON MIGNOLET: Discarded as No1 choice mid-season for Karius, the mercurial Belgium can be brilliant on his day but more often than not can be dreadful. He has been sullen and sulky since his axing from the first team and no doubt Klopp has lost patience as much as Mignolet is keen to move on. The way Mignolet walked around the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium with a smirk after the Reds heartbreaking loss to Real Madrid shows his days are well and truly numbered. But the question is who comes in? VERDICT: SELL.

DANNY WARD: The Welshman has been very short on chances and has not looked out of place in his rare times he has appeared on the pitch. Seems to have a positive attitude and is ready to bide his time and wait for his chance. Unless Ward wants to leave Klopp would be silly to sell him. VERDICT: KEEP.

ADAM BOGDAN: The victim of a recent Manchester United hoax, the Hungarian is still on the books at Liverpool but after some horror shows for the Reds he was loaned to Wigan in 2016. He tore his ACL four months later and hasn’t played first-team football since. Liverpool are probably just keeping him on till his contract runs out and he’s able to secure a new club. VERDICT: SELL

Trent Alexander-Arnold has been a revelation for Liverpool this year.

Trent Alexander-Arnold has been a revelation for Liverpool this year.

DEFENDERS

ANDREW ROBERTSON: One of the finds of the season who looked right at home in the Champions League Final. Coming to Liverpool from relegated Hull for just 8m pounds, the young Scot looks to be one of the best buys in years. He started off behind Alberto Moreno in the pecking order but as soon as he got his chance he never relinquished. Already a fan favourite Reds’ supporters will be hoping he stays for many years to come. VERDICT: KEEP.

VIRGIL VAN DIJK: Klopp finally got his man in January and since his arrival the big center half has been superb. He oozes class and a touch of arrogance and has brought solidity and that rarest of commodities – confidence – to the previously porous Red defence. Cost a lot but looks like he is worth every penny. VERDICT: KEEP.

DEJAN LOVREN: Liverpool fans love the tenacious Croat for his passion and character. What they don’t love him for is his regular howlers that gift goals to opposing teams. But since Van Dijk’s arrival Lovren has grown in stature and to be honest was rarely troubled in the Champions League final. The kind choice is to keep him and hope he continues to improve, the tough choice is to be ruthless and cut him. So that makes the VERDICT: UNCERTAIN.

JOEL MATIP: The top ranked defender before Van Dijk arrived, but after the Dutch captain asserted himself it’s been about working out who best partners VVD in central defence. Matip’s form dipped and he seemed to be losing that race with Lovren but then was injured in April and missed the rest of the season. Klopp will probably give the tall Cameroonian one more season to show what he can do. VERDICT: KEEP.

TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD: The 19-year-old, straight out of Liverpool’s academy, has been superb, growing in ability in every game. He has proven he is right at home in Europe’s elite – safe at the back and dangerous going forward. Again could be in the right back slot at Liverpool for many years to come. VERDICT: KEEP.

JOE GOMEZ: Question marks still swirl around the 21-year-old who looked like he was establishing himself as first choice midway through the season only for a few poor performances and injury seeing him slip out of favour. There is also uncertainty of where is his best position – centre half or full back. Gomez probably deserves another year to see whether he can cut it or not in the Liverpool back four. VERDICT: KEEP.

ALBERTO MORENO: The 25-year-old is a goal waiting to happen. He would be one of the most unpopular player with Reds fans due to his constant mistakes, getting caught out of position and giving up hard won leads. He hasn’t played much this year and hence Liverpool’s defence has been far more solid. Most Reds fans are baffled why he is still at the club and to boot has been offered a contract extension. VERDICT: SELL.

RAGNAR KLAVAN: Used off the bench in the last few months and to tell the truth has been poor. When you want someone to come off the bench and close the game down it seems the Estonian is not your man. Strange he too has been offered a contract extension by Klopp. VERDICT: SELL.

NATHANIEL CLYNE: A long term injury kept him out for most of the season and while he was gone he found Trent Alexander-Arnold had usurped his place. Will only be back up to TAA now and its questionable the ex-international will be happy to play second fiddle. May look to move on if the right team were interested. VERDICT: KEEP.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has shown himself a worthy addition to the Reds squad

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has shown himself a worthy addition to the Reds squad

MIDFIELDERS

ALEX OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN: Injured in the first leg of the semi-final of the Champions League, the Ox was greatly missed in the final against Real Madrid. Has become a very important player in a short period of time and Klopp is bringing out the best in him. VERDICT: KEEP.

