Liverpool's current XI is largely unchanged from the side which lost in the 2018 Champions League final, while many of those players have played relentlessly since that game. Jamie Carragher explained on Monday Night Football why they must add new players in the summer transfer window.
Wednesday 10 February 2021 15:51, UK
Liverpool need to strengthen in three key areas this summer in order to be Premier League challengers again, according to Jamie Carragher - so who could Jurgen Klopp sign to get the champions firing again?
Liverpool's 4-1 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday saw them slip 10 points behind the league leaders - which could become 13 points if Pep Guardiola's side win their game in hand - as the Reds' hopes of retaining their title all but evaporated at Anfield.
To respond and return to the heights they reached in the previous three seasons, Klopp must freshen up his squad this summer, with Carragher identifying three key positions the German should look at.
"People say, 'Well, Jurgen doesn't rotate'," said the former Liverpool captain on Monday Night Football. "Liverpool haven't got the quality of squad and back up of other clubs. Liverpool wouldn't have won the trophies they have done over the last two or three years if he'd rotated.
"I still think they will be back - but they need three players. They need a centre-back - maybe he has joined now in Ozan Kabak - they need someone to replace Wijnaldum, and they need someone in the front three.
"And I'm not talking about players on the bench. I'm talking about players to come into the team like Matip, Wijnaldum, and Mane did, like Salah, Van Dijk, and Alisson. That's what Liverpool need."
We look at possible players Klopp and Sporting Director Michael Edwards may be targeting this summer:
With Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all sidelined until the end of the season and Liverpool having still not signed a permanent replacement for Dejan Lovren, Carragher thinks Klopp has to bring in a new central defender this summer
Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig)
Contract expires: 2023
Upamecano is currently one of Europe's most in-demand central defenders after an impressive season last time out with Leipzig, who he helped progress to the Champions League semi-finals.
The France international was rewarded for those displays with a contract extension last July, although the new deal contains a reported £40m buyout clause which only comes into effect next summer.
However, Carragher has previously urged his former club to sign the player, who is reportedly Liverpool's first-choice central-defensive target for next season.
"There is a young man everyone was talking about at Leipzig, Dayot Upamecano, there is talk of him. Whether he has the profile of Van Dijk, I think he is only 6ft 1in or 6ft 2in, so he is maybe not that aerial, but if he is the one they wanted, then bring it forward," the Sky Sports pundit told MNF back in October.
Ibrahima Konate (RB Leipzig)
Contract expires: 2023
Liverpool are also reportedly monitoring Upamecano's partner in Leipzig's three-man back line, although they are not the only Premier League club believed to be interested in signing Konate this summer.
The France U21 international, who joined the Bundesliga side on a free from Sochaux in 2017, maybe a better - and cheaper - option than his compatriot, who is thought to be heading to Bayern Munich next season.
And Klopp will be able to better assess the centre-back, who has not played since December 16 due to an ankle injury, when his team take on Leipzig in their upcoming Champions League last-16 tie.
With Georginio Wijnaldum still to sign a new contract at Anfield - the Dutchman's current deal expires this summer - Liverpool look like they will need to find a replacement for the player next season
Pedro Goncalves (Sporting Lisbon)
Contract expires: 2025
Goncalves, who can operate on the wing, or as a central midfielder - was actually brought in to replace Bruno Fernandes when the forward left Sporting to join Man Utd in January 2020, scoring 14 times in just 15 league games so far this campaign.
Liverpool reportedly made an enquiry for the versatile Portugal U21 international in the recent January transfer window and are understood to be deciding whether to activate the £53m release clause in the 22-year-old's contract this summer.
Renato Sanches (Lille)
Contract expires: 2023
There may be a few raised eyebrows at reports suggesting Liverpool are looking at the Lille midfielder to replace Wijnaldum, but the player - who was part of Portugal's Euro 2016-winning squad - has revived his previously faltering career since joining the Ligue 1 club from Bayern Munich in August 2019.
The 23-year-old is probably best remembered in this country for an ill-fated season-long loan spell with Swansea City in 2017-18 which saw him spend more time on the treatment table than the field of play as the Swans were relegated to the Championship.
However, Sanches's impressive form in his first two seasons at Lille has not only helped the club to surprisingly top the Ligue 1 standings, but it has also put him on the radar of Liverpool's scouts.
Although whether the Reds would be prepared to spend £64m on Sanches - the amount Lille president Gerard Lopez claimed he turned down for him in January - is debatable.
"Roberto Firmino's the one I'm worried about, whether it be a lack of form or maybe just that slow decline as you get a little bit older, which is natural for any attacker when they get to their late 20s because they don't play as long as players in other areas of the pitch… and sooner or later that front three will have to be broken up," Carragher said recently on MNF
Kylian Mbappe (PSG)
Contract expires: 2022
Doubts have emerged of late about Mbappe's future in the French capital as the PSG superstar weighs up whether to extend his stay at the Parc des Princes beyond his current contract, which runs out in 2022.
Real Madrid were understood to be leading the race for the France international striker, although AS claim that Liverpool are now the favourites to sign the player if he opts not to sign a new deal with his boyhood club.
And speaking in January, Mbappe said: "I want to think about what I want to do in the next few years, where I want to be, this is how my thinking goes. But it is true that soon we will have to make a decision.
"I do not want to sign a contract (with PSG) and say a year later that I want to leave. If I sign it, it is to stay, and that deserves time for reflection."
Raphinha (Leeds United)
Contract expires: 2024
The forward only joined Leeds from Rennes in October, but he is already attracting interest from Liverpool, with France Football reporting the Brazilian tops the champions' shortlist of attacking players this summer.
And one person who has been particularly impressed by the 24-year-old's impact since arriving at Elland Road - he has recorded four goals and four assists in 17 league games - is Carragher.
"Some of his touches and his play when he comes inside, we've highlighted his movement as well," the former Liverpool defender told MNF after Leeds' 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.
"I was really impressed with him when I watched him at Leicester last weekend as well. You see that shot there (before Bamford's goal against Palace), that's so typical of a wide man, that penetrating run that we talk about with Salah, Mane and Sterling, all the great wide players. They make that run and he does. He has great quality on the ball.
"He assisted Bamford certainly in that Leicester game when he fired that pass in and you look at his numbers there, he looks like a real player, certainly of late.
"I think we mentioned before the game that he has been involved in seven goals in the last eight games, so he's always a huge threat."