If Liverpool can learn anything from Saturday's 2-2 draw against Fulham, it's that the Reds will continue to come up against teams who are looking to frustrate the attack with two banks of four. Fulham pressed admirably at times, but the template was a broadly familiar one.
It's something that Jürgen Klopp must act quickly to address. And it just so happens there is a system tweak that could garner the missing edge from a disappointing opening day.
Of course, in games where Liverpool come up against the likes of Manchester City, some players become more vital than others, with the focus on being able to disrupt play defensively as much as sustaining attacks and creating chances. It is difficult to make a switch from a combination that has become a staple of Klopp's era, but it's one that is now necessary when facing teams in the bottom half of the table.
Fitness-allowing, Thiago Alcântara and Fabinho will remain the first two names on the team sheet when Klopp is deciding between his best midfield, but the question is whether that combination is needed when taking on a newly-promoted side. When teams are setting up to block the spaces, one of the best ways to break them down is to be able to challenge them directly — an element that other members of the Liverpool squad excel at more than others. Even Thiago, maestro supreme, has more of a defensive side to his game than some of the alternative options.
Harvey Elliott shone last season when given freedom in the middle of the park, and it is telling that Klopp looked to him as one of the first changes when going 1-0 down. With Elliott having the dribbling ability, but also the pace that can see him bypass midfield lines, there is little the opposition can do without engaging him. That could see it become more effective to deploy two number eights in games against weaker opposition, with a focus on forcing games to become open.
Of course, this may require some slight tweaks to Klopp's system. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson would be required to be much more selective in when they embark on forward runs, though those opportunities will still be plentiful with Liverpool's ability to pin the opposition back into their own territory. With a midfield that switches out the control that Thiago, Jordan Henderson, and Fabinho offer, a return to a higher-risk brand of heavy-metal football could avoid frustrating results that can be costly in the nature of a title race.
There have been some positive signs over Klopp's tenure that have shown that this can work. The notable Champions League partnership between Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keïta saw Liverpool cruise past Genk 4-1 in 2019, with both players able to excel when deployed further up the pitch. And given that 97 points isn't enough to guarantee a Premier League trophy against Pep Guardiola and Manchester City, the Reds must find a solution that can be deployed strategically to earn those extra vital points.
Darwin Núñez looks to have solved part of the problem that the Reds have faced in recent seasons — that should make results such as Brentford away last season much less common. It's arguable that had the Uruguay international started against Fulham, three points would have been secured. But the emerging signs are that while Thiago, Fabinho, and Henderson remain one of Klopp's best midfield selections in clashes against the top sides in Europe, a notion of high-risk, high-reward may be better against sides who are set up to counter-attack.
With Fábio Carvalho able to shine from midfield areas with the added threat of goals from outside the box, the most extreme implementation of this system would be for Klopp to deploy Carvalho and Elliott as the midfield two together. Keïta is perhaps more likely, as someone that offers a better blend of added control in situations where the opposition recover the ball and look to break quickly — a factor that Klopp must consider as he prepares for Liverpool's home opener against Crystal Palace on August 15. But the absence of Thiago could force the manager into an experiment that ends up helping to break down stubborn defences.
I’ll put my hands up; I wasn’t sure what to expect from the opening day of the new season, at least from a personal perspective. The events outside the Stade de France just over two months ago have undeniably left a deeper imprint than even I might have realised.
Across June and July, apart from writing a couple of retrospective pieces on Emlyn Hughes and Ronnie Whelan, and supplying Henry Jackson with a set of 2022/23 predictions, I kept all things Liverpool at arm’s length.
I didn’t watch one live-action minute of our pre-season friendlies, not even the Community Shield, instead forsaking that for a chilled-out weekend in Yorkshire on the fields of a music festival, making for an accumulative summer where I only glanced in Liverpool’s direction to peruse the brief highlights of a Darwin Nunez goal splurge against RB Leipzig, and to take a look at the ones we scored against Man City.
Not in attendance at Craven Cottage, apart from seeking out the team news 45 minutes before kick-off, I totally ignored the pre-match build-up. Worryingly, there had been no itch for football, no steadily rising desire to get back at it. The sport of the round ball hadn’t belonged to men for the last eight or nine weeks, and that had been just fine.
The opening day of a new season isn’t meant to feel like that. No nerves, no anticipation, it was almost as if the spectre of the return to competitive action was a week or two too soon, which of course it has been.
Another thing to accentuate this sense of detachment and borderline ambivalence is that it would be nine days beyond this opening game until I get the chance to click through the Anfield turnstiles when Crystal Palace roll into town.
Although it probably does, all of this isn’t meant to sound ‘grumpy old man’. I’ve just enjoyed ignoring football since Paris. It has been therapeutic and very much needed. If anything, I’ve enjoyed the break a little too much, a situation that had cast football as an uninvited interloper, one that has arrived earlier than required. Throw in Martin Tyler putting his foot firmly in his mouth with his Hillsborough remarks and it was hardly the loving embrace that August usually provides.
Then came Saturday.
Belatedly, all those familiar, yet previously absent new season sensations did kick in around 15 minutes before kick-off, generally provoked by my children deciding they needed to eat. Suddenly, the idea of not being sat in front of the television at 12.30 brought with it acute anxiety, and it was convenience meals all round.
So estranged was I from the nuances of pre-season, I hadn’t realised just how many injuries Jurgen Klopp was nursing. Bobby Firmino being deployed rather than Nunez was unexpectedly expected. Apart from that call, there were no surprises to be found in the line-up.
