Fabio Carvalho will wear the No.28 shirt for Liverpool.
The Portugal U21 international joins Jürgen Klopp’s team this summer having been a key figure in Fulham’s Championship victory and promotion last term.
The forward is set to wear the No.28 jersey for his new club, with defender Ben Davies switching to No.24 in the process.
Other previous wearers of the shirt for Liverpool include Steven Gerrard, Danny Ings and Stephen Warnock.
From Jude Bellingham to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita’s contract situation, pre-season plans, the academy youngsters in contention for a senior breakthrough in 2022-23 and the stadium redevelopment, you wanted to know about a wide range of topics in our latest mailbag.
Thanks very much for all your questions and sorry if yours wasn’t selected this time.
Mohamed Salah’s future might now be assured after the 30-year-old signed a new three-year deal worth £350,000 a week but there’s plenty more to get stuck into.
Let’s dive in…
What are the return dates for the players in pre-season? (Andrew O)
It will be a staggered return. Those who didn’t go away on international duty after the end of last season will report back to Kirkby on Monday — just over five weeks after the Champions League final defeat by Real Madrid.
Jurgen Klopp has given those who were involved in Nations League and friendly international games in June some extra time off. I believe they will link up with the squad on July 9 for the flight to Thailand.
Will there be any more signings? I feel like Oxlade-Chamberlain should be replaced. (Adi M)
With the window open for another two months, I don’t think anyone can say with any certainty that there will be no more incomings. However, as things stand, senior Anfield figures have indicated that they don’t expect any further signings.
Klopp is happy with what he’s got. Strengthening the midfield is obviously a hot topic of debate but unless they can recruit the right player at the right price they’ll wait until next summer to further bolster that department.
As for Oxlade-Chamberlain, Liverpool won’t stand in his way if they receive an acceptable offer and he decides he wants to move on in search of regular game time elsewhere. The 28-year-old, who has a year left on his contract, is valued at around £10 million.Oxlade-Chamberlain will be allowed to leave if the right offer comes in (Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Oxlade-Chamberlain endured a difficult final few months of last season when he fell out of favour completely, but some of the contributions he made before that, especially during the Africa Cup of Nations, shouldn’t be forgotten. He played 29 times (17 starts) in 2021-22. Unless he pushes for a move, he will stay as a squad player.
Jude Bellingham. Is it likely? If so this year or next year? (Colm O)
Very interested. The England midfielder is a class act and it’s hard to believe he’s only just turned 19. However, he won’t be leaving Borussia Dortmund this summer. Having already sold Erling Haaland to Manchester City, the Bundesliga club don’t intend to lose another star name in the same window.
There will be serious competition for Bellingham’s signature in 2023. Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester United are also in the race, with reports in Germany this week suggesting it would take €120 million (£103 million) to sign him. Bellingham doesn’t have a release clause and has three years left on his contract.
Liverpool will certainly be in the conversation and it helps that Bellingham has a good relationship with captain Jordan Henderson from their time together with England.
I don’t think that fee would scare Liverpool off as you’re talking about a player who could be at the heart of their midfield for a decade. However, the wage demands could be a potential stumbling block.
I’m a bit confused as to the plan with Nat Phillips. How come there’s talk of loaning him rather than selling? (Robin B)
Liverpool value Phillips at around £15 million. Bournemouth want to keep him after his impressive loan spell helped them clinch promotion back to the Premier League but they don’t want to pay that much and would prefer another loan.
Phillips is set to start pre-season with Liverpool and then his future should become clearer in the next few weeks. If there’s not an acceptable permanent offer for the 25-year-old centre-back then Liverpool will sanction another temporary move for a loan fee.Phillips training in pre-season with Liverpool in July 2021 (Photo: John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
I’m not aware of any plans at this stage to loan Gordon out. The gifted winger is still only 17. He impressed everyone with his maturity as well as his ability when he stepped up to the senior ranks last season.
If he has a good pre-season I can see him playing a bigger role for Klopp this time around, especially given the departures of Sadio Mane, Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi.
Regarding Darwin Nunez, will he adjust to Liverpool levels of pressing or will Klopp plan something more ‘laidback’ this season? Generally, are any tactical changes expected already? (Kostis P)
Liverpool’s mantra of “our identity is intensity” won’t change. Darwin Nunez will adjust to what’s demanded from him off the ball — Klopp and his staff don’t have any concerns about that. How quickly he starts games is down to him but I don’t envisage a long adaptation period. I think he’s got all the attributes required to make a massive impression at Anfield.
Nunez’s arrival does give Klopp the option of playing 4-2-3-1 more regularly with the Uruguay frontman as the focal point. You could have Luis Diaz on the left, Salah on the right and then Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino or Fabio Carvalho as the No 10 operating behind Nunez. But he won’t just ditch playing 4-3-3. The manager wants his team to be unpredictable so there are bound to be tactical tweaks for the season ahead.Liverpool hope big-money signing Darwin Nunez will hit the ground running (Photo: Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Twelve months ago we saw Trent Alexander-Arnold’s role evolve with Salah staying wide more often and the right-back occupying more central areas when attacking. Klopp and Lijnders also brought in the guys from Neuro11 to work on the mental side of taking penalties, free kicks and corners. That relationship will continue and it will be intriguing to see what’s added to the mix this time around.
Do you think the squad is not as strong as last year? (James A)
Liverpool have lost Mane, Origi and Minamino, and gained Nunez, Carvalho and Calvin Ramsay. Answering that question is tricky at this stage as we don’t know what kind of impact the new boys will make. But from what I’ve seen of them previously I don’t believe the squad will be weaker.
I thought Klopp would sign another midfielder this summer (obviously Carvalho can play there as well as further forward). We know they were very keen on Aurelien Tchouameni before he opted for Real Madrid so it’s not like they aren’t looking at possibilities.
Centre midfield is the only area where I’d question the depth. But if Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones kick on like Liverpool hope they will and Thiago stays fit, then Klopp should have enough quality in that department for the challenges ahead.
