Liverpool must find themselves “another Sadio Mane” in the transfer market this summer, according to Reds legend Jamie Carragher.
Carragher believes his former club are in a position to consistently challenge for honours if they can get their recruitment right ahead of next season.
Liverpool’s progress under Jurgen Klopp has been clear, his side having secured a top-four finish for the second season running. Their upcoming Champions League final with Real Madrid, meanwhile, offers the chance for Klopp to win his first piece of silverware at Anfield – and in the biggest competition of all.
It won’t be easy of course. Real are hoping for a third successive European Cup win and a 13th in total, while Liverpool’s squad has been stretched to its limit by injuries in recent weeks. A glance at the two teams’ likely benches in Kiev will tell you plenty.
That is something Carragher is keen to see addressed going forward; his hope is that Liverpool can add depth and quality to their attacking options, taking some of the burden off their prolific front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.
Speaking exclusively to Goal, he said: “You have to be concerned. I thought the squad was very good at the start of the season, but I think what it lacks is cover for the front three. When one of them misses out, the quality coming in is not enough.
“[Naby] Keita will add quality to the midfield, but I think we do still lack a little bit since [Philippe] Coutinho went in terms of that final pass. Defensively we’re fine in terms of numbers, but I think we need something more in the final third.”
Klopp has enjoyed considerable success in the transfer market over the past two years, with Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Andy Robertson all proving hits from last summer’s business.
But it’s a signing from 2016 that Carragher wants to see replicated this time around.
“We don’t need a striker,” he says. “We need a multi-functional player. Another Mane, if you like.
“You could probably play Mane up front if you wanted to. He can play left, right or up front, like someone like Alexis Sanchez can.
“There’s no point bringing in a striker to cover for Firmino and sitting him on the bench. You need someone who can come in and cover for one or two players with quality, start games when he needs to and compete with the others.
“As a manager it’s difficult. You bring in a squad player, and you try to find someone who is good enough to replace your starters, but happy not playing every week. There aren’t many of those players around!
“If Liverpool can find a really good attacking player who can play two or three positions, he will get games anyway. He will almost play every week. Players need resting, the manager rotates, he changes for different fixtures. It is possible to keep them happy, but you have to find the right player.”
Liverpool, Goal understands, will look to bring at least one high-quality attacking player in during the summer, as well as a creative midfielder. They have been linked with Lyon captain Nabil Fekir, although reports that a deal is already agreed for the French international are premature.
In the meantime, the Reds must prepare themselves for Kiev, and a shot at a sixth European Cup triumph. Carragher, who played such a memorable role in their last success in Istanbul back in 2005, will be there to watch the current crop go for glory on May 26. He can’t wait.
“Since I finished playing, these are my great memories,” he says. “The Europa League run in 2016 and this season. I love it.
“You just want that feeling that you’re in the mix, in with a shout every season. It’s been too long.Getty
“I always remember a Liverpool fan writing that he judges the season on the games you play in April. Are you still playing for something? Do the games still matter? If you get to mid-April and the games still mean something, it usually means you’ve had a good a season. There’s nothing worse than getting to April and May and already having to think about next season, who you’re going to buy or sell or whatever. You want to be involved in the big games.
“Thankfully, Liverpool are. Hopefully they can win one more of them!”
Klopp’s side are due to fly out to Marbella for a warm-weather training camp on Wednesday as they continue preparations for their big day. Midfielder James Milner is expected to join the travelling party after missing Sunday’s win over Brighton with a muscle problem. Liverpool have no fresh injury concerns.