A handful of early vague scares, Fulham propelled themselves into their latest Premier League return with a bright and enthusiastic start to the game; I don’t know whether it is a trick of the mind, but it certainly feels like we have been dealt more than our fair share of newly promoted teams on the opening day of the season across recent years.
It took Liverpool a quarter of an hour to adjust themselves to the challenge, and a disallowed Luis Diaz effort should have been the moment of genesis for Liverpool to cruise to a comfortable victory. Fulham surprisingly maintained their early energy, however, and Aleksandar Mitrovic proved a constant threat, the conjurer of a series of unnecessary incidents, along with the opening goal of the afternoon. It all seemed completely unnecessary and self-inflicted to a degree, despite the credit the home side deserved.
Diaz was the source of our best moments. A near miss when trying to get on the end of an Andy Robertson ball across the Fulham six-yard-box, the frame of the goal struck and added to his disallowed effort before the interval.
The second half brought more discomfort; the sight of Thiago exiting with what appeared to be a hamstring problem sounded potentially long-lasting alarm bells. His departure also precipitated Firmino being replaced by Nunez.
Fulham could have extended their lead shortly before the hour when hitting the post. If it hadn’t felt so an hour and a half earlier, football was now feeling very alive and relevant.
Mo Salah carved a chance for Nunez which was blocked by the Fulham goalkeeper, a charmed life being led by Marek Rodak until the two linked again for the equaliser in what was a carbon copy of the previous move.
For Klopp, the trick will be striking the right balance in the front three in this post-Sadio Mane landscape. It is unsettling, but we shouldn’t worry too much too soon. On another day Diaz would have scored a couple in the first half, while Nunez and Salah showed clear signs of potential footballing telepathy.
At 1-1, we should have been looking at a ruthless final half hour where we predictably popped the party, but a careless invitation from Virgil van Dijk was enthusiastically accepted by Mitrovic. Fabio Carvalho was thrown on for Diaz as Klopp shuffled his cards, the former Fulham man sending an early opportunity over the crossbar when opting for a little too much composure.
Our second equaliser came with Salah netting via a ball from Trent and the almost accidental assist from Nunez. Fulham refused to read the script though and a tale of the unexpected played itself out with Jordan Henderson hitting the bar in the final seconds.
Not the ideal start to the campaign, the only plus side of the dropped points was that I felt the full force of the frustration at full time.
It was almost reassuring, an outcome that comforted as much as it pained, safe in the knowledge that you can be estranged from the Reds for a while, but you can never divorce them. Crystal Palace can’t come soon enough.
Up the disjointed Reds.
Premier League 2, Kirkby
August 7, 2022
Goals: Mebude 8′, 62′, Ogwuru 69′
That included goalkeeper Harvey Davies, Isaac Mabaya, Luke Chambers, James Norris, Melkamu Frauendorf, Bobby Clark and the impressive Stefan Bajcetic.
In addition to those who enjoyed a summer to remember with the first team, striker Layton Stewart led the line after a strong pre-season following a torrid time with injury.
The new season makes for new players stepping up to the U21s level but, for Lewtas, “the same expectations will be there.”
A fast start created openings for both sides, but it was Man City‘s Adedire Mebude who capitalised on a loose ball in the penalty area to put City 1-0 up after just eight minutes.
The young Reds showed glimpses of finding a route to goal, and Norris and Frauendorf had chances to strike back.
It was City, though, who were asking all the questions and Davies had to be there with the answers to keep his side in touching distance at half-time.
Half time: Liverpool U21s 0-1 Man City U21s
The second half started with a chance for Norris and another crucial intervention from Davies, but two strikes from City within the space of seven minutes put the game beyond reach for Liverpool.
Mebude’s second, a tap-in, doubled the lead for the visitors before Daniel Ogwuru added the third with just over 20 minutes remaining in the contest.
Lewtas did inject Mateusz Musialowski – another player to feature for Klopp throughout pre-season – into the contest off the bench, as well as Max Woltman, Dominic Corness and Oakley Cannonier.
Liverpool could not wrestle back the momentum and ended their day with plenty of valuable lessons for the campaign ahead.
Liverpool U21s: Davies; Mabaya, Quansah, Jonas, Chambers; Bajcetic (Corness 78′), Cain, Norris (Musialowski 64′); Frauendorf (Woltman 65′), Clark (Cannonier 78′), Stewart
Subs not used: Hewitson
Shortly after the half-hour mark on Saturday lunchtime, Liverpool found themselves trailing to newly-promoted Fulham.
Neeskens Kebano deliberately hesitated on the right flank before feeding the ball to the overlapping Kenny Tete, who lofted a cross to the back post.
Arriving was Aleksandar Mitrović, able to head it into the roof of the net as Alisson tried in vain to claw it away.
This was a multi-faceted, man of the match performance from the Serbian. He was almost deceptively good with the ball at his feet, outwitting Virgil van Dijk to win a penalty, and frequently relieved pressure by drawing fouls or earning throw-ins in the middle third of the pitch.
But his biggest asset remains his immense physical power, and it was the goal that showcased it best.
Trent Alexander-Arnold was his victim at the back post, ‘posterised’ — as they say in basketball — by a thunderous Mitrović dunk.
At half time, BT Sport’s pundits levelled criticism at the right-back. Peter Crouch said Alexander-Arnold needed to show ‘more strength’ in that scenario, while Rachel Brown-Finnis pointed out that he had ‘not even checked’ his surroundings and accused him of doing ‘nothing at all’.
