August 11, 2018, marks the beginning of the 2018/19 Premier League season in England and I cannot remember being this excited about a campaign in a long time. Why? Jurgen Klopp. He arrived at Liverpool almost three years ago and implemented wholesale changes. Brendan Rodgers weak leadership quickly faded as Klopp changed tactics, but most importantly, he slowly changed personnel. I find myself wondering how the recent (top quality) additions to the club will impact the coming season.
Naby Kieta (CM/CAM) wasn’t a surprise because he signed for Liverpool last summer but was allowed to finish his contract at RB Leipzig before his 2018 transfer. A box-to-box midfield talent, Keita looks like the real deal and in pre-season has displayed talent, vision, finesse, and speed. His dogmatic approach to ownership of the midfield will only enhance Klopp’s vision of complete control on the pitch. In tandum with other players, Liverpool’s midfield has taken a big step forward and appears to improve one of the weakest aspects of Liverpool.
Next to arrive was Fabinho (CDM). On the heels of the Champion’s League final loss, Fabinho was signed from Monaco seemingly out of no where — almost as a salve to our wounds. A dyed-in-the-wool midfield enforcer, Fabinho replaces the departing Emre Can (one of my favorite players) with rock solid defensive talent. Though he’s likely going to take a moment to become settled in the English game, Fabinho will be the anchor behind Henderson and Keita which Liverpool’s midfield sorely needed.
Stoke were relegated. Stoke’s best player and someone I really wanted to bring into the fold, has arrive. Xeridan Shaqiri (LW/RW) is an offensive talent. Short, stocky, with tricks and speed, Shaqiri fits the prototypical mold of the speedy attacker Klopp has imprinted upon the Liverpool squad. Trained in the prestigious Bayern Munich academy, Shaqiri has shown flashes of brilliance and class while plying his trade at Stoke but now he’s handed a real test seeing if he can rise to the next level at Liverpool. Personally, I believe he’s a massive talent and will flourish at Anfield.
The final piece of the puzzle centers around something the supporters have been vocal about for some time — the goal keeper. Mignolet was solid but seemed vague in the air. Karius had potential but absolutely fell apart in the Champion’s League final and now appears to be suffering a crisis in confidence. Enter Alisson (GK), the Brazilian national team goalkeeper and now Liverpool’s number one. With cat-like reflexes and presence which drips gravitas, Alisson appears to be the final piece of the puzzle for Liverpool. He instills confidence and creates a foundation of safety so attacking players can focus on their task — going forward and doing damage. In an inspired signing, Alisson is easily the most exciting element of this summer’s transfer window — though Keita may rival the Brazilian in impact.
Truth be told, I don’t expect much else and if the window closes just like this, I’m quite happy. The midfield appears solved. The defense appears solid, and we already know about the attacking talent. Liverpool Football Club are now facing ridicule and harassment, not for being weak, but for having the potential to be stunning. For me, that’s the ultimate compliment — it’s kinda like being accused of cheating when you’re not. The impending season is teasing me with potential. Once this club comes together, I expect to hear continued ridicule from whining opposing supporters.
Screw Man United. Screw ’em.