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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Paul Gorst

Liverpool's quiet rebuild is clear and two transfer targets show it

One of the main accusations levelled at Liverpool during a season of underperformance is how they have allowed themselves to stagnate.

To many, the Reds have too often declined the opportunity to refresh and replenish their options significantly at key junctures and a quick glance at the makeup of the squad at Jurgen Klopp's disposal backs up that theory to an extent.

Six of the starting line-up from May's Champions League final were signed between 2016-18, while Jordan Henderson joined well over a decade ago, back in June 2011. This season, players like Andy Robertson (2017), Virgil van Dijk and Alisson (both 2018) remain vital to Klopp, while 2017 addition Mohamed Salah was handed the biggest contract in club history last summer having just turned 30.

READ MORE: Liverpool's January transfer window winners and losers as Jurgen Klopp task made harder

READ MORE: 'I'm not sticking the knife in' - Gary Neville speaks out on Liverpool and FSG transfer spending

It's easy to see why Liverpool are being told that they have made the wrong call in keeping together the bulk of the current squad, particularly when new contracts were handed to Van Dijk, Alisson, Henderson, Fabinho, Robertson and Henderson across the summer of 2021 and it was a theme the legendary Robbie Fowler touched upon in a recent chat with the ECHO.

"I think Jurgen is well within his rights to think they can progress and grow and when you are building strong teams - or when you're top of the league - it's about strengthening in the areas you think [you need it]," Fowler said. "Or not even the areas, just strengthening all aspects of the side.

"That is one of the things that I think annoys me now more with football clubs is actually you're looking at players to come in and I don't even think you're looking at specific positions, I think you should be bringing players in just to keep everyone on their toes.

"If you're resting on your laurels, if you like, then someone can come in and take your place in the team and do that job to make it hard for you to get back into the team," he said. "And I think all clubs who have aspirations should be doing that and it is about signing elite players.

"Certainly when you're on top of your game, I don't mean this in a disrespectful manner, but if you're not signing players, I think you are going backwards. Other teams around you are signing players, so you're not even staying still, you're dropping down a peg or two because they are trying to up maybe two steps. So I think it's imperative and massively important that Liverpool bring players in."

Results have obscured the fact that Liverpool have in fact been planning for the future when it comes to the transfer market in recent years. The club's strategy for a long time now has been to retain and reward their brightest young talent.

It's why new deals for Stefan Bajcetic (18), Harvey Elliott (19), Curtis Jones (21) and Joe Gomez (25) have all been penned since the summer months, while recent additions over the last two-and-a-half years paint a clear picture of where Liverpool are looking when it comes to recruitment.

Since the summer of 2020, only Thiago Alcantara was signed who was over the age of 24 and his arrival from Bayern Munich was very much seen as an opportunistic one when the club took advantage of a contract impasse at Bayern Munich to sign one of the most gifted midfielders in European football at 29.

Diogo Jota was 23 when he joined on the same weekend as Thiago, while a 24-year-old Kostas Tsimikas arrived a few weeks earlier. Ibrahima Konate had just turned 22 when his signature was captured while Luis Diaz was just a few weeks removed from his 25th birthday when he joined from Porto in January 2022.

Darwin Nunez turned 23 just a few days into his six-year Liverpool contract and Cody Gakpo signed at the start of the calendar year at the same age. Fabio Carvalho was viewed as one of the most promising teenagers in England when he helped Fulham regain their Premier League status last season. On top of those, Liverpool have also added Calvin Ramsay (18), Kaide Gordon (16) and Ben Doak (16) to their ranks in the last couple of years as head of academy recruitment, Matt Newberry, continues to excel in the role.

Liverpool's transfer targets have also indicative of a club who are keen to reduce the overall age profile of their squad. Aurelien Tchouameni was wanted from Monaco when he was 22 and Jude Bellingham remains top of the shortlist at the age of just 19. The England international turns 20 in June and the belief is that he is someone who can patrol the engine room for the best part of 10-15 years if he can be prised away from Borussia Dortmund this summer.

It might be difficult to see through the thickening fog brought on by performances, results and the league position this season, but Liverpool are unquestionably keeping one eye on their future under Klopp.


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