And perhaps you could argue that Alexander-Arnold should have been more wary of the danger posed by Mitrović, or more proactive in his defending. Theoretically, if he’d attacked the ball and leapt earlier, the danger might have been snuffed out.
But in mitigation, Mitrović is a supremely dominant aerial presence. The last time he played in the Premier League (2018/19), he ranked fifth among all players for successful aerial duels per game. And with that in mind, perhaps it would have been wise, as Rio Ferdinand suggested, for Van Dijk or Joël Matip to effectively follow the striker into wider positions and prevent him from targeting the full-backs.
Still, critics argue that the goal merely continues a trend of poor defending from Alexander-Arnold at the back post.
They might point to four examples from the last 12 months — the Community Shield, the Champions League final, Villarreal away and Brentford away.
Against Manchester City, Alexander-Arnold was admittedly at fault. He was far too slow to react when Julián Álvarez knocked a long pass down to Erling Haaland, and that allowed Phil Foden to get a run on him and meet Kevin de Bruyne’s cross, with Álvarez bundling home the rebound.
In Paris, though, there were other players to blame too. Yes, maybe Alexander-Arnold could have tracked Vinícius Jr more closely, or better positioned himself to cut out a low delivery, but you could also argue that the ball should not have been allowed to travel that far anyway. And he also had more space to defend because Van Dijk was dragged across to cover for Andy Robertson.
As for Villarreal’s second goal in the semi-final second leg, it was far too easy for Étienne Capoue to get away from Robertson and fashion the space to cross, though Alexander-Arnold was also caught flat-footed. It was a simple task for Francis Coquelin to head home, uncontested by the right-back, whose feet were planted.
Brentford, though, was a clear case of Alexander-Arnold being left exposed. For their second and third goals, they doubled and tripled up on the Englishman, and so it was inevitable that he would be overwhelmed. There may only have been one man on him at Fulham, but the Mitrović mismatch was similarly clear, and there should definitely have been more protection. Much like the Villarreal game, there is a strong case that the cross should never have been allowed to happen in the first place.
It’s also worth considering the games critics ignore. In the FA Cup final, for instance, Alexander-Arnold came up with several potentially goal-saving clearances or touches at the back post as part of a defensive masterclass.
Overall, then, is it fair to say that this is a particular ‘weakness’ in Alexander-Arnold’s game? Well, there are times when he needs to establish a clearer picture of the threats around him, and when he’s guilty of being passive.
But it also feels like an oversimplification, because oftentimes lapses elsewhere are leaving him vulnerable in what is an inherently difficult defensive situation.
It’s important to stress that there are usually multiple errors in the process of conceding a goal, and Jürgen Klopp and his staff will certainly adopt a comprehensive view as they pick apart a draw that feels like a defeat.
One cannot assume anything in this league but three points were expected, yet they were not delivered, despite the goalscoring efforts of Salah and Nunez.
Jurgen Klopp‘s side were disjointed and the manager admitted Liverpool were “just not good enough” to take all three points back to Merseyside.
Here, This Is Anfield’s Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) is joined by Lewis Bower (@LewisBower2021), Lubo Domo (@lubodomo) and Aaron Cutler (@aaron_cutler) to talk opening day struggles, the midfield and who should start up top against Crystal Palace.A draw that felt like a defeat…
AARON: There’s no escaping the fact it made for a poor start to the season. Having threatened to blow Man City away in the Community Shield, few supporters could have envisaged us beginning so sluggishly.
The might and relentlessness of City have distorted this league beyond recognition. A draw – however early – feels like a defeat. That may sound dramatic but there is simply no margin for error. Liverpool knows that better than anyone which made our approach all the more frustrating.
Sadly, too many of our lads were under par. We were second to everything and lacked any real cohesion. Continual breaks in play only exacerbated matters.
It’s rare to see the likes of Alexander-Arnold, Matip and Van Dijk so off the boil… and that’s before you get to midfield.
LUBO: I’m not the type to criticise after one game, but the team lacked rhythm and I was also surprised by Virgil getting fooled by Mitrovic.
Fabinho was far from his best, Thiago overhit a few passes too and there was no link between midfield and attack. Salah, Diaz and Bobby barely touched the ball in the first half and Trent got beaten at the second post, not for the first time.
JOANNA: I had a different viewing experience this time around and it made for interesting viewing as my family stirred the pot and looked for any reaction.
As the only Liverpool fan in the large gathering, I was on my own and I didn’t have much to counter with as we really were so desperately poor – of which I was readily reminded.
As you said, Aaron, it’s hard to reconcile the fact that this was close to the team that was relentless against Man City only a week ago, the pressure, discipline and accuracy were just not there at Fulham.
Two points dropped. Liverpool cannot afford us saying that too many times this season.
AARON: As for positives? At least we didn’t lose.
LEWIS: Despite a wretched result and, as a whole, performance, Klopp can cast hope in the performance of Harvey Elliott. Harvey connected a disjointed midfield to a rather hopeful but subdued Salah. Incisive in his more inventive passing and careful in retention, Elliott added intensity and quality, giving life to Salah in the process.
And Nunez, he instils fear into opposition backlines. His desire and intelligence in his movement will eventually give Salah more wiggle room.A word on that midfield performance and ANOTHER injury
A complete lack of composure led to a number of turnovers, meaning any grip on the game would be short-lived.
