Liverpool’s shocking 5-2 defeat at home defeat to Real Madrid can be read as a death knell for this era of Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Klopp has led Liverpool to every trophy going and did remarkably well to build a team capable of going toe-to-toe with Manchester City, but it appears that the German coach will need to shake things up if he’s to enjoy more success at Anfield.
If the writing wasn’t already on the wall with Liverpool sitting eighth in the Premier League, the manner of their capitulation at home to Madrid is the clearest signal yet that the team is in need of a rebuild.
It’s something that Sir Alex Ferguson did countless times over the course of his 26 years at Manchester United. It’s also something that Liverpool’s greatest-ever manager Bill Shankly did back in 1970.
“The breaking-up process began there,” Shankly recalled about an FA Cup defeat to Watford.
“After Watford I knew I had to do my job and change the team. I had a duty to perform to myself, my family, Liverpool Football Club and the supporters.”
Perhaps Klopp will have a similar thought process. Five long-serving stalwarts are out of contract in the summer, while there are questions to be asked of whether it’s time to move on from players like Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago and Joe Gomez.
It looks to be a big summer of change at Liverpool. Here are five players that Klopp can build a new-look team around to bring the club into a new era:
Liverpool fans already rate the 18-year-old highly and rightly so. Having recently become Liverpool’s youngest-ever Champions League starter, he will surely have a role to play in their rebuild.
It’s no surprise that Liverpool’s dip in form has coincided with Diaz being injured. Signed as the heir to Sadio Mane’s throne, Diaz has all the attributes to have a long and successful career at Anfield.
The Colombian winger attempted 4.62 take-ons per 90 last season, which was more than any other Liverpool player. Klopp’s side have often lacked a spark this season, but the unrelenting pace of Diaz will surely give them a boost when he’s fully fit.
“I think the same thing is happening to me as happened to Suarez,” Nunez told Sky Sports. “In his second year, he tore it up. Something similar happened to me already at Benfica. The first year went very badly for me and in the second, I exploded.”
Despite all of his critics, Nunez has showcased plenty of the elements which make a top striker. It’s now up to him to put all of those pieces together because he certainly has the ability to make it at Anfield.
“Klopp knows my strength is my speed, running into space,” the forward added. There’s definitely more to come from Nunez in a Liverpool shirt and he is a worthy candidate to build the new squad around.
"The player I'd probably liken him to is Didier Drogba…"@themichaelowen and @rioferdy5 think Darwin Núñez has all the potential to be a top-level striker for Liverpool! 🙌#UCL pic.twitter.com/4HDSthMRMQ
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 21, 2023
With the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip both being over the age of 30, it’s worth looking to the future in this position. While Konate has had his fair share of injuries this season, he has proven to be a reliable defender when fit.
The Frenchman was one of Liverpool’s best-performing players in the 2022 Champions League final and he could be their next star in waiting.
When discussing Konate and Van Dijk, Jamie Carragher told Sky Sports: “I think that’s the future and I don’t think it’s the future, I think it’s the right now. That is Liverpool’s two best centre backs, I think he was very unfortunate not to play in the World Cup final.
“Didier Deschamps went with (Dayot) Upamecano, I think it should have been Konate, I think whenever he played for France at the tournament he was outstanding.”
Liverpool will have to fend off Europe’s other elite clubs to get this deal over the line, but who better to build the next squad around than Bellingham?
The Borussia Dortmund midfielder has been a long-term target for Liverpool and his skill set would be of huge use to the Reds right now. If they do manage to get this deal over the line, they will surely be back at the top in no time.