Do we think Sadio Mane did LFC a favour saying he wasn’t extending early so we could make some money on him? (Rich B)
I wouldn’t say Mane did Liverpool a favour, it was just the way things turned out.
The situation with Salah was different because the Egyptian always wanted to stay but only if he got a contract offer which he felt recognised his status in world football. In contrast, Mane was reluctant to hold talks over a new deal. His head was turned by the offer of a new challenge and a bumper pay rise at Bayern Munich. He left on good terms and rightly so because he gave Liverpool six years of brilliant service.Mane moved to Germany with Liverpool’s blessing (Photo: S. Mellar/FC Bayern via Getty Images)
Mane could have sat tight and left on a free in 2023 but he didn’t want to wait and Liverpool ultimately got what they wanted from Bayern with that £35 million deal.
One thing Liverpool had to avoid was losing Mane and Salah in the same window. That would have left a huge void. Salah would have stayed put this summer, regardless of his new deal. With the signings of Jota, Diaz and Nunez, we’re seeing the gradual evolution of Klopp’s frontline but Salah is still the main man.
What’s happening with Joe Gomez? (Harvey J)
Liverpool hope Gomez will stay and sign a new contract. The 25-year-old’s current deal runs until 2024.
It was a tough season for Gomez with Ibrahima Konate’s impact and Joel Matip’s resurgence limiting his game time. He only made four league starts in 2021-22 but he’s still got so much to offer. Liverpool know he wants to play more regularly but it would take a big offer for them to even consider selling.
Why haven’t Liverpool been able to keep Naby Keita injury free and why offer him a new contract given his injury record? (Philip M)
Liverpool are looking to get Naby Keita tied down to a new contract and talks are ongoing. I know he divides opinion among fans but I thought for the most part he did very well in the second half of last season.
As for his injury record, of course it’s frustrating and he’s had a lot of misfortune. However, he still made 40 appearances in all competitions in 2021-22. As well as the fact Klopp still believes in him, a new deal protects the 27-year-old’s value. Otherwise you risk losing a £52.75 million signing for nothing in 2023.
Any idea why Michael Edwards left? (John H)
Edwards made it clear that he felt the time was right to step away and have a break after a decade of service to the club. It’s a stressful role and he’s got a young family.
I think the fact there was a gradual handover to Julian Ward over the course of last season proved that it was all very amicable behind the scenes.
The owners were gutted to lose Edwards but understood his reasons for not wanting to sign a new contract. He’s been inundated with job offers and I’m not surprised that Premier League rivals are lining up to employ him. Last I heard he was going to take some time out. He’s earned it.
What are the expectations for Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott this season? With no major midfield signings it seems like Klopp is betting on one (or both) to step up in a big way this season. (Sam C)
Elliott was starting Premier League games on merit before that horrible afternoon at Elland Road. He did brilliantly to get back so soon but I think it was always going to be this coming season when we saw the best of him again. If Elliott performs like he can in that midfield role then he’s going to be a huge asset as he’s incredibly gifted.It will be a big season for youngsters Elliott and Jones (Photo: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Jones is a couple of years older and in many ways this actually feels like a bigger season for him. Consistency was an issue for him in 2021-22. He went from starting to not even making the bench at times. He’s got so much potential but it needs to be fulfilled on a regular basis.
Klopp loves versatility in players. Elliott and Jones can both operate out wide but I think most of their game time will be in midfield.
How long is Kelleher going to be happy as a back-up? (Drew L).
Caoimhin Kelleher is developing into a fantastic goalkeeper. He will undoubtedly be a number one at the top level in the coming years but Liverpool want to hold on to him as long as possible because he’s a brilliant deputy for Alisson. It was a smart move by Klopp giving him the honour of starting the Carabao Cup final and that faith was rewarded.
Kelleher is still only 23 so hopefully it will be another year at least before he moves on. The goalkeeping department will have a new look to it this season with Marcelo Pitaluga loaned out and Loris Karius having left on a free. Adrian, Klopp’s third choice, has one more year on his contract.
What did you have for lunch today James? (Dimitri A) Are you vegan? (Peter S).
Finally, the big issues!! Chicken and salad, and definitely not a big bag of pickled onion Monster Munch on the side.
I’ve signed up for the Great North Run, a half-marathon, in September so desperately trying to shift some weight before stepping up the training runs. Peter, no vegans here I’m afraid. I just love steak too much.
With the mid-season break due to the World Cup, has there been any word regarding LFC’s plans for the players who will not be part of the tournament? (Lee S).
Nothing decided yet but I’d expect that month to be a mix of time off to rest and then a training camp. It’s going to be such a strange period for the likes of Diaz, Salah and Andy Robertson.
After playing on the weekend of November 12/13, Liverpool’s next Premier League fixture will be on Boxing Day – eight days after the World Cup final.
How is Anfield’s redevelopment coming along? (Tehchad K) Any plans to upgrade the Sir Kenny Dalglish stand and the Kop? (Rami N)
The £80 million redevelopment of the Anfield Road end is really taking shape and remains on course to be completed in time for the start of the 2023-24 season. It will add around 7,000 extra seats, taking Anfield’s capacity to around 61,000. Around 5,000 of the extra seats will be general admission with another 2,000 in new hospitality lounges.
Liverpool have around 20,000 supporters on a season-ticket waiting list, which has been closed to new applications since 2011. I asked managing director Andy Hughes about the possibility of expanding other parts of the stadium a few months ago and he said that wasn’t under discussion.
Do you feel that FSG are wasting the four years that they have left with one of the top three coaches in the world by not giving him what he exactly wants right now in order to win the Premier League again? (Vinnie J)
Let’s not forget Liverpool are coming off the back of a season when they won two cups, missed out on the Premier League title by one point and were unfortunate to lose the Champions League final to Real Madrid. I certainly don’t think Fenway Sports Group is wasting Klopp’s best years and neither does the manager.
He only signed that new contract in April because of the strong relationship he has with the owners and his belief that more great days lie ahead. I asked Tom Werner before the Champions League final and he was clear that FSG remains committed for the long-term.