AARON: The midfield trio were appalling, frankly. I lost count of the second balls lost, while none seemed capable of dictating the pace of the game… something you’ve come to expect of Thiago in particular.
And on Henderson, he improved slightly when dropped into the No. 6 role but that’s not saying much.
JOANNA: You expected a Thiago injury at some point this season but it coming this early is a blow, but I still don’t see Klopp pushing for a new face as he will sense it is a stop-gap with those currently on the sidelines expected to return without too much delay.
Not sure I completely agree.
LUBO: There is enough quality in Naby, Hendo, Fabinho, Elliott, Carvalho, and Milner to get us through the injury crisis. On paper, we still have enough options. A new signing isn’t necessary as of yet, for me. I am not sure that the right player is available at the moment.
LEWIS: I sit on the other side to you, Lubo. It is probably time Liverpool dipped into the market. Although I agree with Klopp, we do not want a stop-gap. But I would like Liverpool to be more aggressive in their long-term targets. Lay some money out for Jude Bellingham.
Liverpool will perhaps need two midfielders in the next 18 months, so there must be someone else liked by the club.
AARON: I do fear we’ll pay the price for not re-enforcing in that engine room. The consensus seems to be the club is waiting for their primary target, who, like Lewis said, we can only presume is Bellingham.
Refusing to compromise and move for a second or third choice has served us well in the past but let’s not forget it also threatened to derail an entire season in 2020/21.
Yes, we have options, but too many of them have chequered injury records and simply cannot be relied upon. I’d be surprised if we see any one of Thiago, Jones or Chamberlain before October which should really prompt a re-think. I’d be even more surprised if we bought someone.And Nunez or Firmino vs. Palace?
JOANNA: I adore Bobby Firmino and I thought he showed really promising signs in pre-season after looking as though all the games and injuries caught up to him last season.
I wouldn’t be surprised or disappointed to see him start at Anfield but you do feel Nunez has shown why he should be in the XI, from his movement to his goalscoring contributions.
He’s done what has been asked of him and he can create plenty of danger against Palace, and who would be opposed to seeing that?
LUBO: I agree, Joanna. As much as I love Bobby, Nunez has to start the next game. We need his presence, his strength and his positioning against this type of opposition.
Firmino will still be key, maybe they can try using him as the link between midfield and attack, the No. 10 role, perhaps, he’s more than capable to play there. But I expect Darwin to start and to score, again.
LEWIS: Another vote for Nunez. Darwin has more than earned his place in the starting 11. You can’t keep a £64m signing on the bench forever. Firmino himself is also not a bad option from the bench.
AARON: I’ll make it four from four! Nunez has to start, no question. His two cameo appearances have shown what a handful he’ll be for defences.
The Uruguayan strikes me as somewhat of a rough diamond but a striker that is always going to be involved. His movement is exceptional and his physical presence is a real asset.
On the flip side, Bobby’s influence appears to be waning. He still has a role to play but that is increasingly against certain sides and/or setups. When the Reds are expected to dominate possession and be in the ascendancy, his lack of goal threat comes into sharp focus.
August 12th, 2017. Jürgen Klopp takes his Liverpool side to Vicarage Road for a clash with Marco Silva’s Watford on the opening day of the Premier League season.
With only eight minutes gone, the Reds find themselves behind as Stefano Okaka directs a header past Simon Mignolet.
Sadio Mané equalises shortly before the half-hour, but parity lasts only three minutes, with Abdoulaye Doucouré restoring the Hornets’ lead.
They look on course for a hard-fought, relieving three points, only to concede once again deep into stoppage time as centre-back Miguel Britos bundles in from a corner.
It was a painful game, once again underlining the need for a new centre-back to stabilise the defence. But in the grand scheme of the Klopp era, it was something of an outlier. Liverpool have otherwise boasted a perfect first-game record under the German, beating Arsenal 4-3, West Ham 4-0, Norwich 4-1, Leeds 4-3 and Norwich (again) 3-0.
But five years on, Silva has inflicted more pain on the Reds, this time as the Fulham boss. And nowadays, Liverpool aren’t a side simply gunning for top four. Instead, they hope to become champions, so this is certainly an inauspicious start.
It also begs a question: how many other title-winning teams have dropped points on the first day of the season?
Well, it was actually fairly common in the 1990s. In the very first Premier League season, Manchester United lost 2-1 to Sheffield United in their opener, and two years later, Kenny Dalglish’s Blackburn Rovers would be held to a draw against Southampton.
United slipped up again in 1995/96, falling to a 3-1 defeat at Aston Villa, and Arsenal had to settle for a point at Leeds in 1997/98.
Manchester United’s treble-winners were held by Leicester in August 1998, and the following season, the Red Devils drew 1-1 at Goodison Park.
The eventual champions, then, got off to a slow start in five of the first eight Premier League seasons.
It’s been markedly less common since, with just four instances in the past 22 years. In 2007 and 2008, United shared the spoils with Reading and Newcastle respectively, while Everton inflicted more pain on Sir Alex Ferguson’s side in 2012, beating them 1-0.
And of course the most recent example, raised by many Liverpool fans in an attempt to play down Saturday’s disappointment, was actually last season, when Man City lost 1-0 to Nuno Espirito Santo’s short-lived Spurs side.
But clearly, all these episodes aren’t equally applicable to Liverpool. First of all, it’s worth considering how many of these teams would become engaged in the kind of title race that’s expected this season — around 90 points required, with very little separating the top two sides.
