Why Liverpool don't need to make big-money moves for the likes of Matthijs de Ligt and Nicolas Pepe

Alex Rea 19/06/2019
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Dutch team-mates Matthijs de Ligt and Virgil van Dijk

Never has such quiet spoken so much volume.

As Europe’s elite run around the continent seeking to pour as much cold cash on their inflamed heads, Liverpool have been decidedly chill.

Indeed, the pot of players rumouredly attached to the Reds has been comparatively empty so far, and although the possibility remains for a clandestine capture like Fabinho, it’s not as if Jurgen Klopp should really want to fish around for names anyway.

Yes, there will always be loose links to the club, after all, agents are at play as they seek to secure the best deal for their clients, perhaps using elite names like Liverpool to manufacture interest and by extension faux competition.

However, Liverpool have little need to engage in the transfer madness given the wildly distorted financial packages for talents like Ajax’s Matthijs de Ligt – said to be offered a weekly wage packet of £340,000 by Paris Saint-Germain – or Nicolas Pepe – valued at a staggeringly inflated £70 million by Lille.

The market is in a state of flux as it attempts to find true value following the shockwaves of recent summers, an environment incidentally Liverpool helped trigger by shattering record fees for a goalkeeper (£66.8m for Alisson Becker) and a defender (£75m for Virgil van Dijk).

And while money does talk, where the Reds are concerned, they have no reason to open the window and start screaming into the frenzy outside, their house is already in order.

Indeed, if the club were left in a position this summer needing to acquire a premier signing, it would indicate a problem within the XI.

But no such issue exists. For Klopp and the club, the necessary work has been completed and the panic has long subsided.

Instead, this summer is a period of personal development as opposed to external yearning because it’s about this group taking its next step, rather than adding a big name at the foot of the stairs.

In reality, 2018/19 was always meant to be a season in which Liverpool as a club packed on size.

That they were able to flex on the two biggest stages in the way they did, is perhaps a shock, yet it was always the destination, that it was reached quicker than initially expected in claiming the Champions League in Madrid and finishing so narrowly behind Manchester City, is a surprise in terms of time as opposed to result.

Granted, the minimum aim should have been to at least form a credible challenge to City and go deep again in Europe.

Those targets were ultimately surpassed, but that does not indicate the peak for this squad.

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Think about it. Last season was the first full campaign at Anfield for the likes of Van Dijk, Alisson and Fabinho. It was only the second for Mohamed Salah and Andy Robertson, and in so far as being an established senior star Trent Alexander-Arnold, too.

Peel back another layer and next season more will be expected from other freshman players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita. Even Jordan Henderson offers different characteristics having been pushed up the pitch and a fit-again Joe Gomez can legitimately show once again why he should be considered the world’s best young centre-back.

In terms of time with the team, relative squad veterans Roberto Firmino (27), Sadio Mane (27), Georginio Wijnaldum (28) and Joel Matip (27) enter next season and beyond in their prime years, as does Xherdan Shaqiri (27).

At the opposite end of the scale, 19-year-old Rhian Brewster is tipped for great things and will have the opportunity to justify the faith in his extolled ability while Divock Origi, still only 24, adds to the forward mix.

James Milner (33) is the only one aged above 30 who is used frequently and even he has the physical fitness of someone a decade younger.

That’s 18 players mentioned, all contenders to start, not even including Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana. Replacements are maybe required for the exits of Alberto Moreno and Daniel Sturridge, but only the former is really necessary.

City is no comparison either because Pep Guardiola’s aging squad necessitates a revamp. Liverpool are two years away from reaching that point and when the time comes for this cycle to end, the market will have calmed down.

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There is a theory that it’s better for teams to add more muscle when at their strongest, but there comes a point when it should be accepted, there’s just not much room to add before risking imbalance, especially when massive financial outlays dictate hierarchy.

For once, Klopp has the luxury of his top players remaining untouched, which means only the bottom end of the squad should be replenished.

If there’s one thing to glean from the fact Tottenham passed the 500-day mark without making an acquisition last week, it’s that signings aren’t always necessary, particularly for managers more focused on the training ground than the rumour mill.

For Mauricio Pochettino, it’s obvious that squad depth was needed, yet his first-choice XI is virtually untouchable.

Of course, now the complexion has changed because the team has reached the end of its cycle, but Liverpool have just begun theirs and Klopp has the numbers.

Ultimately, the German’s cake has been built, baked and decorated, now it’s time to eat rather than wait for more ingredients.

Make no mistake, though, the proof will be in the pudding next season.

The Premier League title should be the minimum target as are deep runs in all cup competitions.

This summer will likely be quiet from Liverpool’s perspective, and so it should be.

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Details emerge about how Liverpool and Chelsea fans can buy UEFA Super Cup tickets

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Mohamed Salah

Fans can apply for tickets for the UEFA Super Cup clash between Liverpool and Chelsea from Tuesday, Europe’s governing body has announced.

The two Premier League clubs – winners of the Champions League and Europa League respectively – face each other at Besiktas Park in Istanbul on August 14.

Tickets will range in price from €50 to €150 euros, with 78 per cent of the stadium’s 38,000 capacity being earmarked for supporters and the general public.

The remainder will be allocated to the local organising committee, UEFA and national associations, commercial partners and broadcasters.

A ballot will be held if demand exceeds supply.

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Virgil van Dijk says Liverpool are hungry for more success after Champions League win

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Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk insists he and the squad are hungry for more success after fulfilling the dream of winning the Champions League.

The Holland captain played a key role in the club’s run to their sixth European Cup with victory over Tottenham almost a fortnight ago, as well as being pivotal as the club reached a record Premier League runners-up tally of 97 points.

Van Dijk was rewarded with the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year award and was named man of the match in the Champions League final in Madrid.

“I’ve had a few days to reflect now at the end of what’s been an unbelievable season,” he wrote on Instagram.

“We achieved great things this season at Liverpool as a team and I feel proud to be part of such an incredible club with this group of players.

“To be European Champions is a dream come true! We are all now hungry for more success and will continue to give all we can to achieve that.

“I’m also excited about the future with the national team and we will look to build on the promising season we’ve just had.

“Thank you for all of your support over the last few months and I’ll see you after a break ready to go again!”

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