2018/19 was oh-so-nearly perfect for Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool. The Reds set the third-highest points total in the Premier League’s history (97) and lost just one game all season…sadly, that game was to Man City and the second and first highest points tallies are also City’s.
Alas, still the wait goes on for the elusive Premier League title. However, the glass is more than half-full. Liverpool still have the Champions League final (for the second year in a row) to look forward to and, after a year of heavy spending and adaptation under Klopp in 2018, they really do look like one of the continents best sides.
Will the Reds make it rain again this summer in the transfer market? All indications say…no, probably not. Small tweaks and fine-tuning are what’s expected instead, with most of the pieces of Klopp’s puzzle already in place.
While incomings may be few and far between, outgoings are a different matter with the latest gossip suggesting £100m will be raised from offloading the (rather pricey, if you ask me) driftwood.
So, without further ado, here’s a rundown of every first-team player and whether they deserve to make the cut for next season. Listen up, Jurg!
Alisson Becker – KEEP – A very obvious keep. He sure cost a lot, but gone are the days when you can pay sub £10m for a guaranteed quality keeper. Winning the Golden Glove and making several key saves domestically and in Europe, Alisson has not been a disappointment.
Simon Mignolet – SELL – Still has one year to run on his contract and is one of the better backup keepers around. However, he has been vocal in his desire for first-team football and if he really wants to go, the club might as well let him leave while they can still get a transfer fee.
Caoimhin Kelleher – KEEP – *Makes note: learn to pronounce Caoimhin Kelleher*
Loris Karius – LOAN – Currently on a two-year loan deal at Besiktas. Yet, semi-regular horror stories of missed payments and goalkeeping blunders in Turkey have suggested that the deal may be cut short. If that happens, Liverpool would likely seek another temporary option.
Kamil Grabara – LOAN – The 20-year-old Pole has been on loan at Aarhus in the Danish Superliga for the second half of this season. He is likely to be given more time to impress away from Anfield.
Adam Bogdan – RELEASE – It is quite insane to think that Adam Bogdan is still a Liverpool player in the year of our Lord 2019.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – KEEP – The local boy set a new record for assists by a defender in a Premier League season with 12. He is contracted to Liverpool until 2024.
Andy Robertson – KEEP – Like Alexander-Arnold, Robertson’s contract runs until 2024, which is a good thing as he has developed into one of the world’s best left backs this season.
Alberto Moreno – RELEASE – Out of contract this summer, Moreno’s time at Liverpool has been a bit odd, to say the least. He will likely return to Spain, while Liverpool will look for a backup to Robertson in the transfer market. Youngster Adam Lewis could also be promoted to the first team.
Nathaniel Clyne – LEAVE – The latest rumours suggest Bournemouth are unlikely to make the loan signing of Clyne a permanent one. However, several other Premier League clubs have been linked and it shouldn’t be difficult to shift a player of his experience.
Virgil van Dijk – KEEP – Well, duh.
Joe Gomez – KEEP – Lost his automatic starter spot with a bad injury halfway through the season. Gomez will compete with Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip to prove he is the best man to partner Van Dijk. Long term, you have to imagine he’ll win that competition.
Joel Matip – KEEP – A few months ago the answer might’ve been different but Matip has been near exceptional in the Premier League and European run-in and looked unfazed against the best around. His passing and surprise ability with the ball at his feet are huge plus points.
Dejan Lovren – KEEP – Possibly now the Reds’ fourth choice centre back. Whether Lovren will be happy with that status, having played in a World Cup final a year prior (and considering his own *ahem* lofty estimation of himself), is another matter.
The Croatian is not a bad defender at all, it’s just that Liverpool have some very, very good defenders right now, and by God, it’s refreshing to say that.
Nathaniel Phillips – SELL – At the age of 22, Phillips is unlikely to ever to get first-team minutes at Liverpool and now is probably the time to move him on. FA Youth Cup winner Rhys Williams could move up to the first team squad in 2019/20.
Fabinho – KEEP – The Brazilian grew into his role at Liverpool, after a briefly concerning few months of limited game time. He is now, more often than not, one of the three midfield starters in the big games for Klopp.
Georginio Wijnaldum – KEEP – The unsung hero of the season. No Liverpool midfielder has played more than the Dutchman in 2018/19, with Fabinho (the second most) having appeared in 700 minutes fewer.
Wijnaldum’s ball retention, work in transitions and all-around versatility are essential to the Reds’ game.
James Milner – KEEP – While some will tell you that Milner’s contract expires this summer, Liverpool ITK to end all ITKs James Pearce assured us earlier this season that the deal ‘definitely‘ runs until 2020.
As long as he is fit and willing, Milner should have a place at Anfield.