There are only two that stand out, in addition to Man City last year — the 07/08 and 08/09 United teams. The former would beat Chelsea to the title by 87 points to 85, while the latter notched 90 to edge out Liverpool’s 86.
Second, which of these teams dropped points against poor opponents? However well they played yesterday, the odds are that Fulham will still finish in the bottom two this season, which makes the result all the more concerning.
Reassuringly, United faltered against a Sheffield United side that would finish 14th, an Everton team (99/00) that ended up 13th, and two teams that were ultimately relegated in Reading and Newcastle.
If there’s one team that can offer Liverpool solace right now, it’s the United of 2007-2009.
With more than a week to ponder the result, it’s hard to say how worried Reds supporters should be.
On the one hand, it was only at the end of July that they beat perhaps the best team in the world, underlining just how good they are.
But on the other, they can’t simply put the defeat down to complacency and assume that Klopp will nip it in the bud. The game may have exposed other significant weaknesses too.
If you were to find a middle ground, you would probably decide not to overreact, whilst accepting that the margin of error is now even more miniscule than it was on the eve of the campaign. But Ferguson has walked this tightrope twice before, and you would not bet against Klopp doing the same.
Wrapping up the Liverpool transfer news, rumours and gossip in the 2022 summer window.Klopp dismisses need for midfield reinforcements
Thiago Alcantara was forced off just six minutes into the second half of Liverpool's 2-2 draw at Fulham - but Jurgen Klopp has dismissed the need to seek midfield reinforcements.
The midfield playmaker was substituted with what appeared to be a hamstring strain as he clutched the back of his left leg.
The summer transfer window remains open, although Klopp feels Liverpool does not need a new addition in midfield.
"It's clear we said we don't need a midfielder as we have enough," he said. "Now we have been punished for something which is not our responsibility.
"There's nothing we could do about this. Naby [Keita] is ill and maybe he'll be back next week. With Thiago, it's not good but we will see. A transfer must make sense, now and in the long-term.
"We still have eight midfielders, just some of them are injured at the moment. It's not a good decision at all, but we won't panic."
Liverpool are close to sealing an extension with Naby Keita as he enters the final year of his contract (The Sun on Sunday, August 7)Jota signs long-term Liverpool contract extension
Liverpool forward Diogo Jota has committed his future to the club by signing a long-term contract extension.
The new deal for the 25-year-old, who has scored 34 goals in 85 appearances since joining Liverpool from Wolves in the summer of 2020, is understood to run until 2027.
Jota joins fellow Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah in signing a new deal with the club this summer, following the departure of Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich.Klopp rules out more incomings this summer Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has ruled out making any more signings this summer unless they suffer injuries or sell any of their existing players
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has ruled out further new faces arriving at Anfield this summer.
The German is content with the squad he has shaped this summer, with Nunez arriving for £85m from Benfica - a club-record fee - adding to further recruits in Calvin Ramsay for £6.5m from Aberdeen and Fabio Carvalho from Fulham for an undisclosed fee.
Klopp told Sky Sports: "Unless we have injuries or player sales no, we have our squad. Hopefully, there won't be any so Liverpool supporters can focus on other things."
When pressed on potential outgoings, Klopp added: "I don't talk about these things you know that. Look at the results, not the process - don't forget!"Rangers sign Davies from Liverpool for £4m
Rangers have completed the £4m signing of Ben Davies from Liverpool on a four-year contract.
Last season he was on loan at Sheffield United in the English Championship, playing 23 times for the promotion-chasing Blades.
Davies was signed for £500k during an injury crisis in January 2021. Liverpool made that £500k back last season in a loan fee from Sheffield United.Forest sign Williams
Nottingham Forest have completed the £16m signing of Liverpool right-back Neco Williams on a four-year contract.
Williams, 21, spent the second half of last season out on loan with Championship winners Fulham, where he made 14 league appearances, scoring twice and assisting two goals for the west London team.Gomez agrees new long-term contract
Liverpool defender Joe Gomez has signed a new long-term contract with the club, which is understood to be a five-year deal that runs until the summer of 2027.
The England international, 25, has put pen to paper on a five-year deal with the club that runs until the summer of 2027.
Gomez, who was reportedly interesting Aston Villa this summer, joined from Charlton Athletic in June 2015 and has since won the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, Carabao Cup, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup with Liverpool.Salah signs three-year Liverpool deal
Mohamed Salah has ended speculation about his Liverpool future by signing a new three-year contract.
The Egypt forward contract was due to expire in the summer of 2023, but his fresh terms in excess of £350,000 a week, makes him the highest-paid player in the club's history.
The three-year deal still fits into the club's sustainable wage structure and is incentivised with scoring bonuses.
Julian Ward jetted out to meet Salah, who is on holiday, to finalise the paperwork and FSG president Mike Gordon was instructive in negotiations with the forward's Ramy Abbas Issa.Monaco complete £15.5m Minamino signing
Monaco have completed the signing of Japan forward Takumi Minamino from Liverpool in a deal worth £15.5m (€18m).
The fee is an initial £12.9m (€15m) plus a further £2.6m (€3m) in add-ons.
Minamino, 27, signed from Red Bull Salzburg in 2020 and played 55 times for Liverpool, scoring 14 times.Chelsea to approach ex-Liverpool sporting director
Chelsea are expected to engage Michael Edwards over their sporting director vacancy with owner Todd Boehly previously referencing Liverpool as a "great model" for success.
