By 90Min
May 30, 2018

If you got an early night on Monday, you may have missed the first major piece of transfer business done this summer.

Fabinho's move to Liverpool escalated at such a phenomenal rate that viewers were left stunned, with mouths wide open and hands tearing out hair all over when the Reds officially announced the Brazilian had signed a long-term deal.

Just two days after the Champions League final, in which Jurgen Klopp's side lost in perhaps the most heartbreaking way, with Mohamed Salah going off injured and Loris Karius making two horrific blunders, Liverpool have shown their intent ahead of next season.

Sure, fans of the Anfield club are often beaten with the 'next year is our year' stick, but it's frightening to see how quickly they have identified targets, pursued them vehemently and got them. Take the signing of Virgil van Dijk, for example.

Before the Dutchman signed, Liverpool's defence was a laughing stock. It still gets a fair bit of criticism, considering it still harbours the likes of Karius and Dejan Lovren, the latter of which actually had a great game on Saturday, but ultimately Klopp and his staff saw a hole in their team and filled it with one of the best available players out there.

Of course, £75m is a hell of lot of money, especially if you consider Van Dijk might not even make the top ten centre backs in the world currently (Ramos, Chiellini, Vertonghen, Hummels, Pique, Godin, Bonucci, Alderweireld, Koulibaly and Boateng would all have opinions on that particular subject). However regardless, he was brought in to organise that back line, and Liverpool have undoubtedly improved.

Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

In their last 17 Premier League games, they conceded 14 goals, a better record in the same timespan than champions Manchester City and Tottenham, who had Vertonghen included in the PFA Team of the Year and Davinson Sanchez roundly praised for an impressive breakout campaign.

So defensively, they're sound. Ish. Another area we saw Liverpool suffer in towards the end of the season was central midfield.

Where Philippe Coutinho, Emre Can and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had previously run riot, the Steady Eddie trio of Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner and Jordan Henderson ended up starting the Champions League final. Individually, they're fine players, but there isn't enough dynamism there to realistically challenge a team like Real Madrid

SERGEI SUPINSKY/GettyImages

That's when things start to get a little worrying, if you're a fan of a fellow top six club. The likes of Milner and Henderson will most likely get binned off next season and replaced by Naby Keita, a player of immense ball-carrying skill with an urge to get into the box, and Fabinho, a talented passer not afraid to put his foot in.

What's worrying about the incoming duo is that they'll give the Reds some much-needed depth. Can will be off this summer, most likely to sign for Juventus, but supporters won't be bothered in the slightest now they've signed not one, but two midfielders better than the Germany international. 

We saw during the season that Liverpool can more than match Premier League champions Manchester City. After the 5-0 loss at the Etihad, Liverpool turned things around and bested Pep Guardiola's side firstly 4-3 in the league before the alarmingly simple dismantling of the Citizens in the Champions League, 5-1 on aggregate.

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Where it went wrong for the Reds in the league was their lack of ruthlessness in certain games, which seems astonishing to say about a team that scored 84 goals in the competition. Liverpool drew a massive 12 league games, dropping points to sides like Everton, West Brom and Stoke at Anfield, and Watford and Newcastle away from home.

Liverpool have finished fourth in the last two seasons, which may not seem like progress, but they're undoubtedly well equipped to head into the next term to challenge Manchester City for the Premier League title.

They won't have it their own way, with Manchester United, who people seem to forget finished second because their team performed better than Liverpool's, and Tottenham likely to put up stern fights, while Chelsea will come roaring back as they always do. Who knows what Arsenal will do, but they still look the weakest of the top six and unlikely to challenge at the top.

With an improving defence, dynamic midfield and deadly attack, Liverpool have all the tools to make the 2018/19 campaign a truly remarkable one, especially if they sign a half-decent goalkeeper. Just don't tell their fans. They'll never shut up about it.

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