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Jürgen Klopp admission should lead to two transfers as Cody Gakpo not enough for Liverpool vision

As the fixture schedule becomes more and more intense with each year, Jürgen Klopp says he wants to have two Liverpool XIs of comparable strength at his disposal.

 

It’s clear that you need real quality in all positions, and probably two teams on the same level, if you want, so that you can rotate,” Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp said in his press conference ahead of the trip to Brentford.

 

The Reds have just added another forward to their ranks in PSV Eindhoven’s Cody Gakpo for a fee of around £40m ($48m/€45m) but are now coming under pressure from supporters to bolster their midfield. Here, we assess whether Klopp does have ‘two teams on the same level’ and, if not, how many players he needs to realise that vision.

 

The back five

First choice: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konaté, Van Dijk, Robertson

 

Second-choice: Kelleher; Ramsay, Matip, Gomez, Tsimikas

 

Caoimhín Kelleher doesn’t compare to Alisson in terms of quality, but that’s because the Brazilian is arguably the best goalkeeper in the world. In truth, it’s hard to imagine Liverpool finding a much better back-up, both in terms of ability and stylistic suitability.

Right now, there’s a bigger gulf between Trent Alexander-Arnold and summer signing Calvin Ramsay, with James Milner and Joe Gomez serving as interim solutions when Alexander-Arnold is unavailable, but the gap should be closing all the time. The hope will be that Ramsay can reach the level of Kostas Tsimikas, the perfect number two option, within the next couple of years.

As for centre-backs, there’s very little to separate Ibrahima Konaté and Joël Matip and, while Gomez has been inconsistent, he still completes arguably the strongest four-man rotation in world football.

The midfield

 

First choice: Fabinho, Elliott, Thiago

 

Second choice: Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Keïta

 

Here we come to perhaps the first outstanding weakness in the side. Henderson’s struggles against Leicester City on Friday, particularly in a woeful first half, pointed to his inadequacy as a back-up to Fabinho. He has had good moments in that position, but the bottom line is that Liverpool could do with a specialist.

And you could argue that the right centre midfield role needs to be addressed too, because Oxlade-Chamberlain simply cannot be relied upon to deliver a strong enough performance after his succession of injuries. The hope will be that the Reds can sign Jude Bellingham to play this position for more than a decade, but he must still be adequately supported.

 

Naby Keïta, meanwhile, can be an excellent deputy to Thiago on the left, but it’s rare that both players are available.

 

Liverpool do have four other midfield options to choose from in Curtis Jones, James Milner, Fábio Carvalho and Arthur, but that gives only an illusion of depth. There are too few players in their prime and in good health.

 

The frontline

 

First choice: Salah, Núñez, Díaz

 

 

Second choice: Jota, Firmino, Gakpo

 

The arrival of Gakpo has furnished Klopp with what looks like world-beating attacking depth, with six elite-level options at his disposal.

 

The only question you might pose is whether Liverpool need another player who’s more accustomed to playing on the right wing, offering a more effective alternative to Mohamed Salah.

 

Diogo Jota can play there and Gakpo may be asked to do so occasionally, but both prefer to be stationed on the left or indeed through the middle.

 

Perhaps the club are hoping one of their promising academy talents like Ben Doak or Kaide Gordon can come through and take on that role in the coming years, avoiding the need for another transfer.

 

The verdict

Overall, you’d probably say that Klopp is at least two players short of reaching his stated benchmark — a defensive midfielder and a number eight. That number may yet increase to three because four of the 10 midfield options could feasibly leave in the summer at the end of their contracts.

And with the calendar becoming ever-more intense, the reality is that the Reds need to be deeper than ever to compete for the biggest prizes.

 

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