The man who helped reshape the recruitment of the Merseysiders and constructed Jurgen Klopp's world-class squad with smart, analytical-powered transfers, departed Anfield this summer after 11 years.
A source close to Edwards has told Sky Sports News that since the 42-year-old's decision to leave was made public last November, he has been approached by Europe's powerhouse teams - Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain specifically - as well as hedge funds and billionaires wanting to buy clubs and have him run them.Sky Sports' senior reporter Melissa Reddy reveals all on Michael Edwards - the man who was instrumental in Liverpool's recent transfer success and who could now be on his way to Chelsea Who have Liverpool been linked with?
Matheus Nunes - Reports in Portugal claim Liverpool are ready to start formal negotiations with Sporting over the signing of Matheus Nunes. The 23-year-old midfielder is among the hottest properties in European football right now, with Chelsea recently exploring a deal for the ace and Manchester City also watching him (Daily Express, July 22).
Will Osula - Liverpool and Newcastle have reportedly been scouting Sheffield United starlet Osula but it is Premier League rivals Chelsea who might be the biggest beneficiaries of the 18-year-old's next move (Daily Express, July 29).
Martin Terrier - Liverpool have reportedly identified Rennes star Martin Terrier as a replacement for Roberto Firmino (The Sun, July 19).
Adrien Rabiot - Juventus have turned their attention to Roberto Firmino as part of any swap deal with Liverpool for Rabiot, having previously wanted to include Naby Keita in the transfer (The Independent, July 1).
Christopher Nkunku - Nkunku has signed a new four-year deal at RB Leipzig - that includes a £51.6m release clause - despite reported interest from Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United (June 23).The latest players linked with a Liverpool exit
Nat Phillips - Fulham and Bournemouth are keen to sign the 25-year-old centre-back but the Reds are demanding more than £10million (Goal, August 2)
Roberto Firmino - Firmino has insisted he wants to stay at Liverpool as he moved to quash speculation about his future amid Juventus links (The Independent, August 1); Liverpool have no intention of allowing Roberto Firmino to become the latest member of their famed front three to leave Anfield, with Jurgen Klopp reiterating the Brazilian remains integral to his plans this season (Daily Telegraph, July 29); Liverpool star Roberto Firmino is reportedly closing in on a move to Juventus, which could have consequences for both Manchester United and Chelsea (Daily Express, July 28); Liverpool are planning talks with Firmino and his representatives in the next few weeks to gauge his interest in staying at the club, with the likelihood of cashing in on him this summer if he indicates he would like to pursue a new challenge, potentially at Juventus (Sunday Mirror, July 3).Image: Could Roberto Firmino leave Liverpool this summer?
Sepp van den Berg - The defender is set to get a chance to shine in the Premier League but it will not be at Liverpool as he is set to join Bournemouth on a season-long loan (Daily Star, July 25).Confirmed Liverpool signings
Calvin Ramsay - Aberdeen, £6.5m
Darwin Nunez - Benfica, £85m
Fabio Carvalho - Fulham, undisclosedConfirmed Liverpool departures
Tyler Morton - Blackburn, loan
Ben Davies - Rangers, £4m
Rhys Williams - Blackpool, loan
Owen Beck - Famalicao, loan
Neco Williams - Nottingham Forest, £16m
Divock Origi - AC Milan, free
Loris Karius - released
Sheyi Ojo - Cardiff, free
Ben Woodburn - Preston, free
Elijah Dixon-Bonner - released
Luis Longstaff - released
Sean Wilson - released
Conor Bradley - Bolton, loan
Sadio Mane - Bayern Munich, £35m
Adam Lewis - Newport, loan
Billy Koumetio - Austria Wien, loan
Takumi Minamino - Monaco, £15.5m
Vitezslav Jaros - Stockport County, loan
Marcelo Pitaluga - Macclesfield, loan
Anderson Arroyo - Alaves, loan
Tom Clayton - Swindon, undisclosedFollow the summer transfer window with Sky Sports
Who will be on the move this summer when the transfer window opens on June 10 and closes at 11pm on September 1?
Keep up-to-date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports' digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.
With a game to chase, the manager turned to Nunez not long after half-time and the striker did not take long to make his presence felt.
It was a performance that leaves you wanting to see more and Nunez had a simple message after his first 40 minutes in the English topflight.
“This is just the beginning,” Nunez penned on Instagram, with images of his goal. We like the sound of that!
The clever finish accompanied an impressive performance off the bench, with the 23-year-old throwing himself into the contest and working himself into all the right places.
Klopp praised as much in his post-match press conference while also lamenting what could have been with better deliveries into the final third.
“Great goal. Could have scored another one as well, maybe two? Crazy,” Klopp said.
“So he is involved in a lot of goalscoring situations, that’s really cool and that’s where we have to bring him up.
“Now imagine if we’d have played good, how often we could set him up then! Because that was obviously our main problem, that our delivery was most of the time not good enough.”
With Nunez off the mark, Salah too, it is now a case of the Reds dusting themselves off and using the nine-day break to their advantage.
Liverpool’s £85 million summer signing came off the bench with his team trailing 1-0, before levelling the score and setting up Mohamed Salah for the Reds’ second equaliser.
Aside from Nunez’s cameo, it was an otherwise underwhelming Liverpool performance, who have now failed to beat Fulham in their last three league meetings.
Here’s how the media assessed Liverpool’s 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage.Nunez saved the day, now he must be trusted from the start
”A goal and an assist – of sorts – in both, Nunez couldn’t have done more from the bench in his opening two games. Firmino’s starting position is already looking precarious.
