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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is said to be prioritising the signing of a new forward in the upcoming summer transfer window. The Reds boss is looking to strengthen his squad following a disappointing 2020-21 Premier League campaign.
The defending English champions have been ravaged by injuries this term and after 29 games sit 25 points off of leaders Manchester City, albeit having played one match less.
Liverpool are already looking ahead to the summer as they look to tweak their squad in order to get back to their best next term, although they know they may not have Champions League football to offer.
The Merseyside club currently sit sixth and five points off of fourth-placed Chelsea and may need to win a seventh European Cup to guarantee their spot in the same competition next season.
Yet The Athletic say though their fate is as of yet unknown, Liverpool boss Klopp is already beginning to plan out how he wants to operate in the summer window, and a new forward is top of his list of priorities.
Having seen Diogo Jota score 10 goals in 21 games since signing from Wolves last summer, scoring the only goal against his former club at Molineux on Monday night, Klopp wants another game-changing option to call upon.
It is claimed that the German plans to bring in an extra attacker who can add to their highplevel options already, rather than replace any of them.
And that would mean extra competition for the established front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, though Klopp does not want to part with any of the trio, who are all steadily nearing their 30s.
Mane and Firmino have endured below-par campaigns this time around although Jota’s three-month injury lay-off, when the Portuguese winger would have lessened the load on the pair if available, has had a substantial impact.
Salah has been by far and away Liverpool’s top contributor this term with 25 goals across all competitions, with Mane stood on just 12 and Firmino only six.
By contrast, the Senegalese wide-man and Brazilian false nine supplied 22 goals and 12 goals respectively in Liverpool’s title-winning campaign last year, with a combined 27 of those coming in the league compared to the 13 they have managed with nine games to go this term.
Jota is Liverpool’s third-highest scorer despite his time out with injury and Klopp will hope to recruit a forward capable of having a similar impact on his team’s attack next year.
And part of Klopp’s desire to bolster in the final third, with the likes of Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri tipped to depart Anfield at the end of the current campaign, will be to help offer more rest to Salah, Mane and Firmino.
Given the demands asked of the forwards in Klopp’s high-energy Liverpool team over recent seasons, having another Jota-level player to bring in would allow for greater rest and also greater competition.
While Origi and Shaqiri have played their parts in the club’s success in recent years, it has been made clear this term that Liverpool need to upgrade on their options up top.
The Liverpool manager will also be keenly aware that Salah and Mane are expected to depart midway through the 2021-22 campaign to play in the Africa Cup of Nations for Egypt and Senegal, although the former have not yet officially qualified.
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While it is at centre-back where they have been most heavily hit by fitness problems, Liverpool’s front line has been well below standard in 2021 and at Anfield in particular.
And Klopp admits his side’s domestic struggles, having lost six straight home games in the league for the first time in the club’s history, mean they face an “almost impossible” task to finish in the top four.
“I like to be an optimist, but in the league it is almost impossible to qualify in the competition for the places that we have,” he said.
“At Tottenham, Gareth Bale is now playing again, and they are also in the running. Plus City and Manchester United, who are far away. Chelsea is on the rise.
“Reaching Champions League qualification through the league will be difficult, we know that. You don’t usually win the Champions League itself in a year with injury worries as big as we have.”
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“The opponent usually doesn’t need a lot of chances against us because we make big mistakes, insane ones that can almost be described as slapstick.
“On the other hand, we create a lot of chances, in the ‘expected goals’ we are still second behind Manchester City in the Premier League, but far from them in the ones we actually scored. This problem has been going on throughout the season.”
On the potential repercussions of missing out on Champions League qualification, Klopp continued: “It would mean a huge financial loss. Otherwise not that much.
“I am aware that in almost all football clubs in the world, I would be questioned in a situation like our current one. This is completely normal, reality, the business.
“I would accept that immediately, but it’s different here in Liverpool. Our owners, the sports director, even the players: nobody doubts anyone here. We have accepted the situation for ourselves and fight our way through it.”
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