January Transfer Blueprint: Liverpool

Aug 2, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel (37) keeps the ball out of the goal as AC Milan midfielder Rami Adil (13) looks for the ball during an international friendly at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 2, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel (37) keeps the ball out of the goal as AC Milan midfielder Rami Adil (13) looks for the ball during an international friendly at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports /

***The Transfer Blueprint series details what each Premier League club should be looking for as the January window approaches. Comment below with your own thoughts about what each club should acquire***

Today’s Blueprint team is Liverpool. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know they’ve recently made the switch to manager Jurgen Klopp which makes this exercise a bit more difficult. I’m not totally convinced he has a firm idea of what his best 11 is at the moment, so predictably, neither do I. Still, there is work to be done in the January window for a Liverpool team that currently occupies the eighth spot in the Premier League table.

What They Should Buy: Liverpool’s individuals have performed better than their side’s results would suggest through 11 Premier League matches. They don’t have many glaring weaknesses that can’t be addressed with current squad members playing up to their full potential. Yet if you have the wage bill that Liverpool does and sit in the eighth spot, you do need to buy some players.

They should start by addressing their centre back partnership. Martin Skrtel has been solid as ever this season, but the status of his partner does worry me. Dejan Lovren entered the season as the favored partner for Skrtel, but quickly lost his place to Mamadou Sakho.

I find it unlikely that Lovren will rediscover his Southampton form or that Sakho can hold up for 20 some more games as a top-notch defender so Klopp and his transfer committee would be wise to add a quality player there. Doesn’t have to be a high-priced, world-class defender but you’d like someone who could beat Sakho out of a job.

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Defensive midfield is also an area of concern as I look over the Liverpool squad. Emre Can has a great deal of potential and a good relationship with Klopp, but his play has been very mediocre. Lucas Leiva might not be the most dynamic midfielder of all-time but he’s been rock solid through 11 games. I’m optimistic that Can can raise his game under Klopp. He is only 21-years-old so expecting improvement from him is entirely reasonable.

Whether you believe in Can or not, there is zero healthy cover behind the two defensive midfielders. Liverpool must purchase additional quality and cover if they want to institute Klopp’s pressing style of play. They will simply wear Leiva and Can out otherwise. Again, I don’t think they need to make any huge purchase here. They simply need to add to their stable of talent.

In attack, Liverpool is blessed with a good deal of individual talent. I believe Christian Benteke is one of the best strikers in the Premier League, if not the world. He does, however need a backup purchase after the injuries to Daniel Sturridge and Danny Ings. Please don’t talk to me about Divock Origi in this role either. He has posted an anemic 6.11 Whoscored.com rating on the season. He isn’t the answer. He might not even be good enough to know the question.

The ideal purchase would be an established veteran who can contribute spot starts and bench minutes. Ironically, someone just like Rickie Lambert was supposed to be for this team last year. Ings and Sturridge will come back and perhaps Origi will become useful, so you’re just looking for a rental.

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  • The attacking midfield features some real quality but it’s been under achieving thus far. Adam Lallana isn’t performing well enough to start as a No. 10 ever week and Roberto Firmino has been maddeningly inconsistent as well. James Milner and Philippe Coutinho have been steady, if unspectacular. I think it’s a solid bet that either Lallana or Firmino can figure it out, so I’d recommend staying pat at this position.

    What They Should Sell: Given their injury problems, they really don’t have the squad depth to make any significant sales. If I were them, I would seriously consider putting Lallana on the transfer block. He’s still relatively young, English and marketable so he could command a pretty hefty transfer fee. If they could receive an offer close to what they paid for him originally they should be able to reinvest it in a better player. I doubt they posses the nerve to go through with a bold move like this, but this section is called what they should sell for a reason.

    What They Will Do: Liverpool fans desperately want me to write they will purchase the likes of Marco Rues and Ikay Gundogan in this space. Well sorry to crush your hopes and dreams but I don’t see that happening. It’s possible that Klopp will leverage his relationship with a former player but I don’t think it will be the superstar the Anfield faithful crave.

    Instead, I think you will see them move to purchase a few young prospects that Klopp can mold in his image. It’ll be a path like what Tottenham has done with Mauricio Pochettino. Liverpool should buy young, talented, but pliable prospects. I think you’ll see an addition or two in midfield and one in attack. Again, no one Earth shattering, but high upside talents that intelligent Liverpool fans can fully support.