Liverpool starting XI for first day of Premier League after Firmino signing
Yet again, Liverpool, 20/1 to win the Premier League title next season with Coral, have made a blistering start in the transfer window. Although last summer, Chelsea were the first off the mark, the Reds have raced out of the blocks, bringing in five very good signings (three of them free transfers) and show no signs of letting up.
James Milner, Danny Ings, Adam Bogdan (free transfers), Joe Gomez and now Roberto Firmino are already through the door at Anfield, while deals for Mateo Kovavic, Asier Illarramendi and Nathaniel Clyne could be completed soon.
A priority signing for many Liverpool fans is a goalkeeper and speculation surrounds Iker Casillas, though with director of football Ian Ayre in Chile for the Copa America, he could well find a stopper who fits the bill.
Two players he does have his eye on are Sevilla’s Colombian centre forward Carlos Bacca and Venezuela striker Jose Salomon Rondon, who plies his trade for Zenit St Petersburg. Landing Firmino was considered ambitious, as higher-profile clubs were understood to be circling him, so anything can happen.
With as many as eight players rumoured to be heading for the Anfield exit door, not least Raheem Sterling, who could be on the verge of a £50m move to Manchester City, it is still likely to make an interesting selection headache for manager Brendan Rodgers next season.
Coral writers, however, take on that daunting task first. Check out below how the Reds could line up next term.
Goalkeeper: Simon Mignolet
Should the Reds fail in their pursuit of a goalkeeper, they will revert to Belgian custodian Mignolet, though he was their weak link last term. It could well be more work is needed on the training ground between him and the defence to establish a more trusting relationship.
Right back: Nathaniel Clyne
A deal is close for the Southampton right back, who has said he would prefer a move to Liverpool over Manchester United, who were also interested. He will join former teammates Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert (if he stays) as well as Dejan Lovren, who might improve next term with Clyne to the right of him once more in defence.
Centre back: Dejan Lovren
There is no doubt; he is a very good defender, though seems to play on confidence. The Croatian centre back will get a full pre-season under his belt this summer and may relish the opportunity to show what he can really do, re-discovering his form from when Lovren excelled at St Mary’s.
Centre back: Martin Skrtel
After signing his new deal, the Slovakian is going nowhere, and is probably the best defender Liverpool currently have. He needs to step up next term and show that he can be a leader. The Reds have a reputation for breeding characters in the heart of their defence and need someone of a Sami Hyypia/Jamie Carragher mould to bring about stability.
Left back: Alberto Moreno
What he lacks in defensive ability, he more than makes up for going forward. Moreno’s swashbuckling style appeals to Rodgers and the Spaniard gives the side natural width. As shown last term, he also has an eye for the spectacular and a deadly left foot.
Defensive midfielder: Emre Can
The young German can become one of the best in his position and he is proving this at the European Under-21 Championship this summer. Very quickly, 21-year-old Can could establish himself as one of the first names on the teamsheet at Liverpool and, if given chance, will be key next season. He can also do this!:
Central midfielder: Jordan Henderson
Set to emerge from the departed Steven Gerrard’s shadow, taking his role of captain, Henderson has gone from strength-to-strength over the last couple of campaigns. Now an England regular, he can really push on and lead by example for the Reds. Henderson is an all-round midfielder and has pretty much everything in his locker to excel.
Attacking midfielder: Philippe Coutinho
Likely to be the more advanced of an engine-room trio, the 23-year-old Brazilian will be looking to push on next season.
Coutinho was one of the club’s best players last term and showed he could be the one to replace Luis Suarez in terms of the effect he has on the team. With a penchant for the unpredictable, he also has an eye for goal and on his day is unplayable.
Right wing: Adam Lallana
If he finally sorts his injury concerns out, the former Saints man can be quality and showed glimpses last term of what he can do, often scoring important goals. The key for him is to stay fit and keep developing on-field relationships with other attacking players.
Left wing: Roberto Firmino
Their newest signing can play anywhere in the attacking quadrant, and last campaign showed promise as a ‘false nine’, which gives Rodgers options. Likely to cut in and run beyond the central striker, this front four will be fairly fluid and adaptable.
Striker: Danny Ings
Until Daniel Sturridge recovers from injury, with a return expected in late September, Ings is proven in the Premier League, and should occupy this role on the first day of new season, regardless of whether Liverpool land Bacca or Rondon. Mario Balotelli and Fabio Borini are on borrowed time and will depart the club soon, while young Belgian striker, Divock Origi, who they signed last summer, has returned from a loan spell.
Goalkeeper: Adam Bogdan
Should come straight in on the bench and will be looking to push for a first XI role if he gets given a chance.
Centre back: Mamadou Sakho
Gives the team cover in this area, though the Frenchman needs to step his game up after a number of errors last term.
utility player: James Milner
A quality capture on a free transfer and he will definitely play a major role next campaign, especially in tough away games, such as Stoke City, or even derby fixtures against Everton or Man Utd. Milner can also operate in a number of positions.
Central midfield: Asier Illarramendi
Apparently the club are keen. The Real Madrid man has been likened to former Reds player Xabi Alonso and in time he can become Liverpool’s metronome. Rodgers will no doubt give Illarramendi time though.
Central midfield: Mateo Kovacic
His deal is said to be nearing completion and the 21-year-old could follow a similar path to Coutinho, who Rodgers also brought in from Inter and gradually moulded into a quality player.
Winger: Lazar Markovic
Showed a few spells of quality last term, though his temperament has been called into question. However, the Serbian is a useful outlet and can also fill in a full back, or wing back, if Rodgers switches systems.
Striker: Jose Rondon
Should a move for Bacca not materialise, the Venezuelan has shown just as much promise. Liverpool are also said to be in for Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazzette; however, they could be put off by his circa £35m fee. Though, if Sterling does complete a £50m move to Man City, this switch could make sense.