It’s just over two weeks since the joy and excitement of winning our sixth European Cup, and I’m going to enjoy that thought for a long time to come. But last season is well and truly over, and now we have that long wait, with nothing to do but enjoy the nice weather, and not think about football until next season starts. Well a lot of you might think so, but then for some of us it never really stops. There’s always something happening to keep us interested, whether that’s some international competition for some of our players, or other club business that gets reported in various media. There will be transfers, and rumours of transfers, with plenty of speculation and anticipation, so we keep checking the news and passing comments back and forth among us.
So far the only transfer news that can be confirmed is that a few players have been released (with no transfer fees required): Daniel Sturridge, Alberto Moreno, Adam Bogdan, and Connor Randall. No big surprises there. Meanwhile, two more players to be on the way out are Sheyi Ojo who will join Rangers on loan for the season, and according to reports Dejan Lovren will move to AC Milan if they agree to a fee of £25M. Nothing confirmed yet, but either way it looks like the Croatian will be gone before the window closes in August, as Matip and Gomez seem to be preferred partners for Van Dijk. Also, several reports say that Shaqiri would be sold, also if the price is right, as he was not used too much in the latter stages of the season with Origi being Klopp’s preferred (and definitely effective) option. So we’ll have to wait patiently and see what’s to come.
No news yet on players to be added to the squad, and you might say “what’s the hurry?” seeing as how we have a strong squad now and don’t really need any new signings. But, looking back over successive seasons of winning trophies, there’s always a need to be improving. For me, I’d like to see a few players brought in to strengthen the squad. First, a back-up keeper to be ready to step in whenever Alisson needs a rest. Rumours began that Cardiff’s Neil Etheridge was a target, but then a couple of days ago it was Southampton’s Alex McCarthy as the first choice. Next up I still say we need to be more solid in central defence, and there was at least some hope that we might be in with a good chance of signing Virgil’s Dutch international partner De Ligt from Ajax, but that seems to have faded away with latest reports having him linked with several clubs, including Juventus, PSG, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, and Barcelona. Apparently he has said no to any offer from Man Utd., confirming he wants to play for a club competing in the Champions League. For midfield we’re possibly not as needy, with an excellent squad of versatile players to choose from, but as always we should never turn down the chance to sign any player who would improve the squad. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be ready for the new season, and has agreed to a contract extension, so that’s almost like signing a new player already. Up front we have the preferred three of Sadio Mane, Mo Salah, and Roberto Firmino, plus Divock Origi and a few youngsters hoping to get a chance to prove themselves ready to step up. But again, why wouldn’t we sign a proven goal scorer if we had the opportunity? It would be useful to have a player ready to be rotated with the other three when needed.
Just a few of the players rumoured to be on the list of possible signings for Liverpool include Lyon’s Nabil Fekir, Lille’s Nicolas Pepe, Leipzig’s Timo Werner, Sporting’s Bruno Fernandes, and Napoli’s Koulibaly, just to name a few. A couple of surprising but interesting rumours are that Barcelona are willing to let Ousama Dembele go if Liverpool want to pay around £93M, and Lyon’s Memphis Depay is reportedly interested in partnering up at Liverpool with his Dutch and former PSV Eindhoven team-mate Gini Wijnaldum. All of these are of course rumours, with nothing confirmed or denied (as of today) but I’ll be keeping a watch out for transfer news each day, and taking the stories with appropriate sized grains of salt until I see the actual signing.
Coming Soon: The Fast and the Furious – Fixtures for 2019-20.
The Premier League doesn’t seem to have finished all that long ago, and already we’re looking at next season’s schedule, with the fixture list released last week. Our first game is at home to newly promoted Norwich (August 9th) with our last game of the season being away at Newcastle (May 17th). Some of the ones to watch for are:
Big Six dates:
- Arsenal (H) August 24th
- Chelsea (A) Sept 21st
- Man U (A) Oct 19th
- Tottenham (H) Oct 26th
- Man City (H) November 9th
- Tottenham (A) January 11th
- Man U (H) Jan 18th
- Man City (A) Aril 4th
- Arsenal (A) May 2nd
- Chelsea (H) May 9th
- Everton (H) Dec 4th
- Everton (A) March 14th
Before any of those, we have a few pre-season warm-up friendlies:
- July 11th Tranmere Rovers (Prenton Park)
- July 14th Bradford City (Northern Commercial Stadium)
- July 20th Borussia Dortmund (Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana)
- July 21st Sevilla (Fenway Park, Boston)
- July 25th Sporting CP (Yankee Stadium, New York)
- July 28th Napoli (Murrayfield, Edinburgh)
- July 31st Olympique Lyonnais (Stade de Geneve, Geneva)
And, let’s not forget a couple of early trophies to go for:
- August 4th FA Community Shield, vs Man City (Wembley)
- August 14th UEFA Super Cup, vs Chelsea (Besiktas Park, Istanbul)
Also, the Champions’ League Group Stage draw will take place August 29th, with the first of six games to be played September 17th or 18th.
We’re all About Winning Trophies
I’d really like to see us compete for more silverware next season, with not only the Premier League and Champions League as clear priorities, but why not aim for success and trophies in the League Cup and FA Cup? For that we need strength in the squad to share the duties among them, so those possible transfers become all that more important to watch for. We only really have a few weeks to go before we’re starting out with our first competitive game on Sunday August 4th – the Community Shield at Wembley against Manchester City. That’s followed a few days later with our Premier League opener on Friday August 9th, at home to newly promoted Norwich. If that wasn’t busy enough, we then travel to Istanbul for the UEFA Super Cup vs. Chelsea on Wednesday August 14th, returning for an away trip to Southampton on Saturday August 17th. That’s an opportunity for two trophies and a solid start to the Premier League within a space of less than two weeks.
One relief for the players will be in February with a short winter break, but that won’t come until we’ve also traveled to Qatar for the FIFA Club World Cup semi-final in early December, then hopefully a successful final a few days later. We also have the usual fixture congestion around late December, not to mention the 3rd round of the FA Cup early in January. If we make progress in the League Cup as well, then that’s going to be a lot of games before any chance of a rest in February. By then we will have played 25 Premier League, 6 Champions League, and at least five trophy/cup games (hopefully more!) adding up to a minimum of 36 games already. If we want to be there competing for the big ones next May, we have to avoid injuries and fatigue, and so in my mind, there’s no doubt that we need to have a bigger and stronger squad ready for the marathon season ahead.
© Keith Perkins 2019-06-18