EMRE CAN: The want-away midfielder has refused to sign a new contract and is heavily rumoured to have already committed to Juventus. Although on his day he is a great player it seems his heart is set on elsewhere. VERDICT: SELL.

JAMES MILNER: At 32-years-old Milner may be starting to get past his use-by-date but no one works harder than the former Leeds and Man City midfielder. He gives 1000 percent every time he pulls on that Reds jersey. With Naby Keita and other new signings on the way he might find his position more under threat, but he will be at Liverpool for a few more years yet. VERDICT: KEEP.

ADAM LALLANA: Doubts are starting to grow whether the 30-year-old will ever deliver at the top level. Lallana is always injured and when not his form is patchy. A definite fan favourite who loves the club but does Klopp have the luxury to persevere with the ex-England star. Offers would be listened to. VERDICT: UNCERTAIN.

JORDAN HENDERSON: Another interesting one for Klopp. Henderson is a passionate club man and will give sweat and blood for the Reds cause – but is he the man to lead Liverpool to the very top? Van Dijk has shown real leadership qualities already and is now the first name on the team sheet. Could we see Klopp transition to VVD as leader which would mean Henderson’s place is more flexible? It will also depend on who comes in to replace him this summer. A big offer for Hendo could force Klopp’s hand. VERDICT: UNCERTAIN.

GEORGINIO WIJNALDUM: Arriving from Newcastle when they were relegated in 2016 Gini has had some great moments for the Reds but again can he take them to the very top? This will depend on other signings but again offers may be listened to. VERDICT: UNCERTAIN.

Klopp must be careful to hold on to Ben Woodburn.

Klopp must be careful to hold on to Ben Woodburn.

FORWARDS

MOHAMED SALAH: In one season the Egyptian has become a Reds legend mentioned alongside names like Dalglish and Rush. 44 goals in your debut campaign will do that. Salah is a must keep if the Reds are to continue to improve and Liverpool will do everything to keep him. The only club he would leave for is Real Madrid – but is that still the case after Sergio Ramos’ cynical foul put him out of the UCL Final and endangered his World Cup? VERDICT: KEEP – AT ALL COSTS.

SADIO MANE: Can miss the odd easy chance but overall has been superb, as perfectly displayed by how he raised his performance to lead the line after Salah went off injured in the Final against Real Madrid. Another must keep for the Reds but don’t be surprised if some big clubs come knocking on the door for the super Senegalese. VERDICT: KEEP – AT ALL COSTS.

ROBERTO FIRMINO: Many wondered how Firmino would react when his countryman and friend – Philippe Coutinho – departed for Barcelona. But if anything the Brazilian’s combination with Salah and Sane got even better with Firmino stepping up as chief playmaker. Quiet in the UCL Final but apart from that superb. But again offers may come making him hard to keep. VERDICT: KEEP – AT ALL COSTS.

DANNY INGS: Did well to recover from a long term injury and a great club man but again he is a luxury Liverpool simply cannot afford. Clearly is not a striker on the same level as Sane, Salah and Firmino and probably never will be. All offers should be listened to. VERDICT: SELL.

DANIEL STURRIDGE: It’s hard to believe but Sturridge, currently on loan at WBA, used to be as revered as Sadio Mane or Robert Firmino. (He was never quite on the Salah level.)  From being one of the most feared front men in European football – his 2013-14 “SAS” partnership with ex-Reds team-mate Luis Suarez saw 55 goals scored between them in all competitions – Sturridge is now nobody’s first choice. His injury-proneness is at a point of parody. Everyone, perhaps even Sturridge, has lost patience and belief and he will be sold as soon as anyone can be found who will pay his hefty GBP120,000-a-wek wages bill or his contract expires. VERDICT: Sell.

DOMINIC SOLANKE: The gulf in class for Liverpool against Real Madrid was clearly shown by the fact whereas Real had Gareth Bale to call on – Liverpool had Dominic Solanke. One goal a season is simply not enough to justify any potential he may or may not have. Klopp may give him one more season to prove his worth but he should be out the door sooner rather than later. VERDICT: SELL.

