The fact that Saudi Arabia is interested affects Liverpool’s move plans.
James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Naby Keita, who all had contracts that ended in 607, have already left.
But Jordan Henderson, who has played for the club 491 times, and Fabinho, who has played 219 times, look like they will also be leaving.
It means that boss Jurgen Klopp’s team now needs to do more of a full-scale rebuild than just fix up the midfield.
So, what’s going on?
Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad made a £40 million offer for Brazil’s Fabinho last Friday. Because of this, he did not go with the rest of the Reds team to a training camp in Germany the next day.
Henderson did make the trip because of rumors about Al-Ettifaq, but he was left out of Liverpool’s first preseason game on Wednesday against Karlsruher because the club had agreed in principle to sell him to the Saudi side for £12 million plus add-ons.
Last season, both of them, along with most of the rest of the Liverpool team, had a hard time. However, they got back on track and helped the team win seven of their last nine games.
They were not going to be shown the way out of Anfield like Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Keita were.
When Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai came in as attacking midfielders, the Reds were supposed to work on finding a long-term replacement for Fabinho, who is 29 years old.
Romeo Lavia, a 19-year-old player for Southampton, was one of the players being considered for this job. However, the Brazilian’s impending departure has changed the picture a bit.
The Reds could now choose to replace Fabinho with a player who is more ready for the first team than Lavia. This player is known as the “lighthouse” and “Dyson” because he can spot and clear up danger in the holding midfield role.
The midfielders at the club can handle the loss of Henderson, but it will be harder to find a replacement for Fabinho.
Stefan Bajcetic did well for Klopp’s team last year, but he’s only 18 years old. Taking over Fabinho’s job is a big deal, especially since he hasn’t been able to play since March because of an injury to his leg.
Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott, and Thiago Alcantara will all be back after helping England win the European Under-21 Championship. However, neither Jones nor Elliott is a specialist holding player, and neither is Alcantara.
Moises Caicedo of Brighton would fit the bill, but he is not one of the possible targets being thought about because he is likely to join Chelsea.
How much practice does Liverpool’s midfield have?
Players played gamesScored goalsAssists
Jordan Henderson 492 33 57
James Milner 332 26 45
Fabinho 219 11 9
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored 146 points, and Naby Keita scored 129.
A job for Jorg Schmadtke
Liverpool’s sports director Jorg Schmadtke will have a big impact on how well the team handles Fabinho’s departure.
This summer, the club made a big change off the field when the German took over from Julian Ward. Ward’s last move was to bring Argentina’s World Cup winner Mac Allister from Brighton for an initial £35m.
Schmadtke’s first move was to sign RB Leipzig’s Szoboszlai for £60 million. He has to deal with the Fabinho curve ball along with the Reds’ recruitment team.
Speed might be important. Before Liverpool came back for pre-season, they signed Mac Allister and Szoboszlai. That was important to give them the best chance of getting used to the way the team plays and what Klopp wants before the season started.
Any new player who joins Klopp’s team will have to do the same thing in the key defensive middle role. Liverpool’s season starts on August 13 at Chelsea.
At the end of last season, Trent Alexander-Arnold played a part that was a mix of right back and midfield for Liverpool.
In the first half against Karlsruher, he was in midfield and Conor Bradley, who was 20 at the time, was at right back. James McConnell, who was 18, was in the middle of the field after 11 substitutions at halftime.
How Klopp’s team has changed over time
Some might say that Liverpool’s midfield might not have needed such a big change if they hadn’t signed Thiago in 2020 after he left Bayern Munich, which was their last first-team ready midfield deal before this summer.
But there have been other big changes to Klopp’s team, which won the Champions League in 2019 and the Premier League in 2020 after a 30-year wait.
Since Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino left, the front line looks a lot different. Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz, Darwin Nunez, and Cody Gakpo have joined Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota in the last 18 months.
With the changes in midfield and attack, the question now is, after last season’s lack of consistency and poor performance, if Klopp can turn his present players and any new additions into a team that can win the title again.
When Klopp said that the foundations for this season were being built, Liverpool got 23 of the last 27 points, which was a good sign. Whether or not they can build on that is still to be seen.