Alisson Becker nears Liverpool switch and now club have no excuse but to challenge for Premier League title

Alex Rea 19/07/2018
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After agreeing a £66.9 million deal to sign goalkeeper Alisson Becker from Roma, Liverpool‘s summer transfer window is their biggest in size and stature.

The shopping spree has so far racked up a club-record bill of £174.13m, pushing Jurgen Klopp’s spending as Reds boss since joining the Merseyside outfit eight games into the 2015/16 Premier League season, past the £400m mark.

Indeed, eight of his top ten purchases as a manager, have now been acquired while in control of Liverpool’s purse strings and Alisson slots into a locked out top seven of Anfield arrivals.

And the German may not even be finished yet with a revival of their interest in Lyon playmaker Nabil Fekir still reportedly under consideration.

Eliminate the ‘netspend’ element for a moment and £100m more has been spent in the last three years combined, than in the three before that to clearly indicate Liverpool’s position among the elite.

However, the returns on that exponential investment has only yielded progress rather than tangible success. Granted, the green has bought silver in the form of three losing finals in Klopp’s tenure but gold is the only currency which matters for both the financial (owners Fenway Sports Group) and emotional (the supporters) investors.

Liverpool will own the world record for fees paid to sign a goalkeeper (Alisson) and a defender (Virgil Van Dijk), a sign of where the bulk of their deficiencies have formed.

And depth has been added to their midfield with six options for three spots opening up following the acquisitions of Naby Keita and Fabinho while Xherdan Shaqiri’s arrival means another bullet is in the gun further up the pitch.

Bury v Liverpool - Pre-Season Friendly

Suffice to say, in terms of talent, on paper 2018 is the best transfer year in the Liverpool’s history – think back to 2011 when Stewart Downing and Charlie Adam hallmarked their spending for justification of the progress made.

It’s not just money which has been emptied from their deep pockets, but excuses as well. Liverpool have perpetually been ‘one or two signings away’ from challenging for top honours and for once they have actually made all the right moves.

Klopp has a thrilling set of talented players at his disposal, stars who fit his philosophy and character profile. Loris Karius was an obvious weak link after his calamities in the Champions League final but with Alisson that problem is solved.

Van Dijk’s presence quickly fortified the defence – no one even mentions his fee now – and up front they are able to deploy the terrifying trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

Midfield was decimated by injuries but whereas Klopp was left counting how many bodies he had fit last season, now he requires an equation to pick his middle three.

It is no longer a question of whether the Reds can contend next season because they simply have to.

Primary targets signed plus big money spent equals enormous expectation and unlike previous campaigns when the aim of ending their long wait for a league title was more in hope than reality, now the narrative is different.

Liverpool should not be viewed as underdogs for the 2018/19 season because they’ve busted out a shiny diamond collar and have been bloated by the finest food.

They possess the pedigree to a mount a genuine challenge of Manchester City’s crown and showed domestically and in Europe last season their pure football style can counter that of Pep Guardiola’s and any other side for that matter.

And look at the business elsewhere.

The champions have so far only added Riyad Mahrez with their top midfield transfer target Jorginho joining Chelsea.

Their Manchester neighbours have fared little better this summer with Fred – who couldn’t displace Fernandinho or Casemiro for a single minute of action at the World Cup with Brazil – and young full-back Diogo Dalot their two headliners.

Chelsea are an unknown quantity as Maurizio Sarri replaced Antonio Conte in a chaotic turnaround and they are now bracing themselves for a potentially catastrophic trio of exits – Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid) and N’Golo Kante (Barcelona).

From the rest of last season’s top six, Arsenal have recruited well to supplement a stable of talented stars and could be an outside shout to contend if new boss Unai Emery can meld skill with will.

Tottenham, though, have not signed anyone with a new stadium and Harry Kane’s contract extension likely to be their biggest expenditures.

Yes, Liverpool were 25 points adrift of the runaway leaders City last season but with the injection of new talent, Klopp has more than enough capacity to close the gap.

They have acted like a big club in recent transfer windows, now it’s to produce results befitting of that reputation.

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Liverpool players won't fear new arrivals this summer, insists Jurgen Klopp

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Jurgen Klopp insists his players will welcome the help from new signings rather than fear competition.

Midfield trio Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri have arrived since the start of the transfer window and Klopp looks set to land goalkeeper Alisson from Roma, with the clubs having agreed a fee of 75 million euros (approximately £67million).

A hectic end to last season and a number of injuries left Liverpool’s resources thinly stretched, and the German is determined to avoid that this season.

Klopp said: “Maybe it is the first year we don’t sell a key player. There was always a lot of change, but in both directions. Now it is more in one direction. Big teams, successful teams, if you don’t buy it, you have to build it. That means stay together, bring additions in and make the next step.

“The team and squad is in a really good moment. We had the situation where we had 12 (senior) players (fit) – they know we need the depth in the squad. It is not like they say, ‘Bring in another midfielder? Why? We are all still here’.

“They know we need the quality and they know that if we win something here then we will win it with 25 players.

