Liverpool prepared for the 2017/18 campaign with the knowledge that UEFA Champions League football would be added to their calendar for the first time in three years.
This welcome piece of knowledge also came with a burden of sorts: the urgent need to bolster a squad whose depth was tested in a season where there was no European football to consider, and one where The Reds needed the final day of Premier League action to cement a UEFA Champions League place.
Liverpool begun their summer spending with the acquisition of AS Roma winger Mohamed Salah, who returns to the Premier League after an unsuccessful stint with Chelsea in 2014.
The purchase of the Egypt international was soon followed by another former Chelsea player, this time in the form of England under-21 international Dominic Solanke.
Andrew Robertson arrived from Hull City to provide competition for central-midfielder-turned-left-back James Milner and out-of-favour Alberto Moreno, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s deadline day arrival from Arsenal came out of left-field.
To complete Liverpool’s transfer window and break the club record for the most splashed out on one player, they finally clinched a deal for RB Leipzig’s all-rounder Naby Keita by activating his £48 million release clause. However, Reds fans will have to wait until next season to see the Guinea international turn out at Anfield.
Lucas Leiva and Mamadou Sakho were the two biggest players to finalise permanent moves away from the club, with the former ending a 10-year association with the club by moving to Lazio, while the latter’s future away from Liverpool was academic after a fallout with Jurgen Klopp, joining Crystal Palace.
Ranking – C
For all the flair, pace and creativity that Liverpool have added (and will add) to the side with the purchases of Mohamed Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita, their failure to land a deal for Virgil van Dijk (or any quality centre-half) was always going to be brought up at one point.
And what better time to bring up a lack of defensive reinforcements than during a time when Liverpool are suffering from the same old mishaps from last season?
Jurgen Klopp’s side have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last seven games, including a 5-0 embarassment from Manchester City, and have already shipped in 12 goals from the first seven Premier League games – that’s the joint third worst defensive record in the league so far.
Now, would signing Virgil van Dijk have solved all of Liverpool’s problems? Probably not, but it doesn’t change the fact that Jurgen Klopp had the opportunity to at least try to improve a glaringly weak area of the squad, and didn’t.
The timing of this article may appear to correlate to the ‘C’ ranking for some, but it doesn’t take much to realise that Liverpool, at least on paper, are thinner than any of their top-six rivals.
Jurgen Klopp will persist with high-octane and exciting football, providing entertainment in abundance for the neutrals, but Liverpool fans will continue to watch their side in perpetual anxiety until some kind of alteration is made and, judging by this transfer window, that won’t be happening any time soon.