Liverpool '2.0' is now reaching 'Spiderman' phase with $44m Jürgen Klopp piece already in place


Liverpool probably planned for things to proceed at a slower pace, but as it turned out, it almost completely rebuilt its midfield in the space of a single summer. Out went the old guard, with James Milner leaving at the end of his contract as expected and Fabinho and Jordan Henderson making shock exits to Saudi Arabia after Liverpool received offers that were too good to turn down.

In tandem, the Reds cleared the deadwood, bidding farewell to Naby Keïta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the expiry of their deals, as well as injury-hit loan signing Arthur Melo. To replace them, Liverpool splashed out a combined $177m (£145m/€168m) on four players — Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Wataru Endō and Ryan Gravenberch.

Szoboszlai has been the standout revelation so far, while Mac Allister and Gravenberch will prove their worth in time. The former has had to adjust to playing out of position as a number six, while Jürgen Klopp has carefully managed the integration of the latter.

You could argue that the rebuild isn't entirely finished just yet, for Liverpool may still need a long-term solution at the base of midfield given that Endō looks more like a stop-gap. Thiago will likely be the last of the veterans to leave when his contract winds down to its conclusion in the summer, intensifying the need for further investment in that area.

For the most part, though, Liverpool appears set for the future. Even when you include Thiago and Endō in the calculation, the average age of its eight midfielders stands at just 23.6.

We may not have realized it at the time, but this was actually the second phase in the construction of what Klopp has repeatedly called 'Liverpool 2.0'. The Reds had already rebuilt their attack, just more slowly and quietly.

It began when Luis Díaz arrived from Porto in January 2022, continued with the signing of Darwin Núñez the following the summer as Sadio Mané left for Bayern Munich, and concluded with the capture of Cody Gakpo last winter in preparation for the exit of Roberto Firmino. Liverpool recognized that the era of the iconic front three was ending, but gradually constructed a deeper attacking roster that can be just as explosive.

Again, the core can remain in place for years to come, for Mohamed Salah is the only member of the quintet north of 26. Even then, the Egyptian is certainly showing no signs of stopping.


Now, then, Liverpool is ready to move onto Phase Three of the project, much like the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2016 when it first introduced Tom Holland's Spiderman and Chadwick Boseman's Black Panther. This time around, the focus is the defense.

Virgil van Dijk is still unquestionably Liverpool's leader at the back (and indeed, its leader more generally after taking the armband from Henderson), but he's now 32 years old and, intriguingly, is out of contract in just over 18 months. Joël Matip, meanwhile, has started the last six Premier League games, but you still get the sense that free agency looms for the Cameroonian in the summer.

Then there's Joe Gomez. It can't be ruled out that he may push to leave at some point, with a first-choice berth at Anfield having proved mostly elusive in a spell entering its ninth year, although he will feel he can finally claim that status soon. Time will tell.

The only center-back with a definitive role in the Reds' future is Ibrahima Konaté, signed for $44m (£36m/€40m) in 2021 and poised to be the main man in the backline once Van Dijk moves on having become world-class in his own right. In short, Liverpool could feasibly lose three of its four center-backs in the next couple of years, and all of them would need replacing. It remains to be seen whether the impressive 20-year-old Jarell Quansah offers an internal solution, but either way, you would expect the club's forward planning to ramp up next year with the recruitment of a young, high-potential Matip replacement.

Either side of the center-halves, it's a safe bet that Trent Alexander-Arnold, destined for the captaincy, spends all of his prime years at Anfield, but there are more question marks around his position. He could potentially move into midfield full-time at some point, which would force the club to buy another right-back. On the left, Liverpool has just handed an extension to Kostas Tsimikas, but it will need a refresh before too long, because both he and and Andy Robertson (27 and 29 respectively) are nearing the end of their likely primes.

So far, Liverpool's rebuild has been a success, hence its strong start to the new season. The Reds entered the international break in fourth place, just three points off the top, but if they want to be consistently competing for titles, they still have an important task left to accomplish. They need their Spiderman.

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