With football’s summer transfer window in full-swing, the rumor mill is relentlessly churning and Liverpool have been linked with a large swath of players spanning many different positions on the pitch.
Not every LFC transfer rumor is credible though, so the better use of time might be to identify the position at which Liverpool need strengthening the most.
Liverpool decidedly do not need help at the center-half position. After the signing of Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig, the emergence last season of Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams, and the off-season recoveries of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, and Joel Matip, Liverpool have arguably the best group of center-backs in Europe. I
ronic, given that manager Jurgen Klopp was forced to play midfielders Jordan Henderson and Fabinho at center-back during the 2020-2021 season to balance an injury ravaged squad, but true.
Liverpool’s full-back position also seems well taken care of. Left-back Andy Robertson featured in all 38 of the club’s Premier League matches last season, while right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold featured in 36 of the 38.
The creative tandem have suitable backups in Kostas Tsimikas and Neco Williams, respectively, and the tireless James Milner is able to slot in at fullback when needed. A cheap signing to bolster the fullback position might be wise to pursue, but isn’t absolutely necessary.
Despite the departure of Georginio Wijnaldum to PSG, Liverpool are still quite solid in the midfield. Captain Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara will likely be the three players that Klopp chooses to start in his 4-3-3. Naby Keita, Curtis Jones and the aforementioned Milner will likely feature off the bench.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Xherdan Shaqiri are typically deployed as forwards these days - Oxlade-Chamberlain has been used in the false-nine role this preseason - but both can play as creative midfielders when called upon. A signing or two to round out the group is necessary but not as important as finding a new striker.
Striker Roberto Firmino’s goal tally has been steadily declining since his incredible 2017-2018 season, in which he netted 27 goals and provided 17 assists in 54 appearances.
To view Firmino’s contributions only through the lens of goal contributions would be unfair to the Brazilian. However, Firmino is an incredibly unselfish playmaker, known for dropping between the lines and linking up play between the midfield and the rest of the front three.
He also has extremely high work-rates for a striker, eager to press and track back when necessary. Plus, he should have a better season than last, with a fully-fit squad around him in 2021-22. That said, Liverpool need more firepower up front, even if it comes from the bench.
Diogo Jota proved last season to be a great signing, and he will surely challenge for a starting role this season. Beyond Jota, though, the famed front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Firmino have little depth behind them.
Shaqiri is an able playmaker that relishes big matches but has never fully broken into the rotation during his time at Liverpool. He’s also rumored to be looking for a move this summer.
Liverpool cult-hero Divock Origi will also likely be moved on before the end of August. Takumi Minamino has obvious potential but has not yet bloomed into a "Big 6" caliber forward. Oxlade-Chamberlain is injury prone and unproven in the false-nine role, and Harvey Elliot, although he’s shown signs of superstar potential, has only just turned 18.
So, either a savvy veteran or a young talent would be wise to sign; someone that is content not featuring in every match but talented enough to genuinely challenge Salah, Mane, Firmino and Jota for minutes.
A true number nine would be ideal. One that is versatile enough to play out wide when needed would be even better.
So, while a cheap fullback or creative midfielder would be useful additions to the squad, Liverpool need a pure goalscorer, one that is immediately ready for Premier League football, more than anything else.