Before I could truly focus on building our youth system, and developing the youngsters that come from it, there were a few areas of the squad that I felt needed extra depth for the coming season. In building that depth, I aimed to buy younger players who were ready for top-flight football, so that I can develop them and potentially sell them on.
My first ‘problem area’ was on the right wing: Mohamed Salah is obviously a king, but behind him there is very little cover. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is capable of playing on the wings, however I intend to use him more centrally, and so I felt that bringing in cover for the right flank was important.
Cue one of my favourite Scottish talents, Motherwell winger Chris Cadden.
Cadden – signed for £9m – is a versatile player who can fill various positions in both midfield and defence. He doesn’t look like a guy who will set the world on fire, but I was drawn in by his work-rate, passing and crossing abilities. Our right-sided midfielder plays as an inside forward, but Cadden provides a slightly different threat with his crossing ability as well as being able to put the ball on the ground and go past his man.
I also realised very quickly that I needed depth on our other wing. Sadio Mane is going to be our first-choice Winger on the left wing, however Yan Dhanda isn’t quite ready to be his full-time backup (although the youngster will see decent game-time this year). I opted for a loan here, bringing in Joaquin Correa from Sevilla as backup for Mane
Our third area of improvement was in the centre of midfield. Because I’m using three central midfielders, I felt that we needed a bit more depth and quality in the side, without breaking the bank. At a bargain £12.25m, Andre Gomes is the man I feel will add that depth and quality, and for a player of his quality, the price is an absolute bargain.
I was originally planning on playing Andre as a Deep Lying Playmaker, but I think his attributes and traits lend themselves more to one of the Central Midfielder roles on either side of the midfield – he likes to get forward, and asking him to hold the midfield together would dampen that natural enthusiasm.
I also brought in one of my favourite young midfielders, meeting his £22.5m release clause just before the deadline. Sampdoria man Lucas Torreira is a player i’ve used before, and I think he’ll excel in the Premier League. Likely to play in the DLP role, Torreira’s vision and passing are massively important, and his willingness to set up team-mates and look for the simple ball to retain possession will be important to our system.
Our final first-team signing is one which offers depth at Right-Back. With Nathaniel Clyne out for what feels like forever, I wasn’t completely convinced that Trent Alexander-Arnold could cope with the demands of a full season, and I want to be able to use Joe Gomez in the centre of defence, because thats where I feel he can give most to the team. As such, I went out and triggered the £35.5m release clause in Alvaro Odriozola‘s contract, and brought him to Anfield.
The Spaniard’s willingness to push forward and hug the line will hopefully allow the winger in front of him to cut inside if needed, and Alvaro’s crossing ability will make him a good attacking threat down the right hand side. My intention is to rotate Alvaro and Trent based on opposition, but I’m very keen to see how those traits play out in-game, because I might use them on all my full-backs if it proves useful.
In terms of signings for our youth teams, I had pinpointed a few players during scouting which I felt could add some quality in the future, and develop well for us.
The first new arrival – and a player I aim to sign every time – was Mathjis De Ligt. The 17-year old arrived from Ajax in an £18.5m deal, but despite his price tag, he is still going to spend the season in our youth setup, with a view to stepping up next season.
Joining De Ligt in our Under 18s this season is former Leipzig man Elias Abouchabaka, who joined for £1.8m. The youngster is a natural attacking midfielder, however looking at his attributes, I’m very much planning to mould him into the Deep Lying Playmaker role, because I feel he can excel there.
Our final two signings are early-game Newgens, because I forgot to untick ‘add players to teams.’
Abdoul Karim Coulibaly (who i’ve nicknamed Karim, because it’s easier than typing all that out every time) joined from PSG for £3.5m and is currently being trained as a right winger, although as he naturally plays deeper, he still has a lot of work to do. I have asked Mohamed Salah to tutor him, so we should hopefully see some improvements over the next year, at which point I’ll make a call on whether he steps into first-team action, or moves to reserve football.
Our second young face is goalkeeper Daniel Unwin, and i’m hoping his surname is no indicator of his ability. A £250k arrival from Coventry, the 16 year old has time to develop, and i’m quite happy with his attributes for such a young player. Goalkeeping is something Liverpool have had a long-standing issue with, and i’m not going to place any great expectations at the youngster’s door, so we will just wait and see how it goes.
Overall, i’m pleased with our transfer window, and I think the depth in the first team is now good enough to allow me to press on with developing our youngsters.