I understand the frustration among fans at times because Liverpool can’t complete financially with Manchester City but nothing has changed on that front. FSG continues to do what it has always done, reinvest all the money generated by Liverpool back into the club rather than taking anything out. The wage bill has rocketed over the past five or six years.
It was only a few weeks ago when FSG sanctioned the £85 million deal for Nunez. And now Salah is the best-paid player in the club’s history.FSG has pushed the boat out to agree a new £350,000-a-week deal for Salah (Photo: John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Do you think there will be any hangover from last season considering how hard we pushed in all competitions? Do you think it will be difficult to push like that again, especially after falling just short in the last week? (Cameron D)
It’s a good question. Of course there was heartbreak with missing out on the Premier League and the Champions League in such quick succession. And it will certainly be tough to maintain a challenge on all fronts like that again — no club had ever come so close to pulling off the Quadruple. But I honestly don’t think there will be a hangover.
Speaking to staff and players after the season had finished, they were all buoyed massively by that parade through the streets of the city. They didn’t know what to expect after losing the final but the reaction from the fans, with 500,000 people turning out, blew them away.
It meant they all went off for the summer on an emotional high rather than a crushing low. When you throw into the mix Klopp’s famed motivational skills and the lift provided by the new arrivals, I don’t see any lingering feelings from 2021-22 holding Liverpool back this time around.
(Top photo: Markus Gilliar/Getty Images)
Julian Ward's task at Liverpool is a simple one, at least on paper. Build a team for the future and herald the next generation of Liverpool stars.
So far, the club's new sporting director has acted promptly, securing three first team signings for the club all under the age of 23 while also bringing in exciting academy players like Ben Doak and Trent Kone-Doherty.
But Ward's task is far from finished, and his next mission is to rejuvenate Liverpool's midfield options. In the midfield department, the Reds currently have an ageing core, and sooner or later they will have to be replaced.
Ward will have to search elsewhere, but he will be mindful that Bellingham will likely cost Liverpool a fortune. If the club do secure his services, he will take away a significant chunk of the club's transfer budget. That could see the new sporting director turn to alternative solutions and under-the-radar options which could lead him to Leeds United's latest signing, Brenden Aaronson. Or more specifically, his brother, Paxten.
The 18-year-old is currently enjoying a fruitful campaign at Philadelphia Union and has already racked up 26 senior appearances for the club. A versatile player with an eye for goal from midfield and the creativity and energy to dominate the centre of the park, Paxten — like his older brother — has the work-rate and the intensity to suit Jürgen Klopp's regime at the club.
In the past, Liverpool were linked with Brenden, but Paxten could be an even bigger talent. The Aaronsons' former coach, Omid Namazi, told First Time Finish that Paxten was ahead of his older brother and often pushed him to get better while they were growing up and that he expects him to be playing in Europe soon.
"Paxten was ahead and always pushed Brenden. They trained together and that helped Brenden get better and better and I see Paxten making his way abroad too. That brotherly competition helped him get better."
If Liverpool wanted to get a younger talent, then Paxten Aaronson could be an intriguing target for the club's midfield, and one who would not cost the Reds a fortune either. It seems to fit with the emerging Julian Ward blueprint.
At the same time, with Paxten regarded as one of the USMNT's brightest prospects, he would also be an alluring candidate from FSG's perspective, with the club's American owners knowing full well that Paxten's presence could bring new marketing opportunities. Bringing another Aaronson to the Premier League could end up making sense on all levels for Liverpool.
It won't sink in for a while. Sadio Mané's departure from Anfield still feels surreal and unfathomable. But Liverpool's former winger is no longer contracted to the club and now the Reds have to build towards a new future.
Over the summer, Julian Ward has strengthened the side with three signings to the first team all under the age of 23 and Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool will undergo an evolution of sorts in pre-season. In the 2022/23 season, there will be a new kind of Liverpool built on the pillars of the old guard but also sparked into a new lease of life by the club's exciting emerging youngsters.
That change has been acutely defined by Harvey Elliott. As a kid, only a few years ago, he was someone who looked up to Mané for inspiration and idolised the Liverpool icon. Now having become teammates with the club legend for a brief period, he will also have the opportunity to follow in his footsteps.
Liverpool have announced Elliott will wear the number 19 next season, formerly worn by Mané at the club. Speaking about the inspiration for the change to the club's official website, Elliott named Mané as the biggest influence.
"I remember having a Sadio shirt with the number 19 on it as a kid. So to be able to wear it after him, it's a great pleasure.
"At the end of the day, a number is just a number, but it's just nice to have a lower number. I think it's a great opportunity going into another season."
Many were a little too impatient with Elliott towards the end of last season. The teenager was still recovering from a serious injury and it was always going to take him time to bounce back. But if the Liverpool midfielder can reconjure the kind of form he demonstrated prior to his injury, Klopp could have one formidable player among his ranks — someone who will not only be an integral member of Liverpool's future but also a crucial component of the club's season ahead.
Last season, Elliott averaged the most shot-creating-actions (5.46) per 90, and was a major creative influence in Liverpool's midfield. Towards the end of the season, Liverpool often lacked that spark in the final third and didn't really manage to create a lot of clear-cut opportunities from midfield. If Elliott can post similar numbers from a much bigger sample next season, he could easily end up becoming almost like another new signing, especially if Klopp decides to operate in a 4-2-3-1 system.
With a new number taken from one of his idols, the motivation and the incentive is all there. Now it's simply up to Elliott to put in the work and grab his chance.
Speculation that Liverpool were to end their transfer business early after landing both Darwin Núñez and Calvin Ramsay was met with mixed responses from fans, though waiting to assess options could now look to be the smarter move from FSG.
Reports have suggested that Borussia Dortmund have no intention of letting Jude Bellingham go for less than £103m this summer. Given that he is contracted at the Bundesliga club until 2025, there are no guarantees that his price tag will fall by then — especially after a season in which he could shine, both in Europe and at the Qatar World Cup later this year.
