Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has six undroppables but should sell 10 stars in busy summer

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has six undroppables but should sell 10 stars in busy summer (Image: GETTY)

Liverpool’s summer plans could be heavily impacted as the Reds prepare for the possibility of being without Champions League football at Anfield. Their best chance of being in it next season may be to win a seventh European Cup this term but if they fail to do so, to be without the lure and financial benefit Europe’s premier competition could severely restrict Liverpool from freshening up and improving their squad as much as they’d like before the 2021-22 season.

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Liverpool have been decimated by injuries this season, which have played a significant part in the sorry defence of their Premier League crown and the fact they could genuinely finish as low as eighth, ninth or even 10th.

And so Jurgen Klopp will be delighted to welcome back the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip next term, but performances in midfield and up top have indicated work needs to be done with his squad even after the returns of injured players.

The German has had to deal with several underperforming players this term, some of whom he will hope can rediscover their best form in a full-strength team next term while others could be axed or see their role within the squad change.

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Express Sport looks at the shape of the Liverpool squad heading into the summer transfer window, where Klopp may be targeting additions in the final third and in midfield in particular, and considers the players who boast undroppable status at the club and those who could be loaned out and sold.

MUST READ: Jurgen Klopp has told FSG exactly what he wants from summer signings

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has six undroppables but should sell 10 stars in busy summer

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has six undroppables but should sell 10 stars in busy summer (Image: GETTY)

The undroppables

Alisson remains one of the very best goalkeepers in world football despite some high-profile mistakes last month and won’t be dropped as No 1 any time soon, while Van Dijk is arguably the best centre-back on the planet – his return to full fitness will be most certainly welcome.

At left-back, Andy Robertson has been an ever-present in the Premier League this term while others succumb to injury around him and remains integral.

Once their central defenders are back fit, the returns of Fabinho and Jordan Henderson to midfield will be crucial to offering Liverpool better shape and structure as well as intensity in and out of possession – whenever available, they will start.

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And although Liverpool have struggled as a team, Mohamed Salah still stands on 17 goals from 27 league games as he chases a third Premier League Golden Boot – and 24 across all competitions.

His continually outrageous output means he has to start every game, provided he doesn’t leave in the absence of Champions League football.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has six undroppables but should sell 10 stars in busy summer

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has six undroppables but should sell 10 stars in busy summer (Image: GETTY)

The regulars 

Van Dijk is the only centre-back with nailed-on starting status with Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Ozan Kabak – if he is signed permanently from Schalke or if another defender is signed to take his place – the other main options. All three should get regular enough game time across competitions, especially if injuries strike again.

While Robertson is undroppable, Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back has had a really disappointing 2019-20 season until now and cannot be considered the same. More performances like his current showings and though he’s by far the best in his position at the club, Neco Williams or James Milner could get a few games there.

Still, Alexander-Arnold should start most matches while Thiago Alcantara will hope that playing alongside Fabinho and Henderson in the middle can hope him to discover form, having been one of many to struggle in 2021.

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Naby Keita’s role as a regular is entirely fitness permitting and 2021-22 may be his last chance to prove he can be an asset at Liverpool. If he continues to break down too regularly, he could be moved on.

Curtis Jones has meanwhile been one of Liverpool’s brightest performers this term and the local-born attack-minded midfielder will only grow in stature in the years to come.

With Salah still posting impressive numbers, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have been well below-par this term and as a result, cannot be considered undroppable. That’s because Diogo Jota is capable of displacing either of the duo as a starter and will hope to get back to the goalscoring form he was pre-injury. 

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If he plays in the same vein next year and avoids fitness setbacks, Mane and Firmino need to up their game to avoid being benched.

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has six undroppables but should sell 10 stars in busy summer

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has six undroppables but should sell 10 stars in busy summer (Image: TIERMAKER)

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has six undroppables but should sell 10 stars in busy summer

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has six undroppables but should sell 10 stars in busy summer (Image: GETTY)

The rotationals

With Alisson unquestionably the starting goalkeeper whenever fit, Caoimhin Kelleher has emerged as the second-choice and the young Irishman has fared well whenever called upon. He should retain that role next season and can expect to be the cup keeper.

