The words ‘Liverpool’ and ‘evolution’ have tended to go hand in hand when it comes to news and speculation in the last 18 months or more, and rightly so.
Last summer, the arrival of Diego Utah and Thiago Alcantara represented an attempt to do just that: the former was brought in to add freshness to Liverpool’s three front and eventually increase to replace one of them, while the latter shone at Bayern Munich. And looks like a player who can take the Reds ’pitch to the next level.
However, “evolution” can come in more ways than one: in the case of Juta, it would add another option to a trio that already stars. With Thiago it was to add a player with a different skill ability to the other connections that are available to Klopp. And those two things may be a feature of what Liverpool are looking to do this summer as they prepare for more visits and a fresh start.
One of the positions at the top of the priority list is Kadima. Find another Utah Utah signing in the sense of a player who is now willing to be a backup option and rotate to the team when needed, but he also has the ability and ceiling to replace one from Muhammad Salah, Roberto Firmino or Sadio. Mane for the long term, would be the ideal plan.
But Liverpool can do that while also ticking the ‘Thiago’ box if you will – the box that includes not only adding quality to the team, but a skill that current players in the same position do not offer.
Not long ago, six consecutive Anfield defeats saw Liverpool knock their heads off in Bricks Week in the bricks, trying the same unsuccessful approach over and over again. The pattern was simple: a struggle to break a loaded defense; Fail to score; Make one mistake behind and be punished; Drop more points; return. Even against Real Madrid’s midweek, with 15 minutes to go, you never felt like Liverpool would score, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s driving run and going wide late while sailing unharmed – a little more forced action or hope without anyone in the center waiting.
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There is therefore an argument to say that when they seek to add more depth to their attack this summer, finding a B plan is as important for Liverpool as finding someone who ticks the other boxes required by the Reds. Plan B can, of course, come in a variety of ways, like turning to number 10 for the first time since the departure of Filippa Coutinho, or somehow drastically changing the lineup.
A more subtle and considered change is perhaps more likely.
Jürgen Klopp worked with a larger focus about number nine before Robert Lewandowski. Despite the misplaced role of Firmino which was one of the crucial tactical points in the German era, Klopp could also play with other types of strikers, and indeed, if Firmino was not at Anfield already when Klopp arrived, there is every chance he could have gone a different route.
If Liverpool had brought in another player closer to number nine ‘worthy’ to their squad, Arling Holland would have been the clear candidate given his clear world-class status, but the chances of funding for him would be slim. There are also plenty of other options, with Red Bull Salzburg’s Pattson Daka and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Andre Silva among the other solutions available.
Just like last summer, Liverpool need to evolve. And like when they signed Tiago, they could have done with a player a little different from the ones they already have. Stamping forward in a number nine format will mark the two boxes in one round.