Liverpool's acquisition of Núñez shows that FSG are still willing to spend big on the right player, but a move for Bellingham would be much more risky than the move for the Uruguay international. That could see Jürgen Klopp begin to consider alternatives, and Frenkie De Jong looks perfect for the Reds' system.
Manchester United have recently agreed a £56m initial fee for the 25-year-old Netherlands international, who would be joining them at his prime — should personal terms be agreed. Some rumours have suggested that De Jong isn't keen on making the switch from his dream club to Old Trafford, particularly for a side who aren't in the Champions League, and can't guarantee a top four finish next season.
With Bellingham costing almost double De Jong's initial fee, and almost quadruple the amount the Reds parted ways with for Thiago Alcântara, the smart business could be to pass on the 19-year-old midfielder. Of course, while he is younger than De Jong, he is still yet to reach world class level — and might not. Jadon Sancho arrived in the Premier League last season after looking unstoppable in the Bundesliga, a warning sign that the hype over England international prospects can be misleading.
Liverpool have already welcomed Fábio Carvalho this season, while Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott are also still progressing. For Klopp, it may make more sense to acquire a player already proven rather than to take a nine-figure chance on a player who is yet to show whether he can make the leap to world class status — a term that is often loosely thrown around over young players.
The power-shift that Klopp has orchestrated has seen Liverpool and Manchester United almost swap positions from where the club was prior to his arrival. The Reds must take advantage of that element while they can — even if that means making a U-turn on a transfer stance that looks too cautious in the wake of an opportunity to sign one of the world's best midfielders. De Jong, for a £56m initial fee, is a respectable move in today's market.
The Barcelona star would join a team that will eventually be captained by Virgil van Dijk, and Liverpool could even negotiate a better deal with the Blaugrana by loaning him back to them for the first season, allowing Jordan Henderson and Naby Keïta to maintain the top two spots in the battle for places in the final midfield slot. That would see De Jong arrive on Merseyside in June 2023, having just turned 26 years old.
As well as landing a player who could re-define Klopp's midfield, FSG would also have funds left over to reinforce other areas — particularly after Liverpool's owners showed their intent to maintain dominance on the global stage, Mohamed Salah having signed a new three-year deal that was announced on Friday evening.
Pep Guardiola's signing of Erling Haaland could have seen the gap between the two best sides in the Premier League extend this summer, but Liverpool have yet again refused to let them get away. The signing of Frenkie De Jong could be the catalyst for edging the Reds into pole position for the league crown.
This inevitably includes criticism, praise, or something in between, of a club’s ownership.
For example, Man United’s owners, the Glazer family, who are up there with the worst owners in the league, have recently been in line for criticism for once again paying themselves dividends out of the club’s coffers.
They are the only Premier League owners who do so.
This got me thinking about how Liverpool FC is run and the club’s owners, Fenway Sports Group; about football ownership in general at the top level of the game, and especially about recent decisions that didn’t go down well with the fanbase.
In particular, it took me back to an article I wrote about the club furloughing staff in April 2020, after Covid first hit.
That was probably the last time we were so idle in a football sense, but it was an enforced break rather than an off-season, and there wasn’t even an open transfer window to keep us going.Furloughs and fan groups
Many clubs, including Liverpool, made the decision to utilise the government’s furlough scheme, giving football writers who had no football to write about the chance to really go to town on a bad decision taken by the club they report on.
I wrote one such article for this site, and though I stand by what I wrote, on reading it back immediately after publication I asked for a couple of bits to be removed that I thought were unfair to the owners, who I think overall have been good for the club, helping it retain some tradition (not least Anfield itself) while at the same time making sure the club can move forward and continue (or as was the case when they arrived, return to) competing at the top level.
That said, the decision to furlough staff was still a bad one in the grand scheme of things, and as time has passed we can now delve more into the reasons why.
In hindsight, it’s possible FSG genuinely thought they were doing the right thing by utilising the government’s furlough scheme, to make sure staff were still paid when football stopped after the pandemic first hit.
There may have been a blind spot for them and a lack of political advice or guidance within their circles on labour issues in the context of UK politics, especially under a Conservative government (though even the Labour party itself seems to have problems with this at the moment!).
But, ultimately, people seemed to trust football club owners such as FSG to continue to pay their workers more than they trusted the Conservatives to assist workers without it being paid back tenfold further down the line – in the shape of extra hours worked in some sectors, lower or stagnated pay and a higher cost of living.
This is something which, little more than two years later, is now happening, with the government using Covid and (shamefully) the war in Ukraine as their excuse to target working people.
But back to FSG, and back to FSG backtracking, which they have on several things from ticket prices to furlough to the Super League fiasco – this could show two things:
The main thing that would have prevented the need for so many U-turns is prior fan consultation, and this is something the club have worked to improve – the new supporters’ board, for example.
It’s something all clubs can always improve upon, but the way Liverpool is run and its predominantly left-leaning fan base in the city means practical political assets, ideas and processes – including a supporters’ union, Spirit of Shankly – already exist.
This means they have stakeholders whose experiences and expertise they can draw upon, and the club have since improved dialogue with fan groups and representatives.
But this needs to be an ongoing process, and the enthusiasm for this shouldn’t be dampened as the Super League saga fades into the distance.Sporting direction
I think the best way to recruit for a top-level football club is to invest in youth football in the local area, building a state-of-the-art academy that supports players on and off the pitch with the intention of producing first-team players, while also topping up the team with the most suitable star players (or would-be star players) from around the globe.
This is pretty much what Liverpool now do.
They have invested in the facilities as well as the first team, and their recruitment is sensible, sustainable and also very effective.
They have reached a point where they are able to use the fees from players sold to almost entirely fund incoming transfers.
Even if some of those players signed and sold haven’t made the first team, in most cases they have improved and retained or increased their value, which in itself is good recruitment and provides a base from which to start a process that can almost be seen as trading one player for another.
This is perhaps no surprise given FSG’s background in baseball and their early adoption of recruitment methods which valued certain stats and data produced by certain players that give a team more of a chance of winning games.
It sounds simple, but football, like baseball, was entrenched in old scouting methods – hunches rather than clear judgement and research – which led to some questionable recruitment decisions.