“Liverpool weren’t prepared for this afternoon. But, as Klopp said before the game, Nunez is ready for the Premier League. The Reds can’t keep him on the bench for much longer.”
GOAL‘s Neil Jones believes the Uruguayan still has some adjusting to do, but his potential is there for all to see.
“His ability to create chaos in and around the penalty area is already clear.
“He can tidy himself up, for sure, and will need time to read his team-mates’ moves and tendencies, but Nunez’s potential is huge.
“Liverpool needed him here.”
The Independent‘s Miguel Delaney pointed out how Nunez’s introduction also brought joy for Salah.
“In contrast to Firmino often disappearing and appearing into space, Nunez offered a gravitational pull all of his own.
“He attracted the ball every time, but also three Fulham defenders. That had the multiplying effect of also freeing Salah, which was were that equaliser came from.”
There was also praise from a certain Match of the Day presenter, who’s in no doubt the Uruguayan will score plenty of goals for the Reds.
Darwin Nunez equalises for @lfc. Very clear, from that goal alone, that he’ll score bundles. The movement of a goal-scorer.
— Gary Lineker ?? (@GaryLineker) August 6, 2022More injuries & “wrong attitude” – Not the start Liverpool wanted
Jones also honed in on Liverpool’s ever-increasing injury list, with Thiago the latest to pick up an issue on Saturday.
“Another game, another injury. That’s 10 first-teamers on the sidelines for Liverpool now, with Thiago Alcantara the latest to fall.
“Klopp’s squad, when all are available, is extremely strong, but at the moment it looks wafer-thin, which does not bode at all well ahead of such a gruelling campaign.”
The Echo‘s Paul Gorst highlights Klopp’s post-match comments suggesting the players’ attitude was “wrong”
“The Reds were simply nowhere near their collective best in the capital as Marco Silva’s Championship winners showed what they are about with a performance full of heart and desire that dragged Liverpool into the sort of dog fight they are usually so adept at side-stepping.
“When the manager is questioning the application of this group of players, it’s a massive sign that things haven’t gone according to plan.”
The Guardian‘s Sachin Nakrani feels it could be time for Harvey Elliott to be trusted in the starting XI once more.
Liverpool running out of midfielders with Thiago injured. On positive note, Harvey Elliott looks ready to replace him in the starting XI. Really clever and creative use of the ball by him again today. Could well pick up from where he left off this time last year, pre-injury.
— Sachin Nakrani (@SachinNakrani) August 6, 2022
“The first game of the season is hardly the time to be drawing conclusions but there were two obvious lessons here.
“The first is that Marco Silva’s Fulham look ready to fight for survival this season, as they look to avoid yet another change of divisions in May.
“The second is that Liverpool have not hit the ground running: they were a long way from their sharpest, especially in a stodgy first half.”
All summer, Liverpool fans have spoken about the possible need for a new midfielder. And all summer, Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp has been consistent with his stance.
The 'right' option for Liverpool is not available this summer in the transfer market, and so the Reds, as they have done in the past, are set to wait until future transfer windows to further strengthen their ranks.
Naby Keïta missed the draw with Fulham thanks to illness but will be back soon, but the Guinean has a patchy injury record himself.
While now might be a decent time for an injury crisis given there are currently no midweek fixtures and calendar looks fairly light, the worry is that a similar situation repeats later down the line is a legitimate one and points have already been dropped in the league.
"We actually have enough [midfielders]," Klopp said in his post-match press conference following the 2-2 draw with Fulham (via the ECHO). "The problem is we are now punished for something that isn’t our responsibility. Things like this can happen.
"Nobody could imagine that Curtis gets the thing he gets. It’s nothing serious but he’s a young boy and he’s had a stress reaction and bodies are like this. Naby is only ill and will definitely be back next week again. Oxlade (injury) happened early, and now Thiago. That’s not good.
"We will see. A transfer must make sense now and in the long-term. We have eight midfielders. We still have enough midfielders. It’s not that we lack midfielders, it’s just some of them are injured. This isn’t a good situation, I don’t like it at all. We have to see how we react on that, but for sure [we will] not panic."
While Klopp has remained consistent all summer and one more injury — which might not even be that severe — was never going to tip him over the edge, it was another reminder of the fine line that Liverpool are treading.
It is not so simple as just adding another body — Premier League players do not come cheap, let alone ones that would be suitable for the Reds — but the unreliability of certain players within Klopp's squad is nothing new. 'Nobody could imagine' that Curtis Jones would get the injury he has — but one or two other absences were wholly predictable.
Eight players might be enough, but there is a question mark over whether Liverpool really will have that number at any point during this campaign. It's a question for which only the rest of the season can provide an answer, but the number of times it gets asked is only likely to increase before the transfer deadline.
There is an emerging trend in European football, but especially in English football. As the impacts of Brexit start to be felt by Premier League clubs and beyond, more and more teams are finding ways to bypass regulations and build empires across the globe.
From Red Bull's hub that spans between Brazil, the United States, Germany and Austria to Brighton's Tony Bloom, who also owns Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, who could qualify for this season's Champions League. Then there is the renowned network of partner clubs known as the City Group, which stretches into the depths of Europe, as well as Asia and the Americas and involves Manchester City.
Manchester City's owners have created a hegemony that not only ensures they are able to bypass Brexit regulations by signing players to their plethora of partner clubs in Europe, but they can also create a homogenous pathway for their players that is internally engineered in order to help them integrate into Pep Guardiola's first team in the future.
