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Liverpool cant avoid £180m truth about current squad – Liverpool Echo

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Conventional wisdom pinpoints the summer of 2018 as the real turning point for Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp.

An upwardly mobile and free-scoring Reds side had slotted in one sizable piece of the jigsaw just a few months earlier in the form of Virgil van Dijk.

But as the club surveyed the fallout from their Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid, decisive action was quickly taken.

Within days, Fabinho had arrived for £40million before Naby Keita, whose signature was already secured the year previous, joined alongside Xherdan Shaqiri and, most spectacularly of all, Alisson Becker, for a then world record of £65m.

Liverpool would quickly go from challengers to champions.

By the end of the following season they were a whisker away from a Premier League and Champions League double.

Ending their domestic campaign as runners-up with 97 points, the Reds would be crowned champions of Europe for a sixth time three weeks later in Madrid.

The foundation of that success was down, in no small part, to the significant additions of Van Dijk, Alisson and Fabinho.

Those three players – and their subsequent exploits – give credence to the theory that the calendar year of 2018 was one of the most fruitful in the modern era where the transfer market is concerned.

Big-money deals have not always worked out perfectly at Anfield, but Alisson, Van Dijk and Fabinho have been spectacular successes.

Three years on, with Liverpool’s status as champions of England, Europe and the world now consigned to the recent past, the Reds, to some, appear in need of a repeat.

For Klopp, himself, talk of rebuilding his Liverpool squad is excessive, though.

After all, his team will look at lot more potent and full of zest when the likes of Van Dijk, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and captain Jordan Henderson are available for selection once more.

“Rebuild? No,” he said in late February. “What is ‘rebuild’ exactly? Rebuild means 10 out, 10 in? Changes to which XI?

“I know what you mean but I don’t think it is time for a massive rebuild like how I understand it: six, seven out, running contracts but trying to get rid of them and bring in all the new faces.

“The squad of this year didn’t have the chance to play together one time really.

“I think it would make sense to have a look at that but on top of that, of course little readjustments will happen.”

Since those words, though, circumstances have changed.

Liverpool are now confronted with a different set that might see those “little adjustments” become rather more grand ones.

Take, for example, the Reds side that was knocked out of the Champions League quarter-final by Real Madrid on Wednesday night.

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Ozan Kabak, a player who was hurriedly whisked through on loan to help ease a genuine centre-back crisis on transfer deadline day, was the most recent arrival in the team.

The young Turk aside, the last one through the door in Wednesday night’s team was Alisson, who signed for the club in July 2018.

The first two substitutes of the night, Diogo Jota and Thiago Alcantara, have of course added depth and quality to the Reds’ ranks.

They were the two standout signings of last summer, joining for a combined fee of around £70m.

But the fact that neither started the biggest game of the campaign was proof of how reliant Klopp has become, rightly or wrongly, on the same crop of players.

Which brings us neatly to the summer transfer window.

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A whole host of fringe players may see their futures called into question, but on the incoming front, work needs to be done too.

The 10 per cent investment of RedBird Capital into the Fenway Sports Group portfolio gives the club the opportunity to at least enter the market with a certain level of bombast.

Liverpool are not suddenly awash with the cash that will allow them to stump up world-record fees, but they will be able to operate at the same standard as they were prior to the pandemic taking hold.

That, then, may enable sporting director Michael Edwards to pursue the sort of game-changing additions he brought in back in 2018.

The sort of players who Klopp will be confident of trusting when the season’s biggest fixtures arrive in front of him.

The school of thought inside the club is that the side will once again be competing at the top of English and European football when the injury list, particularly at centre-back, subsides.

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That will also mean Thiago and Jota are able to play with the full complement of players who won the title by 18 points just last year.

It’s a thought process that holds weight, but after three years at full pelt with the same squad, quality over quantity should be the objective in this summer’s market.

This Liverpool wheel does not yet need reinventing, but some new tyres can help them re-gain their grip for next season.

After all, they have seen what can happen when big investments come off.

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