Thanks to FSG, there’s now a combination of traditional scouting and advanced data that serves the club well.
While some clubs, such as Brentford and maybe Brighton, have used such methods to lift themselves to the Premier League and more than hold their own against the odds, Liverpool are a club that apply these methods at the top level of the game, with impressive results.
In the most recent campaign, they managed to finish just one point behind a Man City team who in any normal season would be runaway Premier League winners, while also winning both domestic cups and reaching a Champions League final.
It was their first FA Cup win in 16 years, following on from recent seasons in which the club won their first Premier League title in 30 years, their first-ever Club World Cup, another Champions League and a UEFA Super Cup for good measure.
The idea is often put forward (including sometimes by me) that the club don’t quite have enough depth in the squad at the start of each season.
But you don’t complete and compete in every game it’s possible to play, and for every trophy it’s possible to win – as Liverpool did in 2021/22 – if you have a weak squad.The future
When approaching the transfer window like Football Manager or Fantasy Football, it’s easy to forget the human side of managing a big squad and the practical side of transfers, as well as homegrown player quotas and matchday squad size.
Liverpool are also building a squad for the future with the arrival of players such as Diogo Jota, Harvey Elliott, Ibrahima Konate, Luis Diaz, Darwin Nunez, Fabio Carvalho and Calvin Ramsay – who are all 25 or under going into the new season.
These elite young players need games, or else they will never progress and there will have been no point in signing them or building that academy structure in the first place.
It’s important to continue to hold owners to account as, given the historical importance of clubs like Liverpool and others around the globe, they should see themselves as custodians of an institution rather than just shareholders in a company or owners of a sports franchise.
With the redevelopment of Anfield and the club’s training ground and academy at Kirkby, FSG appear to be realising this, if they didn’t already, and putting the club on a good footing for future challenges.
Bill Shankly once said: “At a football club there’s a holy trinity – the players, the manager and the supporters. Directors don’t come into it. They are only there to sign the cheques.”
Maybe this quote’s appearance on Liverpool’s official website, suggests the owners fully agree.
Liverpool have confirmed the 19 players that will start pre-season at the AXA Training Center on Monday, and it includes two summer signings.
After more than five weeks on from the conclusion of last season, the Reds will regroup on Monday for the start of their preparations for campaign to come.
Like most years, there will be a staggered start to training after international games were played throughout the summer, leaving Jurgen Klopp with 19 senior players to start.
The squad will reconvene at Kirkby before seeing the international contingent arrive later in the week, with a trip to Thailand and Singapore then quickly on the agenda for games on July 12 and 15.
And the first day is to see both Fabio Carvalho and Calvin Ramsay both kickstart their Liverpool careers after sealing their move to the club from Fulham and Aberdeen respectively.
They are to be joined by experienced figures like Jordan Henderson, Roberto Firmino, Thiago, Joel Matip, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
It is the first pre-season for Luis Diaz after his arrival in January, while Sepp van den Berg is back with the group after his successful loan spell at Preston.
Fellow loanees from last season, Nat Phillips, Ben Davies and Neco Williams are also to be involved despite question marks over their future.
And Harvey Elliott, Ibrahima Konate and Caoimhin Kelleher are in from the start despite their international commitments during the summer.
The remainder of the squad, including Virgil van Dijk, Mo Salah, Alisson, Fabinho, Andy Robertson, Diogo Jota and Trent Alexander-Arnold will filter in later in the week.
Liverpool have six pre-season games confirmed and will first travel to Thailand and Singapore before making their way to Austria for a training camp, with Germany and a return to England to follow.Liverpool squad back for pre-season on Monday
Goalkeepers: Kelleher, Adrian
Defenders: Matip, Konate, Gomez, Phillips, Van den Berg, Davies, Ramsay R. Williams, N. Williams
Midfielders: Henderson, Thiago, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain
Forwards: Carvalho, Diaz, Elliott, Firmino
Liverpool will begin their pre-season programme when 19 senior players return to the AXA Training Centre on Monday.
The Reds’ preparations for the 2022-23 campaign are set to get under way with initial sessions in Kirkby before the tour of Bangkok and Singapore that starts next weekend.
Summer arrivals Fabio Carvalho and Calvin Ramsay will be among those beginning work under Jürgen Klopp and his coaches this coming week.
Liverpool will face Manchester United on July 12 and Crystal Palace three days later, before fixtures at RB Leipzig on July 21 and Red Bull Salzburg on July 27.
They take on Manchester City in the Community Shield on July 30 – at King Power Stadium – and wrap up their pre-season schedule against RC Strasbourg Alsace at Anfield the following day.
Players returning for pre-season on July 4: Adrian, Carvalho, Davies, Diaz, Elliott, Firmino, Gomez, Henderson, Kelleher, Konate, Matip, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Phillips, Ramsay, Thiago, N. Williams, R. Williams, Van den Berg.
The remaining members of the squad will join pre-season training later in the week following their international commitments during the summer.
Liverpool's midfield has often been questioned by pundits, with some even doubting the ability of Thiago Alcântara when he arrived on Merseyside from Bayern Munich. But after his most impressive season yet in the red of his current employers, he is now set for a defining campaign in which his performances could determine whether FSG got their biggest call of the summer right.
As Mohamed Salah becomes the highest-paid player in the squad, with some reports suggesting he will now earn around £350,000-per-week, the rationale behind Liverpool's decision to turn away from the transfer market in the search for a new centre-midfield star has perhaps been unveiled.
Thiago looks set to define the Reds' campaign next season. In a midfield that has so often relied upon a tireless engine that can outrun opponents into submission, the Spain international has helped Jürgen Klopp's central trio evolve, providing a level of class that can't be replicated — at least until FSG give the green light for the recruitment team to strike on their marquee signing.
With Thiago a player who can keep Liverpool operating at the highest level in the most challenging of clashes, keeping him fit is now an ultimate priority. When he's absent, it's clear that the opposition have much more success in crafting chances and gaining an edge in the midfield battle, and the outcome is similar in matches where he isn't 100 per cent — as seen in the Champions League final.
