Article by Jack Gill @jacklfcgill
After last season’s successes, including the Champions League final and our first back-to-back top four finish since 2007-2009, it is important, this season, that we further improve and win some silverware for the first time since 2012.
In order to do that we had to have a good summer. Depth was a problem last season so that needed to be addressed. There was also the hope of signing a new goalkeeper, something that was needed even more after the Champions League final.
We knew throughout last season that Guinea international Naby Keita would be joining us this summer. All we needed to do was wait for the former Leipzig midfielder for a season, however hard that was.
We tried to bring the deal forward in January but Leipzig were stubborn and refused to let the Guinean go. With Leipzig finishing sixth in the Bundesliga in 2017/18, the fee for Naby ended up being £52 million: a fee that is completely worth a player like Naby Keita, who will provide quality week in week out.
The Guinean has taken the number 8 shirt, last worn at Liverpool famously by Steven Gerrard, giving Naby Keita big boots to fill. Many around Liverpool Football Club are extremely confident that Keita will live up to the hype in an LFC shirt.
Liverpool’s next signing of Summer 2018 was a Brazilian and it came completely out of the blue. It was no secret that Liverpool were after a ‘number 6’ this window. With the departure of Emre Can looking extremely likely as his contact came to an end, Liverpool were linked to players like Jorginho, Ndidi, Doucoure and Ruben Neves. Instead though, it was Monaco’s Brazilian right-back turned number six, Fabinho, that the Reds ended up landing.
The Brazilian was being linked to Man United at the time. Paper talk suggested he was close to joining the Red Devils, but on the morning of 28th May news started to break that Fabinho was in Liverpool completing his medical and later in the day, LFC confirmed the signing of Fabinho.
Our next signing was an absolute bargain and, like Andy Robertson last season, came from a relegated club. Xheridan Shaqiri was undoubtedly Stoke City’s best player last season during their disappointing campaign which saw the Midlands club relegated He signed for £13 million. At first it seemed that Shaqiri was likely to be a back-up. Liverpool were heavily linked with Frenchman Nabil Fekir and reliable journalists suggested we’d sign both Shaqiri and Fekir, leading many to assume Shaqiri would be signed as a rotation player.
As the window has progressed, Fekir became less likely and Shaqiri impressed during preseason. His overhead kick against Manchester United on his debut alone was worth every penny of his £13 million fee. It is now clear that Shaqiri could turn out to be an absolute bargain for the Reds this season and has proved his diversity, playing well in numerous positions during preseason.
Our fourth and final signing of the window was arguably the most important. Since January, we had often been linked with Roma goalkeeper Alison Becker but rumours were often put to bed because of the form of Loris Karius and Klopp came out and backed the German continuously during the latter stages of last season. After his dismal performance in the Champions League final, Liverpool were linked to every goalkeeper under the sun: from Jack Butland and Iker Casillas to Nick Pope and Jan Oblak.
However, there was one name that seemed more than a newspaper link as we constantly seemed to get linked with Alisson. There was one problem though, Chelsea were also heavily linked and with Courtois unsettled and wanting to join Real Madrid, it was likely that the London club would be prepared to pay more than us for the Brazilian’s services.
Just like Oxlade-Chamberlain did last summer Alisson turned down a move to Chelsea and the capital to come to Merseyside and play at Anfield, much to the delight of LFC fans. We finally have a world-class goalkeeper again, something we have missed since Pepe Reina.
There was one disappointment during this Summer’s transfer window: World Cup winner Nail Fekir. Fekir had done his medical and even had interviews as an LFC player before the deal broke down. Liverpool and Lyon had agreed a £50 million fee but during Fekir’s medical, it was noticed that the Frenchman had a knee problem. Liverpool sought a second opinion on the matter before attempting to renegotiate the deal with Lyon. The Lyon chairman, Jean-Michel Aulas, proved rather stubborn and the deal broke down.
Despite Liverpool supporters being keen on the signing of Fakir, often replying to John Henry’s wife, Linda Pizzuti tweets, simply saying: ’Sign Fekir.’
Despite the disappointment of not signing Fakir, I believe this has been a good window for Liverpool Football Club. Shaqiri will prove to be a bargain at £13 million and the signings of Naby Keita, Alisson Becker and Fabinho are truly world class. Though it has been a considerably good window, I fear there are some important issues we haven’t addressed: Four of our five first team centre-backs are quite injury prone and we are a Van Dijk injury away from absolute carnage. With Oxlade-Chamberlain injured and likely to miss the majority of the season, the signing of Shaqiri only really replaces him and we still haven’t replaced Coutinho, who was pivotal for us during his time at LFC.
I know what you’re thinking, and you’re completely right. It would have cost us ridiculous amounts of money to sort all that out this window. In my opinion, the most important business this summer was tying Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino down on long term contracts, something we are currently in the process of getting Sadio Mane to do also. In the past, we have been somewhat a selling club, selling Luis Suarez and Phillipe Coutinho to Barcelona when they had a world-class signing, and who could forget when Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano and Fernando Torres all left during the latter stages of Rafa’s reign.
Tying our ‘fab three down to long term deals are just as important as three new signings and have made this transfer window even better. Now, we look forward to the start of the new season starting against West Ham at Anfield on Sunday…
Article by Jack Gill @jacklfcgill