It was three years ago today that Liverpool signed Alisson to complete what had been a tremendous few months in the transfer market for Jurgen Klopp.
The arrival of Alisson in July 2018 followed the signings of Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri a few days earlier, with Virgil van Dijk also joining in January that year in what was truly a golden era for the club as they brilliantly reinvested the money from Philippe Coutinho’s sale and built themselves a squad that would go on and win the Champions League and Premier League in the subsequent two seasons.
It’s not often we see genuinely game-changing signings like this coming in and making such a big impact straight away; Robin van Persie’s arrival at Manchester United in the summer of 2012 undoubtedly inspired them to the title that season, while Chelsea immediately looked the favourites to win the league in 2014/15 when they brought in Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas, but these were the finishing touches put on teams that were already really strong in other departments.
The signings of Van Dijk, Fabinho and Alisson, however, turned Liverpool from top four outsiders into perhaps the best team in Europe almost overnight. This period of astonishing success in the transfer window was very quickly followed by immense displays on the pitch that brought major trophies back to Anfield again, including that elusive league title after a thirty-year wait.
Since then, however, Liverpool have failed to come close to that kind of game-changing work in the transfer market. In the summer of 2019, barely anyone of note came in, as it wasn’t really needed, with the work already being done the year before. Still, we’re yet to see the benefits of signing promising youngsters Harvey Elliott and Sepp van den Berg, while Adrian has looked a pretty poor signing as backup goalkeeper. Takumi Minamino arrived to much fanfare in January 2020, but has totally flopped, having barely played for LFC and then struggling to make any kind of impact on loan at Southampton.
The summer of 2020 was a bit busier than the previous year, but Kostas Tsimikas was never likely to be more than a backup, while the glamour signing of Thiago Alcantara is yet to bare any fruit, with the Spain international undoubtedly a top player but perhaps a strange choice to come in to Klopp’s midfield, with his playing style never really looking like making him the right fit. With Georginio Wijnaldum now gone, it’s quite telling that another midfielder is surely a priority in this transfer window, as turning to Thiago to take his place just doesn’t seem a realistic option.
Diogo Jota has, in fairness, looked a terrific buy from Wolves, even if injuries have held him back. Liverpool fans will also hope that Ibrahima Konate’s arrival this summer can be the shot in the arm their defence needs, but he’s still young and inexperienced, with some concerns over his injury record as well.
Where are the new Alissons and Van Dijks for Liverpool? With the team slipping to third and failing to win any silverware last season, the need for another transfer window masterclass from Klopp has never been greater; Wijnaldum needs replacing, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane could probably also do with replacing, and there might even be a case for another centre-back alongside Konate due to the poor fitness records of both Joel Matip and Joe Gomez.
Chelsea showed they mean business with plenty of big-name signings last summer, and it delivered the Champions League. Their league form was inconsistent, but more signings could be on the way this summer and they’ll surely be a different prospect in a full season under Thomas Tuchel. Manchester United and Arsenal are also showing their intent, and you can’t entirely rule out either of those teams being more serious rivals to Liverpool if they get their targets in.
Liverpool have stood still for too long now, basking in the glory of that string of superb signings in 2018. Part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s greatness was that he continued to rebuild Man Utd again and again. If Klopp truly wants to cement his place among the all-time greats, now is the time to show that he can do the same.