That presents a difficult challenge to Klopp, who must find a way to keep him available for the most important games of the season. Of course, in a Premier League era where 97 points can't guarantee lifting the trophy, every match could be seen as equally crucial, though the Reds have to trust the younger players at some point.
A strong start to life on Merseyside for Fábio Carvalho could see him begin to develop in the Thiago role, while Curtis Jones should continue to make new strides after 15 Premier League appearances last season.
But it's a matter of years before either can fulfil any potential to a ceiling as high as a player who is one of the best conductors in football. For now, only Thiago can fully play his specific role in Klopp's system. Where Jordan Henderson and Naby Keïta are more aggressive in their press and desire to win the ball back, the former Barcelona midfielder looks more calculated. He took over the match in Liverpool's 4-0 win over Manchester United in April — a game in which Salah shone.
And it's Salah who benefits most from Thiago's involvement — matches in which Liverpool have total control. FSG's £20m tweak of a transfer strategy that typically focuses on players on the cusp of world class status has paid off, and they have doubled down this summer with the contract renewal.
Thiago has been trusted to continue his form as the conductor in Klopp's heavy-metal orchestra, a move (or rather lack of one) key in FSG being able to award Salah his new deal. But while there are no doubts over his quality, his availability must now be brought up to the same levels, even if that means Klopp being more selective of the games in which he deploys him. Liverpool have got it right by not completely abandoning experience in their quest for more youth, but only time will tell whether the Spaniard can justify the decision to go another year without midfield recruitment.
Liverpool have locked down key members of their spine to new contracts over the last year with Mohamed Salah the latest, so how long is every player locked in for?
The Egyptian offered a welcome surprise when his new long-term deal was confirmed, ending months of speculation regarding his future and ensuring fans have plenty of goals left to celebrate.
Salah became the latest key figure within Jurgen Klopp’s squad to put pen to paper, with further contract talks expected for other players with one year remaining on their existing deal.
New arrivals, meanwhile, have penned lengthy deals, which include Darwin Nunez, Luis Diaz, Fabio Carvalho and Calvin Ramsay, while Klopp also extended to 2026 back in April.
Here’s the rundown of when every Liverpool senior player’s contract will expire.Goalkeepers
Alisson – 2027
Caoimhin Kelleher – 2026
Adrian – 2023Defenders
Calvin Ramsay – 2027
Andy Robertson – 2026
Ibrahima Konate – 2026
Virgil van Dijk – 2025
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 2025
Kostas Tsimikas – 2025
Nat Phillips – 2025
Joe Gomez – 2024
Joel Matip – 2024Midfielders
Fabinho – 2026
Harvey Elliott – 2026
Jordan Henderson – 2025
Curtis Jones – 2025
Thiago – 2024
Naby Keita – 2023
James Milner – 2023
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 2023Forwards
Darwin Nunez – 2027
Luis Diaz – 2027
Fabio Carvalho – 2027
Mohamed Salah – 2025
Diogo Jota – 2025
Roberto Firmino – 2023
Some have suggested that Mohamed Salah’s new £350,000 a week contract could cause a divide among his Liverpool teammates, but Jurgen Klopp doesn’t envisage any problems.
Salah’s new deal will make him the highest-paid player in Liverpool’s history, a big commitment to a player who turned 30 earlier this month.
It had appeared that this could be Salah’s final season with the Reds, with the Egyptian entering the final season of his previous contract in 2022/23.
However, on Friday, the club shocked supporters with the announcement that Salah had finally put pen to paper on a new deal that will keep him at the club until 2025.
There have been questions as to whether such a big financial commitment to a player entering his 30s is such a wise move, but writing in The Athletic, Simon Hughes has shed some light on Liverpool’s decision.
?? The ???? is still to come, strap yourselves in! pic.twitter.com/aycY7ZrhFI
— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) July 1, 2022
It’s been suggested that Salah’s £350,000 a week wages could lead to problems when negotiating new contracts with other Liverpool players and their representatives, with the wage structure showing some flexibility.
But Hughes reports that Klopp is “confident” that the “intelligence and humility” in his squad means this won’t be an issue.
Hughes goes on to write that many of Salah’s teammates view him as the team’s “main man” and says there is a “recognition” that he deserves such a big contract, one that is highly incentivised by performance-based criteria.
It’s also reported that “changes are afoot” in regards to Liverpool’s formation, given the alterations Klopp made to the shape of his midfield and attack towards the end of last season.
The Liverpool boss could consider using Salah in different positions in the years to come, with the Egyptian potentially an option to fill the No. 10 role if a 4-2-3-1 formation is used more often.
After the news was announced on Friday, Klopp again reiterated his belief that Salah’s best years are still to come, with the player himself also confident that he can perform at the very top way into his 30s.
Having handed him the biggest player contract in their history, Liverpool are clearly in no doubt that their star attacker can continue to break records in the years to come.
Harvey Elliott has revealed his anticipation to link up with the new additions in Liverpool's squad this summer.
Jürgen Klopp's ranks for 2022-23 have been bolstered by the signings of Darwin Nunez, Calvin Ramsay and Fabio Carvalho.
Elliott is excited at the impact the trio can have on the trophy-chasing Reds and is looking forward to welcoming them to the club when pre-season begins.
"It's just more talent to the group really, with the boys coming in," the 19-year-old told Liverpoolfc.com. "They're going to help us as a team, as teammates and as people as well.
"So, it's nice to have new people come through the door and, like always, we're going to look after them and bring them in as a team and support them – especially Fabio, it's been a long time since I've last seen him and played with him.
"To have him in a red shirt, he'll showcase his talent very soon, that's for sure, and show Liverpool and the fans why we signed him.
"I'm just very happy that I'm going to be playing with him soon and I just can't wait to see how the boys do and get on."
Elliott and Carvalho will become teammates for the second time in their short careers, having played with each other in Fulham's academy set-up.
Portugal U21 international Carvalho heads to Anfield after a brilliant season with the Cottagers, helping them clinch the Championship title with 10 goals and eight assists.