Liverpool are well behind their rivals in this field at the moment. Under Rafa Benitez, the club struck several partnerships which ultimately fizzled out upon the arrival of FSG and did not come to much fruition. Since FSG's takeover, there have been some tentative reports of approaches made such as to Elche (as per AS Sport, via Sport Witness)and Cruzeiro (via Supersportes), but there have been no agreements to date.
Though with FSG making moves according to the above reports, it would not be a surprise to see them continue to be on the hunt for a potential partner club in order to ensure Liverpool can still bring through stars like Stefan Bajcetic in the club's system — a signing that would now be impossible to make in a post-Brexit world.
One such club that could intrigue FSG is KRC Genk. Back in 2010, Liverpool struck an agreement with the Belgian side over a partnership, as per the ECHO. The partnership was meant to help Liverpool bring more talented teenagers to the continent through Genk and was financially favourable to the Belgian side, however, with FSG's takeover less than a year after the agreement things never really bore fruit.
Genk's academy has, however, grown in strength significantly since, developing the likes of Divock Origi, Thibaut Courtois and Kevin de Bruyne, as well as a plethora of others stars.
Currently, the club have hit a bit of a slump failing to qualify for Europe last season, but there are a myriad of young players in the squad from the club's academy who are worth keeping an eye on, and they could be an astute partner for Liverpool both in terms of bringing in lucrative talent and giving first refusal to the Reds for various players.
Genk would not only be able to provide a pathway and access to high-quality first-team football in a strong competitive division but through the club, Liverpool would be able to recruit talent from regions that are inaccessible for them at the moment.
For example, EU-based players under the age of 18 or players from Africa and South America who do not meet the new post-Brexit point based criteria. A partner of Genk's ilk could certainly bring Liverpool and Manchester City to closer parity in this field.
The Premier League season might have begun, but most clubs around the country still have work to do in the transfer market. The period where deals had to be done before the start of a new campaign did not last long.
Liverpool, despite having six injuries heading into the season and now Thiago suffering a problem too, are unlikely to do more business. Jürgen Klopp did not completely rule out the possibility of another signing in his Friday press conference, but did reiterate post-Fulham that the Reds will only move if something exceptional comes up in the market that they cannot afford to turn down.
"A transfer must make sense now and in the long-term," said the Reds boss, via the ECHO. "We have eight midfielders. We still have enough midfielders. It’s not that we lack midfielders, it’s just some of them are injured."
Elsewhere, though, the summer spending continues. This week, a variety of deals have raised eyebrows in terms of their value, with it only a couple of years since clubs across the country were riddled with issues caused by the knock-on effect of the pandemic.
Chelsea have signed Marc Cucurella for a fee that, according to The Athletic, could rise to £62m. Thomas Tuchel's side have also made at least one bid for Leicester City's Wesley Fofana, and The Telegraph report that they will have to pay more than the £80m that Manchester United spent on Harry Maguire in order to sign the 21-year-old French centre-back.
Chelsea have also been offered the opportunity to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Frenkie de Jong and Memphis Depay from Barcelona, according to the Evening Standard, with Manchester United already having agreed a £63m fee for De Jong and the other too unlikely to come cheap in terms of wages if not a transfer fee.
Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the table, The Athletic also report that Nottingham Forest, who have already signed 12 different players this summer including splashing around £17.5m on former Liverpool forward Taiwo Awoniyi, have made an offer of up to £35m for Morgan Gibbs-White — which Wolves have rejected.
There are countless other examples of players moving for significant fees all across the Premier League. Tottenham might not be finished yet and Leeds, according to CBS Sport's Ben Jacobs, are targeting a £22m move for PSG's 20-year-old striker Arnaud Kalimuendo. It seems £20m+ deals are the new £10m transfers.
It also explains why Liverpool are unprepared to spend money on a midfielder simply for the sake of it. They will only go and get a player that they really want — because even a mid-range option (that would only be useful to Klopp for a matter of weeks) is likely to set you back £20m or more.
The reality is that none of Gibbs-White, Kalimuendo or Awoniyi would appeal to Liverpool — and yet at a total of more than £74m between them, they could cost an average of £25m each to sign.
Liverpool had to come from behind twice at Craven Cottage, with Klopp adding that their performance was “massively improvable”.
“We got a point from a really bad game from my side,” he said. “The best thing about the game is the result. A really bad game. How can that happen?
“The attitude was not right in the beginning. We tried to react after 15 minutes. The pitch was dry, stuff like this. Really difficult.
“The result is fine, I don’t think we deserved more than that. The performance is massively improvable.
“We can’t always hug the boys, we do that usually when they deserve it.”
Liverpool started the game on the back foot and Fulham deservedly went in front through Aleksandar Mitrovic in the 32nd minute.
Darwin Nunez, on as a second-half substitute, scored a 64th-minute equaliser for Klopp’s side but Virgil van Dijk’s clumsy challenge in the box eight minutes later allowed Mitrovic to restore Fulham’s lead from the penalty spot.
Mohamed Salah then drew Liverpool level in the 80th minute, as Fulham held on to secure a surprise point.
“Yeah (it was a very straightforward discussion at half-time),” Klopp said. “We started a game in a specific way which was the opposite way to which we wanted.
“We could have won the game, because we had the bigger chances obviously, but that would have been too much.”
The Klopp tapes: Analysing the Liverpool manager's interviews in German
(Photo: Getty Images)