This is the eighth part of a weekly series titled “The Magnificent Seven”. Every week we’ll be taking a look at almost everything regarding Liverpool, ranked in a top seven. With the new campaign a fortnight away, excitement has begun to build around the world. With each club having its own unique reasons to either be hopeful or terrified of what is to come. With a stellar 16/17 campaign in the books, The Reds are one of several teams expecting to push on in this upcoming campaign. Thus in this edition we’ll be taking a look at the top seven reasons why Liverpool fans should be excited for the season ahead.
7 – Full Squad Available
I’m really praying that I don’t jinx anything by saying this. At the point of this article’s conception the squad has no first team injuries to be concerned with (with the exception of Danny Ings but he hardy plays anyway). It’s been some time since Liverpool has had the privilege to enter a new season with a full squad. Whether players missed the opening matches due to injury or recent international commitments, something has always been in the way. This summer however, with only Emre Can being involved in the Confederations Cup coupled with Mané and Henderson making full recoveries from injuries sustained last season, everyone looks in good shape. A bit of a selection dilemma will likely ensue but the gaffer will be the first to tell you that’s the best dilemma to have.
6 – Exciting Youngsters
Starting from the defence, all the way up to the ones leading the frontline, this squad is littered with young talent. Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Woodburn, and Ovie Ejaria showed glimpses last season of what they can bring to this team. Add in players like Dom Solanke and Joe Gomez who are now available and the future is looking bright. With the extra European games now on the schedule, don’t be surprised to see much more of these youngsters in the upcoming campaign.
5 – Still Money To Spend
At the time this article is released, Liverpool will have brought in three new faces in this summer’s transfer window: Dominic Solanke, Andrew Robertson, and the standout so far Mohamed Salah. In the months leading up to last season’s conclusion, the word circling around was that Jurgen Klopp would be given a bigger war chest than FSG have given to any manager thus far. Some even saying the figure could be close to £200m. So far only about £50m of that has been spent (even including in Solanke’s tribunal fee). If you believe the popular buzz then you’d have seen Liverpool’s 87 bids that have been made for Leipzig’s Naby Keita. The willingness to spend looks to be there, it’s just the ability to get any club-to-club negotiations over the line which seems to be the issue. Keita and Van Dijk look to be the club’s only current targets to reinforce the centre of defence and midfield at the moment so this could rumble on for a while. However, expect Liverpool to bring in the players to fill in those gaps before the window shuts; whether they’re Keita and Van Dijk or not.
4 – The Core Group Is Another Year Older
For many a year, Liverpool have struggled to head into new campaigns with a squad that is improved from the one prior. Often the reason comes down to a failure to hold onto the club’s best players. When a season starts with no major departures and a few quality additions, the season is almost always a good one. Look at the 2008/2009 campaign, 2013/2014 campaign, and the 2016/2017 campaign. All seasons in which no key players left the side and the core group was a year older, a year more experienced, and a year more gelled with each other. And all those season’s saw significant improvements from the seasons that preceded them. There’s been speculation lately linking Coutinho with a move to Barcelona but they have swiftly been rubbished by Klopp. The players seem completely behind the cause and ready to take last season’s exploits one step further.
3 – Terrifying Attack
For the majority of last season, Liverpool were the top scorers of the Premier League. The fluid front three of Coutinho, Firmino, and Mané linked together to devastating effect. With Lallana and Wijnaldum chipping in with plenty of goals and assists from midfield. Now include the addition of the aforementioned Mohamed Salah and this frontline is mouthwatering. If the end of the last campaign taught us anything it’s that Philippe Coutinho can elevate his game to world class levels when deployed in the centre of midfield. The prospect of him pulling the strings with Mané and Salah burning down the wings is something of fantasy. Watching it come to life next season is something even the neutrals are looking forward to see.
2 – Jurgen Klopp At The Helm
It sometimes slips my mind how great of a manager we have in charge. When the tenures of Brendan Rodgers and Roy Hodgson still live so fresh in the memory of fans, it almost feels natural to feel like the club is run by someone out of his league. It still hasn’t dawned on me that our current manager – while certainly not bigger than the club – has a much higher pedigree than any player or staff member associated with the first team. His name carries weight around Europe, as evidenced this summer by several players publicly declaring their desire to play for Liverpool ahead of a host of other massive clubs. And on the field as well it’s nigh on impossible to ignore the strides that have been made. Critics will point out the fact that Klopp’s record is eerily similar to that of Rodgers at this stage of their respective tenures. However, even ignoring the fact that the latter almost won the league in his second season (which certainly makes his record at this stage seem impressive), one only has to watch the way Klopp’s team plays to see the difference. The confidence, the energy, the understanding of what the game plan is once they step on the pitch. This newfound belief is perfectly evidenced by the team’s fantastic record against the league’s other big boys. Since the German has taken over, only one team out of last season’s top seven got the better of him (Manchester United in January 2016). The steady progress with Klopp at the helm has been extremely promising and fans have high hopes for the German’s second full season in charge.
1 – The Return Of Champions League Football
It feels like it’s been so long…probably because it has. Liverpool haven’t seen the Champions League since 2014, and even that was a sad attempt at competing. Brendan Rodgers’ men were knocked out in the group stage after amassing one win and five points. Before that campaign it had been five years since Anfield saw Champions League nights, and even that campaign saw The Reds eliminated in the group stage. It’s about time that England’s most successful European club gave the continent’s elite competition a real run for its money. Anfield is oh so ready to roar their team through some magical European nights again. The Europa League in 2016 gave us a teaser but this is the real box office showpiece. There’s the small matter of a playoff to deal with before The Reds officially enter the competition’s group stage but losing that surely is not even an option. Champions League is right around the corner, and we have every single reason to be excited for it.