"He brings everything, in all fairness," Elliott said. "He has a great attitude, he has the flair, the skill, the determination and he can score and assist as well.
"He's the perfect player, in my eyes, and to have him on board and to have him in the building and around us, he'll only make us better players as well, and it will only make him a better player.
"It's been a long time, as I said, and to hopefully share the pitch with him again and to have that link-up, it'll be great and I'm just looking forward to it.
"Hopefully he can show everyone why we signed him."
Elliott himself heads into the upcoming season with a new squad number and fresh motivation.
The No.19 made 11 appearances – six of which were starts – during 2021-22, as the campaign ended with a domestic cup double.
Looking ahead, he said: "I can't wait, especially after last season's disappointment towards the end.
"I just can't wait to get back and get going again with the boys and work that extra [bit] harder just to make sure we hopefully can top off another great season.
"There's a lot of hard work to do throughout the season but I'm just so excited to get back and to be able to put the shirt on again and to play for Liverpool.
"As everyone knows, it's the boyhood club of mine, so it's always a pleasure to put this shirt on and to go out and play. I'm just looking forward to doing it."
On his summer break, Elliott added: "It's been OK, not too bad. I've still kept myself going, because obviously you need to through the off-season.
"But, to be honest, I'm ready to come back and ready to play again. It's been a busy season to say the least and a lot of things have happened throughout the season.
"But I feel like there's a point to be proven this season for myself and I'm just looking forward to doing it and doing what I can to make sure I'm in the perfect position to come back into pre-season to be firing again."
For all the talk of the Liverpool evolution on the pitch, it is easy to forget about the one going on behind the scenes. It is hard to say with complete certainty whether Sadio Mané or Michael Edwards was the more significant departure of the summer. But just as Luis Díaz has already quelled worries about missing Mané with his early contributions, Julian Ward has made the perfect start as sporting director — capped most recently with the new deal for Mohamed Salah.
It could so easily have proved reckless to leave such a crucial footballing transition to a backroom team also in flux. Edwards rightly left with glowing tributes from everyone at the club, but he nonetheless stepped away with many key issues unresolved. Ward inherited a contract crisis, with Salah and Mané both into the final year of their deals. The age profile of the Liverpool side was not quite at crisis level, but certainly needed work too. Fundamentally, the squad was also bloated.
Had Ward failed to instantly live up to his venerated predecessor, Liverpool could have been in genuine trouble. Instead, within a few short weeks of being in sole charge, he has gone some way to resolving most of the main issues.
He began work on the age profile as early as January, taking the lead on the Díaz deal. At the same time, this eased the pressure on the situations surrounding Mané and Salah, ensuring a degree of backup was already at the club. The move was to prove a sign of things to come in more ways than one.
Darwin Núñez marked Ward’s first solo marquee transfer, and it had plenty of similarities. The striker is another young forward from the Portuguese league, where Liverpool’s new sporting director has a track record. Like Díaz, he was also attainable on modest wages, allowing plenty of room to offer contract extensions in future without shattering the wage bill.
Add to that the recruitment of Calvin Ramsay, plus academy prospects Ben Doak and (as yet unconfirmed) Trent Kone-Doherty, and Ward has instilled a young Liverpool core with room to grow in remarkably efficient fashion. The midfield still needs a little attention in this regard, but the brilliance of the business so far makes it easy to believe the whispers of plans to sign Jude Bellingham in 2023.
Outgoings have been managed with similar aplomb. It always seemed likely that one of Salah, Mané and Firmino would be moved on this summer — Ward was spared any dilemmas when one of them made clear that they wanted to move to Bayern Munich. Faced with initially derisory offers, it took some hard negotiating to reach a fair fee, but Liverpool look likely to end up breaking even. For a 30-year-old in the final year of his deal, that can’t be considered bad going.
The bloated squad is yet to be trimmed too much, but Ward has more than doubled Liverpool’s money on Takumi Minamino, continuing the Edwards trend of monetising fringe assets. In fact, in recent (pandemic-impacted) years, his predecessor’s powers in this area had begun to wane, so this is a welcome return to type. Similar deals for Neco Williams and perhaps Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would cap a near-perfect summer.
But the pièce de résistance became clear yesterday: the agreement of a new contract with Salah. Where there had been no breakthrough for over a year, Ward found a way.
He broke the previously sacred Liverpool wage structure in doing so, but still stuck to certain key principles. For instance, the headline £350,000 per week figure is believed to be heavily dependent on performance-related bonuses, something to which superstars at the height of their earning power do not always readily agree.
Equally, Ward will have been conscious of the fact that the knock-on effect is not likely to be vast. The obvious headache that giving Salah a big raise would have presented in the past was that Mané would naturally have wanted more money. With him gone, it is difficult to see many noses getting out of joint. The new young core at Liverpool will not be pushing for parity with the top earners any time soon, and most of the elder statesmen of the squad are likely to already be on their final contracts.
The on-and-off pitch evolutions have duly ended up dovetailing perfectly. Far from being reckless, the notion of conducting this kind of dual changeover ultimately led to the conditions in which Salah could be tied down to a new Liverpool deal. Even so, Ward himself deserves a huge amount of personal credit — the ambitious plan rested on his ability to hit the ground running, and he has certainly done that.
It is, isn’t it? Whenever there’s a problem with English football fans and ticketing arrangements, it’s nearly always Liverpool fans that seem to be involved. Read it anywhere, on social media, in the newspapers, on the fans’ forums. Watch it as grainy video footage taken on a mobile phone shows young lads climbing over turnstiles without paying or running away from chasing police and stewards. Liverpool supporters…
Of course, we all know that isn’t exactly true, but if you don’t live in the city of Liverpool, or especially if you are a football supporter who lives outside of England or Britain, then this is exactly the image that precedes the club.
The question is why, and how on earth does that image change?