In central defence, similarly Nat Phillips has been a solid understudy and should have his contract extended to keep him at the club as the fifth choice central defender.

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Ben Davies is the sixth choice and though he has yet to play a single minute, given he was only signed in January, will probably have a season of warming the bench before a decision is made in regards to his long-term future.

At left-back and right-back Kostas Tsimikas and Neco Williams will fill in here and there, with the Greek hoping to stay fit to provide a sterner challenge to Robertson.

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In midfield, veteran James Milner still has a role to play despite recently turning 35 and should see out the final year of his contract before leaving on a free.

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is entering a critical point of his career but to be fair to the England international, has rarely started this season. He needs more starting minutes before his worth can truly be judged – and he chipped in with a decent amount of goals across all competitions in the title-winning 2019-20 campaign.

Given Firmino’s dire form, Takumi Minamino could emerge as a valuable option through the middle if he can improve his effectiveness off of the ball while on loan at Southampton. He should return from the Saints ready to have an impact.

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The loanees

Kamil Grabara is currently out on loan in Denmark, arguably a step back after playing in the Championship last season, but at 22 the Pole is still finding his feet as a senior so should be given another year away from Anfield before reassessing his long-term pathway.

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Sepp van den Berg will hopefully enjoy a full season out on loan at Preston having joined the Lilywhites in January after Liverpool signed Davies.

Klopp has shown he rates Rhys Williams but the 19-year-old desperately needs a season of regular game time in the English Football League, perhaps in League One or League Two.

Harvey Elliott has starred in the Championship with Blackburn and has a big future ahead of him but if Liverpool recruit another elite-level attacker in the summer, the minutes for the 17-year-old on Merseyside will only be sparing.

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He would benefit more from another year at Ewood Park, or perhaps a season at a team in the bottom half of the Premier League.

SIMILAR STORY: Man Utd boss Solskjaer has five undroppables but must sell seven stars

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has six undroppables but should sell 10 stars in busy summer

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has six undroppables but should sell 10 stars in busy summer (Image: GETTY)

The departures

Liverpool’s current campaign has shown they have several members of the squad no longer contributing to the level needed and a lack of Champions League football would mean a greater volume of sales to free up cash for Klopp.

Adrian is at the end of his contract and should be allowed to leave with Kelleher in front of him, while Loris Karius needs a fresh start even though he would be a solid enough rival to Kelleher behind Alisson.

In midfield, Marko Grujic appears unlikely to ever make it at Liverpool despite his obvious promise. The Serbian has struggled for starts at Porto but the Reds might be able to sell him for up to £15m.

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Gini Wijnaldum is the highest-profile departure but clearly Liverpool are not willing to pay him the wages he wants and without a top-four finish, that’s unlikely to change. He’s likely to depart on a free – but the club have to make sure they replace him suitably. Brighton’s Yves Bissouma has been mentioned as potential successor.

Ben Woodburn, Sheyi Ojo and Harry Wilson are all attackers with great quality in their own right but none of the trio are the level needed at Liverpool and perhaps £20-25m can be accrued by their sales.

Xherdan Shaqiri is a few levels above those three but is somewhat of a luxury player given he lacks the pace and mobility to be a starting wide-man for Liverpool. Instead he’s been best used as an attacking midfielder but the Swiss is worthy of more minutes elsewhere, and a parting of ways seems sensible for £15m or so.

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Taiwo Awoniyi has fared relatively well in the Bundesliga and the Nigerian is still just 23, and now qualifies for a work permit, but will surely be sold to Germany permanently.

Divock Origi should also be axed by Liverpool, having barely made an impact this term. The Belgian made a big impact in 2018-19 but since, his contributions have waned dramatically and Klopp needs a more effective fifth-choice attacker. Origi is still good enough to command a £15m fee.



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