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02nd Mar 2018

With the additions of Keita, Alisson and Jorginho, Liverpool would be genuine title contenders

Wayne Farry

Liverpool have had a frustrating season.

On the one hand, it has been a campaign of immense excitement and promise, exemplified by their breathtaking attacking football and relentless pace. On the other, it has been a reminder of the team’s seemingly ever-present deficiencies.

While it would be easy to lay the majority of the blame for this season’s issues predominantly on the defence, that would be unfair. Sure, their defenders and ‘keeper have had their moments in which they appear to forget that they are in control of their bodies, but more often than not this is due to how often the defensive quartet is left exposed.

The blame for this must lie squarely with the midfield. Repeatedly throughout this campaign the likes Emre Can and Jordan Henderson have failed to protect Liverpool’s defence, or offer it any discernible support.

This lack of protection is then exacerbated by a nervous defence playing in front of an unconvincing and sub-par goalkeeper, which way too often leads to disastrous consequences.

While this is evidently frustrating for Jurgen Klopp, as well as the fans and the team itself, there is one positive – Liverpool’s shortcomings are enormously obvious and, with the right acquisitions this summer, should soon be a thing of the past.

Liverpool appear to have already identified those targets, and signed one, in the form of Naby Keita while Alisson and Jorginho remain top of Klopp’s wishlist.

Looking at the team’s current issues, it is the midfield’s failure to shield things that is often their Achilles heal. Their counter-attacking play is a joy to behold but this remains a team without a true conductor in midfield to marshal the defence and make the simple yet incisive passes.

All too often Can – who is an admittedly good player – will be in a poor position to receive a pass played out from the back, before stretching, failing to get it and leaving a gap for the opposition attack to exploit.

If signed by Liverpool, Napoli’s Jorginho would do what Can is put there to do. Seemingly born to sit in front of the back four, the Brazilian-born Italy international is pacy and technically gifted, and would provide a significant upgrade on Can, whether or not the German signs a new contract.

Creating that fulcrum between defence and attack is a crucial area of the team, of any team, and it is one that the best teams have down to a tee. All one needs to do is look at Sergio Busquets at Barcelona, Fernandinho at Manchester City or Casemiro at Real Madrid to get an idea of the importance of having someone to break up play and move the ball on.

Jorginho has similar qualities to all three and like Busquets, is more creative than he may appear to the naked eye, with only Napoli’s front four of Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens, Jose Callejon and Marek Hamsik delivering more than his 32 key passes so far this season.

In Alisson too Liverpool would have what represents an immediate upgrade on what they already have. Mignolet and Karius are good on their day but neither can truly be trusted to go long periods without error, which leads to indecision and a lack of trust in Liverpool’s defence.

Bringing Roma’s Brazilian ‘keeper on board would, in theory, eliminate this concern. Just 25 years old and already Brazil’s number one (keeping out Man City’s Ederson, no less), Alisson has been a rock for Roma this season and has supplied the sort of calm assurance that Liverpool have been severely lacking since the departure of Pepe Reina.

Above all else, Klopp himself seems convinced and if rumours are to be believed, the player too is eager on the move.

Now no one is saying that these additions will eliminate Liverpool’s failings overnight but it would certainly address them and most importantly, address them with some of the best available players in the necessary positions.

This is exactly what, in the past, Liverpool have failed to do and it has led to the problems which persist to this day. The club’s management is well aware of this, hence its eagerness to push deals like Naby Keita’s through as quickly as possible.

If successful with the remaining two pursuits, there’s no reason why Liverpool won’t be Manchester City’s main challenger next season with a starting XI like this.