I live in France, so I have a pretty close idea of how the police and the authorities work in a state that has few of the freedoms taken for granted in the United Kingdom. There is a joke amongst French people that the police in most countries are there for the safeguard of the citizens, whilst in France, they are there to take that safeguard away and then arrest you when you complain. The French complain... a lot!FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images
Two weeks previous to the Champions League Final that this article is referring to, I attended the French Cup Final at the Stade de France, so I had a very good preview and taste of what could be expected from the police force and the heavy-handed stewards. This game was played between Nice and Nantes, two medium-sized clubs with passionate supporters. There was no intense rivalry between the two, but a happy atmosphere as both clubs were gracing the big stage for the first time in around two decades.
It should have been an enjoyable evening. It wasn’t.
For those few Liverpool fans who didn’t make their way to the stadium for their final, then you were fortunate for so many reasons. The stadium isn’t actually in Paris as is widely believed, but in an area called Saint-Denis, which as Thierry Henry pointed out ‘…is not Paris. Trust me, it’s not Paris!’
The surrounding areas are some of the roughest and most unpleasant anywhere to be seen in the country and are inhabited by people who you may not want to linger around for too long. Liverpool and Real Madrid fans found this to their cost, but so did the French fans supporting both Nice and Nantes.GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP via Getty Images
For the French Final, the police presence was smaller than two weeks later, but it was still strong and forbidding. Roadblocks, ticket checks leading to long queues, rough handling as each fan was searched and stewards who delighted in turning fans away if they perceived the ticket to be slightly unreliable whether it was genuine or not.
It is NOT a fan-friendly experience. The after-match is also bad, particularly as at this point the police have largely disappeared, but French fans know the stadium and they know the risks. They were prepared.Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
Fast forward two weeks and suddenly the French city is greeted by around 80,000 Liverpool fans and approximately 30,000 Real Madrid fans, neither of whom have a particularly recent experience of the stadium and its unusual way of greeting people who pay for its upkeep. It shouldn’t have been a problem.
Football supporters travel, especially English ones, and by and large, they behave themselves and just enjoy the occasion. The Stade de France would be ready, even at such short notice, as it is one of the largest stadiums in the world, and they know how to organise a sporting event. It will be fine…
The problem was that not a single person in charge seemed to have any idea whatsoever as to how to organise such a huge amount of people trying to enter the stadium at the same time (and remember, Spanish fans also had their nightmare tales to tell!), and so the prospect of many fans arriving with ‘fake’ tickets was something they did not prepare for.
Now whether you agree that there were a substantial number of ‘fake’ tickets or not, the fact that both the Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin, and the Sports Minister, Amelie Oudea-Castera, made wild claims about numbers and virtually blamed the ‘English disease’ and in particular the ‘Liverpool supporters’ was outrageous.
It was later leaked that another high-ranking official made the usual ‘Liverpool always cause trouble’ claim, without any evidence whatsoever. This was initially backed by complete and total silence from French President Macron, who decided such things were beneath him.
We all know why Liverpool fans seem to have this reputation, even though it is totally unwarranted, but is this going to be the case every time the club plays a high-profile European game? Liverpool are successful, and they won’t be saying goodbye to European competition anytime soon, so what has to happen to stop this?Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
Unfortunately, I can’t see an immediate solution. The poor fans who were crushed, tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed and abused by the police will not forget easily. Neither will the ones who were robbed and attacked by rampaging youths outside the stadium after the game, whilst the police were busy climbing into their vans, putting away the riot shields and making their way home, without a single regard for any citizen (French or foreign) as it was far too late, and they could no longer be bothered.
The only solution, in my mind, is to take away the privilege of hosting a major Final from the likes of France, or indeed any other country that cannot find it in their heart to treat football fans like human beings. Sadly, I think that may mean that Wembley will be called upon more often, but is that a bad thing?
This article doesn’t provide any answers, but the questions are not being answered. Liverpool fans know how to fight for justice, and the only thing I can say in defence of the night in Paris thanks God they are not having to fight that strongly again.
After months and months of increasing dread, Mohamed Salah's gleaming smile heralded the perfect end to the working week on Friday afternoon.
Now Salah will stay at Anfield for at least three more seasons. In the short-to-medium term, he is definitely the future of Liverpool's right wing.
But beyond Salah's stay, Liverpool may already have a plan for his successor, and his new contract could have just given supporters a major hint about who his heir to the throne may be in the longer term.
In the last 18 months, FSG have recruited two exciting right-wingers in the club's academy. While 2023 would have come too soon for them, they could be ready to step up into Salah's shoes in three years' time.
Supporters have already seen a few glimpses of Kaide Gordon in the first team. He made a handful of appearances for Jürgen Klopp's side last season, scoring a memorable goal at Anfield against Shrewsbury in the FA Cup.
All in all, Gordon averaged 0.74 goal contributions per 90 for the club's academy sides last season. His explosive speed and direct playing style does at times possess shades of Salah, with the youngster always looking to break into the box. There is no doubt the 17-year-old is a quintessential Klopp player.
In three years' time, Gordon will be 20, and just a few months away from his 21st birthday, at which point he should be prepared to be playing regular football at senior level. With four appearances for the club last season already at just 16 and 17 years of age, Gordon should build on that in the coming seasons, and Liverpool will hope his development follows the trajectory they expect. The club paid an additional sum to Derby County last season to remove the sell-on fee included in the original transfer, demonstrating their confidence in the player.
But Gordon alone is not the only right-winger who Liverpool will expect to make the step up in the future. Another piece of transfer business is starting to make increasing sense. The club's exciting new signing from Celtic, Ben Doak, is also highly rated by the club's coaching staff. By the summer of 2025, he too will be at an age (19) where he could be on the brink of first-team football.
Doak is an explosive forward with the speed and the physicality to dominate at academy level. Last season he had already played two games for Celtic in the Scottish top flight at just 16 years of age, and this season it would not be a surprise to see the youngster catch the eye in the academy.
With two such exciting young wingers in the academy, FSG will hope the question of Salah's successor will be resolved internally, with transfer outlay limited to the relatively trifling fees paid to secure the two bright talents in the first place. It's a strategy the club's owners have often applied in the past few seasons, and the precedent is there — through the likes of Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones — for Doak and Gordon to do the same in years to come.