“In the whole period in the last two months of the season this club and this team came closer together because we had to fight like crazy. What the boys did in those last two months was exceptional.”

Italian website Forza Roma, which is affiliated to newspaper La Gazzetta Dello Sport, published a video on Wednesday that it said showed Alisson at Rome’s Ciampino airport preparing to board a private jet to Manchester and on his way to Liverpool for a medical on Saturday.

alisson 1

Alisson spoke in the video, saying: “Greetings to Roma fans. I’m sorry but I cannot say any more, I’ll say everything later.”

Alisson is expected to be the final new face through the door this summer but, although he has done his business relatively early, Klopp is facing difficulties preparing for the season with those players who reached the latter stages of the World Cup having a break before beginning their pre-seasons.

Klopp said: “I love the pre-season but I really loved the good old pre-season when you had all players together and you can train from the first day.

“In this moment we miss three or four offensive players. (Roberto) Firmino, Mo (Salah), Sadio (Mane) and Shaq (Shaqiri). It means an interesting challenge. Hendo (Jordan Henderson) is not in, Trent (Alexander-Arnold) is not in, Simon (Mignolet) is not in and Dejan (Lovren) will be the latest to come back.

“In terms of squad planning, I am really fine. In terms of football, we are in a good way but not where we want to be. A lot will come once the other boys are back. We will be fine at the end.”

Movement over the last few weeks of the transfer window is set to be away from Liverpool, with Klopp admitting others will join Jon Flanagan and Emre Can.

“Of course we have to,” he said. “We cannot go with 35-40 players. We need a lot of players but not 40.”

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain the latest to be struck by Liverpool injury curse over past year

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Oxlade-Chamberlain is set to miss majority of 2018-19 season.

Liverpool have announced midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is likely to miss the vast majority of the 2018-19 season due to the knee injury he sustained in April.

The 24-year-old England international sat out the end of last term and the World Cup after suffering what his club have described as “multiple ligament damage” in the Champions League semi-final first leg against Roma.

The Reds have had a number of significant injuries to contend with over the past year, and here Press Association Sport looks at what has been on the list.

JOEL MATIP

Matip’s last appearance of 2017-18 came in March, with the Cameroon centre-back sustaining a thigh injury against Crystal Palace and subsequently undergoing an operation. He made his return to action last week in a pre-season friendly at Bury.

Joel Matip hasn't played since March.

Joel Matip hasn’t played since March.

JOE GOMEZ

Gomez is another, like Oxlade-Chamberlain and Matip, whose season was ended prematurely by injury and surgery. The defender’s hopes of featuring at the World Cup – and the Champions League final – were dashed as he underwent an operation in early May to correct an ankle problem picked up while playing for England in March. He started Liverpool’s opening friendly of pre-season, a 7-0 win at Chester, on July 7.

Joe Gomez missed the Champions League final through injury.

Joe Gomez missed the Champions League final through injury.

EMRE CAN

Germany midfielder Can made what proved to be his final appearance for Liverpool, before moving on to Juventus this summer, in the Champions League final on May 26 having not played since March 17 because of a back injury.

Can's injury-riddled final season ended with a move to Juventus.

Can’s injury-riddled final season ended with a move to Juventus.

ADAM LALLANA

Lallana’s 2017-18 campaign did not start until November due to a thigh problem and, after making three starts and 10 substitute appearances thereafter, he went to South Africa in April for specialist treatment after a hamstring injury forced him off in the Palace match on March 31.

The midfielder went on to feature in Liverpool’s final two games of the season before missing out on going to the World Cup, having only made England’s five-man standby list for the tournament. He played and scored in a 3-2 friendly win over Tranmere last week.

Lallana has had rough luck with injuries during his Liverpool career.

Lallana has had rough luck with injuries during his Liverpool career.

NATHANIEL CLYNE

Clyne injured his back last summer and did not make his first appearance of last term until the goalless Merseyside derby draw at Everton in April. The right-back featured five times before the season concluded.

Nathaniel Clyne missed most of last season with injury.

Nathaniel Clyne missed most of last season with injury.

DANIEL STURRIDGE

The striker did not play for Liverpool again in 2017-18 after coming on as a substitute against Spartak Moscow on December 6, with a hamstring issue sidelining him before he moved to West Brom in January on loan for the rest of the season. Sturridge was forced off on his third appearance for the Baggies on February 12 with a hamstring problem and subsequently returned to action in April.

Daniel Sturridge's rotten luck with injuries continued.

Daniel Sturridge’s rotten luck with injuries continued.

ALBERTO MORENO

The Spanish full-back sustained an ankle injury in the Spartak Moscow match in December and was not back in the team until January 27.

Moreno lost his starting left-back berth due to form and injury last season.

Moreno lost his starting left-back berth due to form and injury last season.

SADIO MANE

Mane picked up a hamstring problem while on international duty with Senegal on October 7 and missed five Liverpool games before returning on November 4.

Sadio Mane missed a month during the first half of Liverpool's season.

Sadio Mane missed a month during the first half of Liverpool’s season.

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