Friday, August 5, 2022

Liverpool Predictions 2022-23: Nunez and Salah are magic but this team still looks second best

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Daniel Storey reviews the summer transfer business, looks at the challenges ahead and predicts where the club will end up as part of his season preview for all 20 Premier League clubs

Continuity seems to be Liverpool’s greatest strength. Jurgen Klopp has the ability to tweak his first-choice team and upgrade and refresh various parts of it without the machine itself ever seeming to take a hit. If that’s not enough to make them favorites for the title, that’s only because of who they’re up against and not Liverpool.

Read Daniel Storey’s previews for all 20 Premier League clubs here

The sale of Sadio Mané, the club’s first major departure since Philippe Coutinho’s move to Barcelona, ​​should be seen as a strength. Liverpool have signed Darwin Nunez and also secured Mo Salah’s future. That leaves one position in the team for Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz, Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho. That is much.

The financial sense of making such an attractive deal for Salah at this age can only be judged in hindsight, but it creates a strong sense of purpose at Liverpool. If this is truly going to be the last few years of the Salah era at Anfield, with all the riches and trinkets it has spawned, it’s time to squeeze every drop of her majesty.

That can only mean another title attack. While the Premier League’s top four race looks incredibly tight with Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal all enjoying either new owners, new managers or new marquee signings, Liverpool have a right to believe they are on their own specific Sitting level: better than the rest, a smidgen below the best.

There are so few. In one fell swoop, Mane’s departure could be said to unravel one of the most devastating combinations in Premier League history. He and Salah have provided 109 goals and 44 assists in the last three seasons in league football alone. For all the whispers about the complexities of their working relationship, Mane and Salah were a Premier League tour de force. Breaking that up, even with the extra recruits, will always involve some risk. We suspect Liverpool are doing well.

Elsewhere, the midfield’s age profile will eventually require some work. Seven different players appeared in central midfield for Liverpool in five or more league games last season – three of them (Henderson, Milner, Thiago) are over 30 and all but one are 27 or over. That’s really not a problem now – we’re reaching for potential weaknesses in a squad that hardly has any – but it requires a similar strategy to that used on the front three of Firmino, Mane and Salah.

That being said, the only things that can seriously derail Liverpool this season are serious injuries to key players (but the same is true for most clubs). For all the depth in the squad, Trent Alexander-Arnold’s energy down the right flank, Fabinho’s brilliance holding his position in midfield and Virgil van Dijk’s defensive leadership are all crucial to Liverpool’s long unbeaten runs. Klopp is not the only manager who will look through his fingers at the World Cup.

Nunez came out of nowhere but made a lot more sense once it became clear that Sadio Mane envisioned moving to Bayern Munich as the final big step of his career. Nunez joins Carvalho as a new signing (although the latter is one for the future) and leaves Liverpool with a range of attacking options.

Had you been asked in November 2021 a midfielder would have been high on Liverpool’s list. But then Thiago fit for a consistent period and played a crucial role in Liverpool’s form both domestically and in Europe. That allows them to rest for a while before presumably pushing on Jude Bellingham next summer, a move that makes so much sense it hurts.

The only other summer signing was Aberdeen right-back Calvin Ramsay, who fits perfectly with Liverpool’s recruitment strategy because he is a) young, b) highly rated, c) hasn’t cost them that much and d) will be happy being the understudy to a brilliant player in his position. They know what they’re doing, you know.

Rock solid like concrete. Unlike Mo Salah, Liverpool were able to quickly extend Klopp’s contract before he stayed less than two years from expiration, prompting unhelpful whispers about him taking a sabbatical. Klopp’s contract now runs until the summer of 2026, when he will be almost 60 and potentially on a break.

But until then he stays. It’s hard to imagine many super-club managers who could potentially finish eighth next season and still retain fans’ trust, but Klopp is certainly one. That won’t happen, but it’s a measure of his excellent work that Liverpool are now normalized as title challengers and Champions League heavyweights.

It’s boring, but it’s boring because it’s obvious. You will be scarce again. 2

The Score is Daniel Storey’s weekly assessment of the performance of all 20 Premier League teams. Sign up here to receive the newsletter every Monday morning this season

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