BEN WOODBURN: The talented young Welshman has looked to have real class whenever he has been given a chance – and to be brutal Klopp should have given him more chances. Klopp needs to integrate Woodburn more into the playing group asap or he may find the exceptional 18-year-old being tempted away from Anfield. VERDICT: KEEP.

DIVOCK ORIGI: The Belgium youngster was impressive in patches for Liverpool in 2016-17 and was surprisingly loaned out to Wolfsburg for the season. He was up-and-down for the Germans, who just escaped relegation through a playoff, starting well then getting injured and finishing strongly. Wolfsburg don’t want a permanent deal after his five-goal return – so he is back to Anfield next season. He seems a better option than Ings and Solanke however Klopp may let all three go. VERDICT: UNCERTAIN.

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Jordan Henderson hoping to move on from Champions League disappointment quickly

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Henderson acknowledges the Liverpool fans in Kiev.

A clearly emotional Henderson was close to tears as he spoke in the bowels of the NSC Oliympiysky Stadium following the 3-1 loss to Real Madrid.

Having been forced to watch the Europa League final defeat to Sevilla two years ago from the bench as he was not fully fit, this one was even more difficult to take.

But the 27-year-old hopes a successful run in Russia this summer will ease the pain.

“Obviously (I’m) devastated. It is the worst feeling I have had in football,” he said.

“It will hurt for a while but you have to move on in football. The World Cup is coming up. Things move quickly. You have to focus on going forward.

“Some of us have time off to go and get away and take their minds off it, and others have got the World Cup.

“I want to get back to business as soon as possible. We are devastated for the fans.

“Overall we have to be proud of the achievement getting here. We have done brilliantly.”

Defeat was the third in a final during Jurgen Klopp’s three seasons at Liverpool and the German manager’s sixth in succession in showpiece events.

However, despite that record Henderson is convinced he can eventually lift a long-awaited trophy for the club under this manager’s guidance, with Klopp having a contract until 2022.

“I believe in this team. I believe in this manager. I believe we are going in the right direction,” he added.

“It is so difficult to stand here now and say that but that is the truth. It is how I feel. We have to make it happen.

“I believe we will be back (in the Champions League final). I believe we will be challenging in all competitions domestically.

“The Premier League is important to us and we are qualified for the Champions League next year so we need to do it sooner rather than later.

“If we do that, we will be more experienced.

“It’s a fine line, isn’t it? It is hard for me talking now, saying we must learn from the experience but that is what we have to do over the next days and weeks.

“We have a young, fantastic group of players, who deserve more. We did fantastically well to get here and now we need to keep growing as a team to be successful in the future.

“Only good teams get to the Champions League final so we have to make sure this is not the last final, that we are in more finals and win trophies.

“We have good players here and we will strengthen. There are more coming in. It is hard to be positive but come pre-season we will be ready to fight again.”

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Loris Karius admits he 'lost' Liverpool Champions League final

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Goalkeeping nightmare: Karius.

Loris Karius admitted his mistakes had cost Liverpool any chance of winning the Champions League final.

The 24-year-old was in tears at the final whistle in Kiev after the Reds’ 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid.

The Spanish side’s first goal came when Karim Benzema charged down an attempted throw-out by Karius, and the goalkeeper then allowed a long-range Gareth Bale shot to slip through his grasp for the third.

“I lost my team the game,” he told talkSPORT.

“I’m sorry for everyone – from the team, from the whole club – that the mistakes cost dearly.

“If I could go back in time, I would. I feel sorry for my team. I know I let them down.

“It’s very hard right now but that’s the life of a goalkeeper. These goals cost us the title, basically.”

Former Reds goalkeeper Ray Clemence said Karius would have to live with his mistakes “for the rest of his life”.

Clemence, who was in goal for Liverpool’s first three European Cup wins including the 1-0 victory over Real in 1981, told BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek programme: “He’s made two horrendous errors at vital times in the game and he has to live with that.

“He’s got the whole summer to think about it and when you make mistakes in massive games like that they will be with you for the rest of your life, because people will remember them and keep reminding you of them.”

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