By Sam Hannah – @sam_hannah98
With Bobby Firmino cementing the number 9 position in the past season, along with young starlet Rhian Brewster recently signing a new long-term contract with the club, it would appear that Liverpool don’t appear to have a striker issue. With 129 goals scored in all competitions in the 2017/18 season, mainly thanks to our ‘Fab 3’, many fans would argue that Klopp has solved our problems in front of goal. However, I believe there is an underlying issue that needs to be resolved in this summer transfer market that has perhaps gone under the radar due to focus being on the Goalkeeping issues.
Collectively, Danny Ings, Daniel Sturridge and Dom Solanke scored just 4 goals between them in all competitions in 2017/18. Meanwhile, Divock Origi managed just 6 goals in 31 games on loan at Wolfsburg. Now picture this, Roberto Firmino is struck with a long-term injury and is out for the majority of the season, who would you trust to lead our line? Firmino has made the ‘False 9’ role his own, with him, Salah and Mane appearing to have built a great relationship, and in my opinion no other striker does what he does.
If you look at Liverpool’s rivals, they have appeared to have resolved this issue. City have Jesus and Aguero, Arsenal have Lacazette and Aubameyang, United have Lukaku and Rashford, Chelsea have Giroud and Morata. These are all players that you know you can bring on towards the end of games and can grab you a goal when you most need it. Unfortunately, at this moment of time I don’t believe Liverpool have that player who we can bring on to help win us a game. Although we have some great young talent coming through with the likes of Solanke, Brewster and Woodburn, we need at least one forward that can come on and change the game for us.
What should happen with Liverpool’s current strikers?
- Dominic Solanke
Solanke ended his debut season with the reds with a great strike against Brighton, an indication of his talent that red’s fans were hoping for when he signed from Chelsea nearly a year ago. However, it was definitely an adaption season for our number 29, with only 5 starting appearances under his belt. The young Englishman at times showed a lack of understanding with the other Liverpool forwards and midfielders, however he has definitely progressed under Klopp and will hopefully continue his development at Liverpool. The only problem regarding Solanke is getting minutes, with Firmino, Salah and Mane keeping all forwards out of the starting line-up. Although he has been ever present in the under 23 team, he needs to continue to gain Premier league experience, otherwise it is possible he could become frustrated by a lack of minutes under Klopp. The likes of Rashford have shown that young talents need to consistently play in the Premier league and they will then improve, and I believe this is exactly what Solanke needs to really progress his career.
My Verdict – Send out on loan where he can get a full season in, but I believe Klopp will keep him at Liverpool to continue his development.
- Danny Ings
I have personally always had a little soft spot for our number 28, even before he was a Liverpool player. A player who has been struck with a series of unfortunate injuries, but his commitment to this club has never been in doubt. He gives 110% every time he steps on the pitch in a Liverpool shirt, and the delight on his face when he scored against West Brom brought a smile to every single red’s fan, as I personally couldn’t think of a player that deserved it more.
Nevertheless, the lack of goals to games is becoming increasingly obvious, with that West Brom goal being his only of the season. Similar to Solanke, this has been an adaption season for Ings, as he continued his recovery from injury. His first start under Klopp came in the Merseyside derby in April and although he didn’t score, he continued to chase every ball down and is the type of player that Klopp loves.
In my opinion, Ings deserves the 2018/19 season to prove to Klopp that he can keep injury free and be a crucial part of Klopp’s squad. He needs to take advantage of having a summer off and needs to hit the ground running in the pre-season tour but most importantly, start scoring consistently. If he does that, I think Klopp will keep him. However, if there is another major injury or lack of goals. I believe he will go the way of Sturridge and unfortunately leave the club.
My verdict – Give him the next six months to save his Liverpool career.
- Divock Origi
Our Belgian youngster decided to take a year away from Merseyside in order to help increase his world cup chances and moved to Wolfsburg last summer. He started off well at his new temporary home, scoring 4 goals in his first 9 games. However, a change in management at Wolfsburg led to Origi struggling in the managers new system, and only scored twice more in the 17/18 season. The season overall for Wolfsburg was very poor by their standards, with them just about surviving relegation thanks to a play off.
More recently Origi has hinted that Liverpool may be the best place for his improvement, and he agreed that there is much that needs to be improved in his game. However, I believe due to the other attacking options we have available, I think Klopp will give him little time to prove himself. A top pre-season may raise Klopp’s estimations of the Belgian, but if he stays he has to start scoring goals regularly and state his case to remain in this team. He is still a young player at 23, so it will be down to the boss whether he believes Origi deserves a place within this team.
My verdict – Depends on how good his pre-season is, but I believe he will end up moving on, whether that be on another loan or permanently.
- Daniel Sturridge
If you had told me a few seasons ago that we would be forced to sell Daniel Sturridge I wouldn’t have believed you. Unfortunately, through a combination of further injury problems and the lack of goals, our number 15 will likely be sold this summer. He became a fan favourite after his 13/14 campaign, but he never really adapted to Klopp’s style of play, and the fact he got injured again whilst on loan at West Brom really sealed his fate. As sad it is to me, I believe it is time for Sturridge to depart, but many including myself will never forget the part he played in the 13/14 season.
My verdict – Sold permanently.
How can Klopp resolve the striker problem?
I personally believe Klopp needs to sign one out and out striker who is experienced and can come on to frighten defenders. It is clear Klopp favours young talent, so that is how I have tried to approach these options.
Realistic – Moussa Dembele
This young Belgian starlet would almost be a direct replacement for the likely departing Divock Origi. At the age of just 21, he has scored 26 goals in 54 games for Celtic and has previous experience in English football with Fulham. He is a highly rated star that is up and coming and has a good eye for goal. He would likely also not cost too much, coming from the SPL, and is also likely to leave Celtic this summer to progress with his career.
The only potential downside is that he is a very similar player to Dom Solanke, but with just more experience. The signing of Dembele could halt the progress of Solanke, so Klopp would have to make a decision around his future.
Dream – Timo Werner
The new German number 9? Only 22? Do I need to say anymore! Werner has scored 34 goals in his last 2 seasons for RB Leipzig and he has been linked with Liverpool for a while, with Klopp rumoured to be a fan of the youngster. He also recently commented on his team mate Naby Keita’s move to Merseyside, which excited fans about a potential move.
The likely problem with this move however would be our relationship with Leipzig. We are already taking one of their best players this summer, after protracted negotiations last year, and it is unlikely they would let us acquire Werner as well. If he has a successful World Cup there will likely be a hefty price tag attached to his name. We can keep dreaming!
Intriguing? – Christian Pulisic
The American superstar has been linked with a move to Anfield since he joined Dortmund when he was only 16. Now at 19, Pulisic could potentially be looking to continue his development at another club. Having scored 10 goals for Dortmund is impressive at his age and Klopp will see him as a player who he can improve further after he was at the club when Pulisic was brought in. FSG would also likely be more than willing to pay big money for Pulisic, to increase the US attraction of LFC.
However, he may believe that continuing his development at Dortmund may be best for at least one more season which is understandable. His lack of experience may also mean that Klopp may look at other options for his go to man for coming on to score goals. As exciting as this potential transfer is, it may be just a little too soon for the American to join LFC.
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