Don’t fix what isn’t broken. The old adage applies here.
Last season, Liverpool were among the most fearsome attacking sides in Europe and while they’ve strengthen their squad over the summer, it came at a price – and that isn’t just referring to the £168.25 million they splashed.
The new arrivals coupled with the growing familiarity between players who broke through last season has made for a far more stable unit. While they’ve also lost a little bit of what made them so unpredictable, the solidity gives them the look of serious title contenders.
There’s nothing like a renegade, high-profile young talent to come in and disrupt such harmony and at the moment, Ousmane Dembele is just that.
In the summer of 2017, the Frenchman became Barcelona‘s most expensive signing of all-time with his move from Borussia Dortmund costing them £135.5m with add-ons.
He’s shown glimpses of his extraordinary ability since but his time at Camp Nou has largely been blighted by injury and poor form.
Of late, Dembele’s attitude has been called into question with reports emerging of him showing up late for training or other events on multiple occasions. His poor diet has also been a cause for concern while he is known to play video games to the extent that it interferes with his professional life, something that’s also been hampered by his failure to learn enough Spanish.
Dembele completely ignoring all the reporters for the news the made up about him the past week is my new favourite thing 😂 pic.twitter.com/wQua0juEfR— Nãif ➰ (@NaifFCB_) November 22, 2018
Because of his blistering pace and mesmerising dribbling ability, Dembele seems like he would be a good fit on the pitch for Liverpool and that’s where most of the transfer speculation stems from. It also helps that Jurgen Klopp has previously worked with the 21-year-old at Dortmund.
However, that’s precisely why the German coach should be well-versed with the baggage Dembele brings along with him. The France international forced his way out of Dortmund rather unprofessionally, even trashing the house he was renting at the time, one owned by Klopp.
Liverpool’s front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are clearly there to stay with all three players extending their contracts in the last seven months. Xherdan Shaqiri has very carefully been bedded in but even then, the subtle tweaks to the team in shape and personnel has seen Mane and Firmino endure barren runs.
As of now, the trio are still functional and will no doubt return to firing on all cylinders but their modest form at the start of this season shows how easily that fluidity and telepathic understanding in the front line can be disrupted. Dembele has the potential to obliterate it.
The Reds may be tempted to get the better of Barcelona in the transfer market after the Catalans poached two of their finest players in Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho in recent years. The prospect of snapping up Dembele for a cut-price fee will certainly seem enticing for the Merseyside outfit.
However, what they’ve built under Klopp in the last 18 months or so is far more important. Anfield now proudly houses a side with serious strength in depth, a formidable starting line-up and perhaps most crucially, a genuinely happy squad brimming with team spirit.
Premier League clubs who would consider signing the Barcelona winger are those playing catch-up, who are willing to take a gamble to gain an edge – like Arsenal or Manchester United. Liverpool on the other hand, are engrossed in keeping pace with Manchester City at the top.
If tamed, the sky is the limit for a talent like Dembele but he’s not worth risking everything over. Liverpool must keep their eye on the prize and recognise the Barca bad boy as little more than an unwanted distraction.
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