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Goalkeeper, holding midfielder, playmaker - Hamann lists Liverpool's summer transfer needs

4:55 AM EST 2/2/18
Alisson Milinkovic-Savic Fekir
The former Reds player has highlighted the key areas that Jurgen Klopp needs to improve on for the club to challenge for honours

Liverpool need to recruit a top-class goalkeeper and a holding midfielder in the summer, as well as find an adequate replacement for Philippe Coutinho if they are to seriously challenge for honours, according to Dietmar Hamann.

The German, who represented the Anfield side for seven years, believes boxing off those three core areas is essential as the Reds aim to restore themselves as a force, domestically and on the continent.

Coutinho was sold to Barcelona for £142 million last month, the third-highest transfer fee in world football, with Jurgen Klopp opting not to replace him yet.

Hamann agrees with the manager’s sentiment that the loss of such a rare player is difficult to rectify mid-season, but he expects Liverpool to add a signing of similar creative output in the next window.

“Coutinho was the heartbeat of the offensive line,” the 44-year-old, speaking on behalf of TAG Heuer, told Goal.

“Over the next few months is when we’ll really see what a big loss he is. As good as Sadio Mane was last season, as good as Mohamed Salah has been this season, I think Coutinho was the one who put them through and got them into the positions they needed to be in. He tied it together.

“Coutinho couldn't be replaced in January, because he is a rare, super-talented player, but it will be easier work to do in the summer.”

Hamann, who operated in the centre of the pitch for Liverpool, has implored the club to bring in a more defensive-minded option in midfield.

“Klopp has a talented group there at the moment, but if you look at them - Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum, Emre Can, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana - they are all more offensive players. You need a proper holding midfielder and that needs to be addressed in the next window.

“Even Naby Keita, who is coming in is a fantastic player, but also one that wants to drive the play, get into the box and score goals.

“Lucas did well in the defensive-minded role before he got on a bit, but it now needs to be filled to give more freedom to the club’s fantastic attacking talent.

“If you concede, it’s not always the fault of the back four or the goalkeeper, you have to assess the whole team and a holding midfielder would add more stability and protection.”

Hamann, who won nine trophies with Liverpool including the Champions League, also wants to see the Merseysiders elevate their personnel between the sticks.

“The other big position to improve on is the goalkeeper,” he said. “It will be very hard for Simon Mignolet to be the No.1 keeper again for the club. If Loris Karius doesn’t get injured, he’ll stay in and then you have to assess the best options in the summer.

“In Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool have a player who will help with greater solidity; he brings physical presence, intelligence, pace and he is comfortable in possession, but they need to strengthen around him as well.”

The Reds host Tottenham on Sunday in an encounter that could be decisive in the top-four chase. Spurs recorded a hugely impressive 2-0 victory over Manchester United in midweek, but Hamann feels his former club will be looking to avenge their Wembley humiliation at Anfield.

“Liverpool are in the driving seat, but Spurs are very resilient and have also shown they have the ability to win tight games,” he said.

“Even though they’ve fallen short in really challenging for the Premier League, they’ve done outstandingly well.

“Liverpool had that bad game at Wembley, where you felt they were never really in the contest, because by half-time, it was lost already.

“They have to start a lot stronger and will want to make amends for that 4-1 loss.”

Hamann was promoting the TAG Heuer Premier League Pressure Test. TAG Heuer is the Official Timekeeping Partner of the Premier League