Football News: LIVERPOOL 2016/17 Season Review: A Transfer Perspective

 

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They say that the only time you should ever look back is to see how far you’ve come. The 2016/17 season was certainly a very important one for Liverpool Football Club as a whole. A season which might perhaps be looked at as a turning point in this great club’s history. It was Jurgen Klopp’s first full season as Liverpool manager. Klopp who had arrived to Liverpool with much fanfare (35000 freaking fans tracked his flight) had the job of revitalizing a squad which was coming off a demoralizing loss to Sevilla in the Europa League Final and an underwhelming 8th place finish. The task ahead was tough and the first step started with the summer transfer window.



Six signings and ten months later, Liverpool were back in the top 4 surpassing rivals like Arsenal and Manchester United who were even favored to win the title at the start of the season. It was a season of numerous ups and downs. From going into the international break at the top of the table to the embarrassing defeats in January. Through this article I’ll look at the players who arrived in the summer transfer window of 2016/17 and perhaps some of who were instrumental in pushing us into 4th spot.

JOEL MATIP

Our first signing of the summer although a pre-contract was arranged for him much earlier, Matip made a very strong start to season impressing in his early outings with the club. He scored his first goal for us in the Crystal Palace game. Described by Klopp as a real “centre half”, “physically strong” and “good in technical play” , Matip seemed to be the solution to our long standing defensive woes. It seemed clear that Liverpool were much better defensively with Matip and we finally had a stable defensive pairing in Lovren and Matip. But then injuries struck and what followed was Matip only playing 3 games in total during the months of December and January. This also coincided with our worst run of the season. What followed next was a spat with FIFA which kept out Matip of the team when fit for a couple of games. Niggles continued to hamper Matip throughout the season and this never allowed Klopp to field a constant defensive pairing for a run of games.



Looking forward I believe Matip will be a very important cog in our defensive unit. While he no doubt impressed throughout the season, his injuries remain a concern and whether a he can play a full season without any major knocks in the unforgiving English schedule remains to be seen. His partnership with Lovren was at times impressive but seeing as Lovren suffers from the same injury concerns, perhaps another centre back might be needed. A tall pony tailed Dutch perhaps.

LORIS KARIUS

Let me first get something out of the way. Loris is a good player but there’s no doubt in my mind that Karius will be doing very well if he swapped the football field for the Ramp. Karius arrived from Mainz in the summer for a transfer fee of 4.7 million pounds. A pittance for a young German keeper in today’s market who was also voted the second best in his position in Bundesliga behind Neuer by his peers. Fans had high hopes of The Young German who they hoped would replace the incumbent Simon Mignolet. However fate was to be cruel as Karius suffered a broken arm before the start of the season. When he returned Klopp decided to pledge his support for Karius who was declared as our No 1. However a run of games with shaky performances followed and which ended up with him getting benched after less than impressive performaces against Bournemouth and West Ham. It was good to see though Karius stand up for himself after some pretty harsh criticism from a certain ex United player/pundit/failed football manager.

As the new season looms Karius has vowed to stay and fight for his place. While I do believe he was not very impressive in his first season here, I think it needs to be remembered that he is still only 23. Even De Gea was awful in his first season with United. With the increased number of games Karius it remains to be seen whether Karius can grab the opportunities that come his way with two hands and a firm grip.

SADIO MANE

What a signing, eh? When rumours first emerged about us being interested in Sadio, they were met with moans and whining with people asking “ Why not Gotze?” Fans were understandably cautious about signing another expensive player from a mid table team after Benteke and Carroll. What followed was perhaps one of the most impressive starts by a new signing which started with that fantastic solo goal against Arsenal (and the subsequent piggyback ride on Klippperty) and helped propell us to the top of the table. When he missed the second game of the season against Burnley our attack looked toothless without him. Thus it really wasn’t a surprise how severely his absence was missed during the period of January when he was off on national duty. He did return as our savior though scoring two goals against Tottenham which helped us shake off our terrible form. Despite missing the latter part of the season through injury, Mane was awared the Liverpool player of the season award with 13 goals and 8 assists.



For me Mane has become our best player now. He added a dimension to our team which was sorely lacking with his pace and the width he provided. He remains a concern for the start of the season and I hope his knee injuries don’t affect him as seriously they did with Torres. Because if he stays fit, him and Salah on the wings is sure to give many Premier League defenses nightmares.

RAGNAR KLAVAN

This was a transfer that came out of the left field although a centre back was needed at that time with both Skrtel and Toure leaving the club. Brought in from Augsburg to be a back up option to the first choice centre backs, Lovren and Matip. However due to the injury concerns of both players, Klavan ended up making 14 starts for us. While Ragnar impressed at times with his strength, tackling and positional awareness, his weakness against pacy players who would run at him left us exposed at times and playing a high line with him in the team became a liability.
A solid but unspectacular season was what it was from Klavan in my eyes.

He’ll continue to remain a backup option at the club. While many fans believe that he is not good for enough, I don’t echo these sentiments. I think Klavan is a decent backup for us with the increased number of games and his performances over the previous season were certainly good enough to justify him a squad role at the club in the coming season.

GEORGINIO WIJNALDUM

This was a surprise transfer to many including me as a centre midfielder was not the highest on our requirements with Liverpool still searching for something called “ A Left-Back”. There had been no prior links to Wijnaldum ( Gini? Wiji? Gigi? ) and the transfer was wrapped up in a few days. Many fans were meh on the idea of signing him. Wijnaldum was coming off a decent season personally with Newcastle where he had been employed in a much more attacking role. Klopp though had different plans for him though. Starting the season with a 4-3-3, Klopp chose to employ Wijnaldum as a part of the midfield three where gradually one word became his- Consistency. Looking for a get out pass, Wijnaldum was there. Looking to switch the play or just slow down the tempo of a game during times of pressure, Wijnaldum would be everpresent. With a fabulous engine, it was only a matter of time till the goals started coming with winners against Arsenal and Manchester City and an equalizer against Chelsea.



Wijnaldum for me was one of the revelations of a season. He excelled in a role where not much was expected of him. He did the simple things accurately albeit a lot of his work would go unnoticed. However a shadow looms over his starting spot for the next season with Klopp looking to bring in Navy Keita to help anchor the midfield. It remains to be seen whether Wijnaldum will rise to the challenge but one thing is for sure, he’ll continue to give his best and prove many of his critics wrong

Looking back, I’ll rate the summer transfer window of 2016-17 season as a success ( not that my verdict counts for anything) . We managed to improve in positons we lacked like center back and on the wings. Failure to sign a left back was a concern but James Milner’s grit took care of that. Here’s to hoping we can have another great transfer window and push on for the title in this coming season.

Cheers and Signing Out,
Reet.

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