Looking at the frustrations of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City on deadline day, Liverpool fans could be forgiven for feeling a little smug about their summer transfer window, but has Jurgen Klopp really emerged as a winner here?
Having only scraped into fourth place last season, much work was needed on a leaky defence if the Reds were ever likely to mount a stronger title challenge this time around, whilst also coping with being back in the Champions League.
Despite some promising purchases, problems remain for Liverpool as they arguably don’t look a great deal stronger than last season, with key areas still made up of the same personnel who let them down at crucial moments.
Wins over Crystal Palace and Arsenal have calmed the nerves at Anfield, but that opening day horror-show against Watford should serve as a warning for Klopp, who looks to have neglected some vital areas in his squad once again.
Here’s our take on five questions Liverpool fans will want answers to from their manager after the passing of the transfer deadline…
Liverpool formally ended their interest in the Dutch defender after Southampton threatened to report them to the Premier League over the nature of their approach for him, but is there a chance of a revival of the deal?
Van Dijk seems absolutely determined to leave the Saints after handing in a transfer request, leading to him training away from the first-team towards the end of the summer.
While Chelsea and Manchester City have also been linked as possible suitors for the 26-year-old, Anfield seems to be his preferred destination, so surely the club will do their best to push this one through in January?
It’s all set up for Liverpool to take advantage as long as they pay his transfer fee, likely to be as high as £70million, but finances don’t look a big obstacle at the moment he clearly seems the preferred option for Klopp.
It must be said, however, that it is worrying for Liverpool that they failed to bring in the one player they targeted all summer long, with seemingly no backup option even considered.
Given the Reds could not strike a deal with Southampton, perhaps due to their lofty demands, could the club’s scouts really not find an affordable option anywhere in Europe?
Antonio Rudiger moved to Chelsea for around £34m, and his former Roma team-mate Kostas Manolas was also thought to be available for a similar amount, naming just two who could surely have improved what is clearly a problem position for Klopp’s side.
While it is commendable to set standards high and pursue the right player to suit the manager’s preferred system and style, it seems incredibly risky to have an all-or-nothing attitude towards a position in which Dejan Lovren is largely first choice, especially with Mamadou Sakho rather needlessly forced out to Crystal Palace having impressed on loan there last season.
Liverpool 2017/18 transfers
Where will Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain play?
Some may have questioned the wisdom of splashing out £40m on a player many would regard as about average, especially given he was in the final year of his contract, but what’s done is done.
Now Klopp has to work out how he actually plans to use Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who doesn’t stand out as a player likely to become first choice in any of the positions he can play in.
Liverpool’s attack is well stocked with the front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah enjoying a fine start to the season, while central midfield also looks strong with the likes of Emre Can, Georginio Wijnaldum and club captain Jordan Henderson, as well as Adam Lallana when he returns from injury.
The Ox played wing-back with some success last season, but Klopp’s current system doesn’t use them, and he doesn’t look ideally suited to play as a more specialist full-back, particularly as he’s unlikely to displace Nathaniel Clyne, and with left-back Andrew Robertson only just joining this summer.
Is there a plan for such an expensive signing? Because at the moment there doesn’t appear to be an obvious one at all.
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Reports suggest Philippe Coutinho had been preparing to go on strike for an entire season as he doesn’t want to pull on a Liverpool shirt ever again, which will make the next few months interesting, to say the least.
It’s clear the Brazilian wanted the move to Barcelona, and the way Liverpool have started you’d start to question the wisdom of keeping an unhappy player when the arrival of Salah in attack more or less gives the Reds an ideal replacement, with the front three barely missing the 25-year-old so far.
If Coutinho somehow manages to stick to his word and sit out the season, Liverpool will surely only be able to demand a fraction of what they could’ve got for him this summer, making this whole saga seem somewhat unnecessary.
Does Klopp really believe there’s much to be gained from keeping him, or even that he can somehow persuade Coutinho to stick around at Anfield for any longer than this season?
The transfer window was open for two whole months and it’s hard to remember a single goalkeeper being linked with Liverpool, which suggests, remarkably, that Klopp really had no targets in mind in that position.
Given the form of his two current shot-stoppers, and the fact that Simon Mignolet was dropped from the matchday squad altogether against Arsenal, suggests woeful planning on the Reds manager’s part in such a crucial area of the pitch.
While signings like Salah and Oxlade-Chamberlain have the potential to excite further forward, the failure to land a goalkeeper or centre-back when Liverpool had the worst defensive record in the top four last season just looks like plain negligence.
Let’s hope Klopp has seen some miraculous improvement from Loris Karius in training recently, because that’s what will be needed to excuse the lack of investment between the sticks.