September 7 is a significant date for Liverpool as it marks the first anniversary of their humiliating 4-1 defeat at the hands of Napoli in the Champions League.
While the Reds have suffered big defeats before that match, and will again in that future, the result took on extra significance due to Jurgen Klopp‘s quotes to the media following the game.
It appeared to mark the end of an era in some ways as just months after almost leading the Reds to a quadruple, Klopp said that it was time for the Reds to ‘reinvent’ after a woeful start to the season – which ultimately led to them missing out on Champions League qualification.
He knew it was time to phase out the old guard, bring in some fresh faces and lower the age profile of one of the oldest teams in the Premier League.
It was in midfield where Klopp knew a revamp was needed. The summer window brought in perhaps more change than he would have even envisioned, with the shock exits of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho to Saudi Arabia, following the likes of James Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out of the door.
September 7 marks a year to the day since Liverpool suffered a humiliating loss to Napoli
Jurgen Klopp admitted after that match that Liverpool were in desperate need of ‘reinvention’
A year on, Liverpool have made a strong start to the season with new signings including Dominik Szoboszlai (pictured) and Alexis Mac Allister already appearing to make a difference
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Liverpool spent £145million on midfielders this summer, with Dominik Szoboszlai, Alexis Mac Allister, Wataru Endo and Ryan Gravenberch all signing for the Reds.
The early signs are positive for Liverpool, with Szoboszlai and Mac Allister already looking like perfect fits in Klopp’s midfield.
Cody Gakpo – £45m
Dominik Szoboszlai – £60m
Alexis Mac Allister – £35m
Wataru Endo – £16m
Ryan Gravenberch – £35m
Jordan Henderson – £12m
Fabinho – £40m
Naby Keita – free
Roberto Firmino – free
James Milner – free
Both players bring in boundless levels of energy, while also providing a greater attacking threat. Liverpool fans have been raving over Szoboszlai in particular, with some even suggesting that the Reds have ‘finally replaced Steven Gerrard’.
Endo meanwhile has performed admirably despite two of his three games seeing the Reds reduced to ten men, while Gravenberch is yet to make his debut after only arriving on deadline day.
Despite struggling for game-time at Bayern Munich, there are hopes Klopp can get the best out of Gravenberch, who has been regarded as one of the best young midfield prospects in the game over recent years.
Liverpool have taken three wins from their opening four games, when it took them nine games to get that many last season.
But their results had begun to turn for the better towards the end of last season after some changes to their system. The most notable change was Trent Alexander-Arnold’s switch to a central role when in possession.
The Reds are now unbeaten in their last 15 Premier League games which is the best record of any team in the top-flight.
They were dominant in a 3-0 win over Aston Villa at the weekend, and looked comfortable in a 3-1 win over Bournemouth despite Mac Allister being sent off with a red card which was eventually overturned.
But it was their performance against Newcastle which was the best example to show why the Reds reinvention is working.
For the majority of last season, Liverpool would have folded if they were 1-0 down after 30 minutes, and without their best centre back, Virgil van Dijk, who had been sent off.
However, Klopp’s side hung in there, putting on the kind of performance which would have had the German calling them ‘mentality monsters’ just two years ago.
The game swung in their momentum after they brought on Diogo Jota and Harvey Elliott, before Darwin Nunez later came on and helped the Reds produce a remarkable comeback, scoring two excellent late goals to give the Reds a massive three points at St James’ Park.
Alexis Mac Allister has impressed despite getting a red card which was eventually overturned
Liverpool have also signed Wataru Endo (left) and Ryan Gravenberch (right) in a summer of major change in the middle of the park as the Reds look to return to title contention
It was the kind of performance, which while early in the season, would have caught the attention of those sides aspiring to challenge for the title and top-four.
Liverpool’s midfield signings will give the Reds a greater goal threat from the middle of the park, after Henderson, Fabinho and Milner failed to score a single goal between them last season despite playing a collective total of 135 games.
What those players did in the past though was offer stability and protection for the back-line, something Klopp will hope to get out of his new midfield signings.
Meanwhile, it was in January when Klopp finished remodelling Liverpool’s front line with the addition of Cody Gakpo, following the arrivals of Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz and Nunez in recent seasons.
Despite losing Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, Liverpool with those new additions, along with Manchester City, have the greatest attacking depth in the Premier League.
Nunez and Gakpo are improving all the time after their slow starts at Anfield, while Jota and Diaz will hope to have injury-free seasons after their struggles last season.
Perhaps the player Liverpool fear losing the most though is Mohamed Salah, with the Egyptian attracting interesting from Saudi Arabia, with Al-Ittihad considering a £200m move for the most popular Arab player in world football.
While other experienced players have left, Liverpool are reluctant to let the Egyptian go, as he is still their most influential attacking player.
While other experienced players have left, Mohamed Salah is still Liverpool’s most important player at the age of 31, and the Reds have been desperate to fight off Saudi interest in their star
Darwin Nunez is hoping to make a big impact in his second season at Anfield, and the Uruguayan striker will take great confidence from inspiring the Reds to victory at Newcastle
A defensive revamp is expected to come for the Reds in the future, though the likes of Joe Gomez are hoping to impress this season
No player has scored more goals in the Premier League than Salah’s 139 since he arrived at the Reds in 2017 and he is averaging 31 goals per season in all competitions across his six years at Anfield.
It is not just for his goals why Salah is still so important to this Liverpool team, he is also a creative hub, providing goal contributions in his last ten consecutive Premier League games.
The presence of a natural No 9 in Nunez, could see Salah’s assist numbers continue to go up, as the Uruguayan gets more used to the Reds in his second season at the club.
Fighting off Saudi Arabia’s interest in Salah will be imperative for the Reds to mount a title challenge this season.
Despite their promising start it is likely that the Reds’ reinvention is not quite over.
Attention will likely turn to defence with Joel Matip out of contract next summer and captain Virgil van Dijk now 32.
Joe Gomez impressed against Newcastle and Aston Villa, and he will be hoping that he can finally become the player Liverpool hoped. However, both he and Ibrahima Konate’s regular injuries provide Klopp another reason why he will want to strengthen at the centre of defence.
Liverpool though look rejuvenated following the work Klopp has done to the squad up until this point.
The German described his squad as ‘Liverpool reloaded’ and the work that has been done might not be enough to beat Man City to the title this season, but it looks like it has put them back in the fight and given them a strong base to get back to trophy-winning ways over the coming years.
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