Jordan Henderson – KEEP – Henderson has excelled in the latter half of the season when allowed to play a more advanced role in midfield. He is a player who loves the big occasions and is as essential to the dressing room as he is on the pitch.
Naby Keita – KEEP – After all the fanfare, Keita endured the most difficult season of all Liverpool’s summer signings. Frustratingly, he seemed to be starting to hit his stride before a season-ending injury in the semi-final of the Champions League against Barcelona.
Hopefully, 2019/20 will see Keita deliver his best form yet.
Curtis Jones – KEEP – Now 18, the local boy has already played once in the FA Cup and will be aiming to earn a first Premier League appearance next season.
Marko Grujic – SELL – After a successful loan stint at Hertha BSC, Grujic looks destined for a permanent exit as Liverpool eye the chance to make a few quid on fringe stars.
Ovie Ejaria – SELL – At 21, and after loans at Rangers and Reading last season, it looks highly unlikely that the Under-20 World Cup winner will play a part at Liverpool next year.
Pedro Chirivella – SELL – Much like Ejaria, if Chirivella was going to develop into a first-team star, we really would’ve known by now.
Attacking Midfielders & Wingers
Adam Lallana – SELL – Still contracted for another year, Lallana has (sadly) faded into obscurity at Liverpool. He played just 500 minutes all season – and wasn’t even as injured as he normally is!
As recently as 2017 he was one of Liverpool’s most important players. Now, the wrong side of 30, he will surely be moved on this summer.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – KEEP – The former Arsenal star missed almost all of the 2018/19 season but should be back fit and raring to pick up where he left off next season. Let’s just hope the injury has no lasting effects on his game.
Xherdan Shaqiri – KEEP – More important in the first part of the season than the latter, Shaqiri is still no doubt a useful squad option and was a (relative) snip at £13m.
Rafael Camacho – LOAN – The 18-year-old got a few seconds in the Premier League as Liverpool beat Palace during the height of their defensive injury back in January. Unlikely to be needed as emergency cover again, he could well be loaned out, with several clubs interested.
Ben Woodburn – LOAN – The loan spell at Sheffield United did not go to plan for Woodburn. However, he is still only 19. A wealth of options in his position at Liverpool already means another attempt at a loan seems realistic for the one-time wonderboy. It could prove make or break for his Reds future.
Harry Wilson – KEEP – Now seemingly ahead of Woodburn in his development, 22-year-old Wilson has had a wonderful, Goal-of-the-Month-hogging season at Derby, which could yet end in promotion. He would be a useful backup for Liverpool’s occasionally overworked attackers.
Ryan Kent – SELL – A recent report claims Liverpool want as much as £12m for the 22-year-old who spent the 2018/19 season at Rangers. That seems high, but hey if Solanke went for £19m…
Sheyi Ojo – SELL – Has spent the season on loan at Ligue 1 Reims, but played fewer than 500 minutes in total all season as they finished in ninth. Ojo made as many as 11 first team appearances for the Reds in 2015/16 but hasn’t really progressed in the way many hoped.
Taiwo Awoniyi – SELL – Linked with a £10m (again, the market these days is quite mad) move to Schalke this summer, the 21-year-old has done reasonably across Europe in various loan spells without ever really looking like he might threaten the Liverpool first team.
Roberto Firmino – KEEP – It’s been another fine season for arguably the most selfless forward in world football. It’s hard to imagine a player that fits Klopp’s system better.
Sadio Mane – KEEP – 2018/19 saw Mane ascended to a new level, with his 22 Premier League goals earning him a share of the Golden Boot along with Mohamed Salah and Pierre Emerick-Aubamayeng. He has been tangentially linked with Real Madrid, but that seems dubious at best.
Mohamed Salah – KEEP – Salah’s ‘difficult’ second season saw him pick up a second Golden Boot and rack up 36 goal contributions (with the Champions League final still to play).
Daniel Sturridge – RELEASE – The end is nigh for Sturridge, who was once regarded as England’s best finisher. He’s clearly a wonderfully gifted footballer, but at 29 it’s easier to see him fading into mid/lower-table ignominy rather than finding re-discovering his best form now.
Divock Origi – KEEP – From outcast to hero, Origi’s season has been a heart-warming one and a testament to being in the right place at the right time (see: Everton and Barcelona).
His recent form negates the need for Liverpool to look for that most awkward of players in the summer window: a striker good enough to make an impact, but not so good as to demand a starting berth every week.
Rhian Brewster – KEEP – The most exciting player at the club who has yet to make to make a first-team appearance. He’ll be introduced gradually, while Klopp will attempt to temper expectations, but Liverpool fans are very keen to see Brewster in action.
Danny Ings – SELL – Ings is set to complete a near £20m move to Southampton this summer after a positive loan spell.