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Football News: Who's In Arne Slot's Liverpool First Team Squad?

Who's In Arne Slot's Liverpool First Team Squad?

A new manager always brings a new lease of life to a squad of players. Fresh ideas and a clean slate. Players who previously weren't in the future plans can suddenly become key members of the squad, and players who thought they were untouchable can find themselves surplus to requirements!

So just how many Liverpool players will be out for Arne Slot's attention this summer? In total, I count 57 players currently contracted to the club who have had a taste of senior football.

Of course some of these will soon see their contracts expire. Most notably, Joel Matip and Thiago Alcantara call time on their Liverpool careers this summer. Perhaps somewhat under the radar, Adrian San Miguel and Mateusz Musialowski will also be out of contract. For the mathematicians out there, you'll note that still leaves Slot with 53 players to whittle down into a manageable first team squad.

Goalkeepers: Alisson Becker, Caoimhin Kelleher, Vitezslav Jaros, Fabian Mrozek, Marcelo Pitaluga, Harvey Davies, Jakub Ojrznyski

Quite incredibly out of the 7 goalkeepers we have almost none of them are guarantees to be here next season. Alisson is arguably the best shot stopper in the world, but Kelleher is better with his feet and seemingly less injury prone. Only time will tell who Slot goes with as his number 1 but I think it's generally accepted amongst the fans that Alisson is as untouchable as it gets in our squad. He's that good when he is fit that he arguably walks into any team on earth. We've seen at Manchester City and Arsenal though that this is a position new managers will quite often use to put down a marker, especially if they believe in building up attacks from the back.

There is then a bit of a free for all amongst the other 5, as somebody among them could fancy their chances at becoming 3rd choice. After all, Kelleher started as 3rd choice and ended up muscling Adrian aside to become the primary back up. Jaros is probably the most first team ready having just won the Austrian League and Cup double with Sturm Graz. He may even fancy himself as the 2nd choice goalkeeper if Kelleher were to move on. However Marcelo Pitaluga was regarded as the top goalkeeping talent in South America when we signed him a few years back. Mrozek, Davies and Ojrznyski might fancy their chances but I'd say they're significant underdogs.

Right Back: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Connor Bradley, Calvin Ramsay, Anderson Arroyo

On paper, Trent is the perfect full back for Slot. His ability on the ball will enable him to transition into whatever position is required, whether that is going beyond the winger or coming inside to overload the midfield. Trent is a supreme footballer and the only reason he wouldn't be starting at right back next season, would be if he was starting in midfield.

Bradley will certainly be hoping Trent moves into midfield because he is as ready as you can be to kick on and become a first team regular. In fact at one point last season he was the best player on the pitch for us over a sustained run of games. I think he is a better 1v1 defender than Trent as well.

Ramsay is similar in profile to Trent, and should also thrive in a team where he is asked to be heavily involved in the build up to the attacking phase. His issue is his fitness and that might just be what results in him eventually moving on. Poor kid just can't catch a break.

Arroyo really should just be sold now. Most people probably forgot he was still a Liverpool player!

Centre Back: Virgil van Djik, Jarrell Quansah, Ibrahima Konate, Joe Gomez, Sepp van den Berg, Nat Phillips, Rhys Williams, Billy Koumetio, Amara Nallo

It probably goes without saying that the skipper will be here next season. It seems unlikely that Slot would come in and move on such an influential compatriot, who still has so much to offer at the highest level. I'd be amazed if Virgil doesn't start the first game of next season with the armband on.

His partner is much harder to call. Quansah and Konate will both fancy their chances and it could easily be either of them. I personally prefer Quansah but Konate's recovery pace is quite incredible at times so if Slot wants to press really high, that might be a deciding factor.

In with an outside shot would be Gomez and van den Berg. They both offer great recovery pace too but also a little bit more positional versatility than Konate which may be important in Slot's fluid tactical approach. Both these players will also be wary though that they could find themselves replaced. Gomez hasn't played consistently well at centre back for nearly half a decade and van den Berg has no Premier League experience. I'd personally like to see Sepp given a chance and Gomez moved on, but there is no doubt Slot will assess them in pre-season and make his own judgements. If he doesn't have faith in either of them we'll need to sign a new centre back.

Phillips, Williams and Koumetio should all be moved on. They're neither mobile enough nor are they good enough technically for the highest level. Aside from Phillips, they've not even impressed on loan at a much lower level of football. As for Nallo, he's still just a kid and we might see him named on the bench again next season but it's extremely unlikely he'll make a dent on the starting line-up any time soon.

Left Back: Andy Robertson, Kostas Tsimikas, Owen Beck, Luke Chambers, Calum Scanlon, James Norris, Adam Lewis

Robertson might be slowing down but he's still way out ahead of the other options at left back. Don't be surprised if he is still first choice next season. His energy to pop up in places he has no right to be is something Slot is likely to really value.

Tsimikas on the other hand could be in for a testing time. He is a very one dimensional left back who just runs in straight lines and never truly looks in control of his own feet. His defensive work rate and set piece delivery is very good, but with so many good young left backs coming up in his rear view mirror, he should be concerned.

Of those young left backs there are two clear standouts. You have Beck who is very much like Robertson and loves to play on the front foot. His ball carrying ability is similar to Robbo's and he has a very clean technique. The other is Chambers, who is less direct than Beck but probably more tactically astute meaning he is able to play in midfield and at centre back. On paper both of these players have attributes Slot will like, so it could be a straight shoot out between them for game time.

Scanlon probably probably needs a loan similar to those that have benefitted Chambers and Beck. Norris and Lewis really should be looking to move on though. There are younger and better players ahead of them in the pecking order and it would be some turnaround for 24 year old Lewis to forge out an Anfield career from here.

Defensive Midfield: Wataru Endo, Stefan Bajcetic, James McConnell, Tyler Morton, Luca Stephenson

Endo has been a superb signing for us, but at 31 years old he is not a long term solution here. Bajcetic will be hoping to get back to his best next season but he'll really need to impress in pre-season after so long out injured, if he's going to be relied on next season as a regular. He did play his best football for us in a double pivot with Thiago though, so Slot's system may suit him. Both Endo and Bajcetic both have versatility on their side as well, able to drop in at centre back and also push on as a more orthodox midfielder.

Given our two main options here are over 30 and under 20, I wouldn't be surprised to see us dip into the market, but I'd expect a versatile midfielder with good defensive instincts rather than a specialist number 6 type player.

McConnell had a good breakthrough season, but I'm not sure he's physically ready for the Premier League yet, and the club should look to find him a good Championship loan move. Speaking of which, Morton has really impressed at Hull City and he'll come back in the summer hoping to catch the eye of the new coaches. If he isn't seen as a genuine option for us though, he has at least earned himself a good move. As for Stephenson, he'll be looking to go on loan again to a team at a slightly higher level than League 2 Barrow, so he can further prove himself.

Central Midfield: Alexis Mac Allister, Ryan Gravenberch, Curtis Jones, Bobby Clark, Dominic Corness, Trey Nyoni, Tom Hill

Mac Allister is likely to really thrive in Slot's system. It's all about quick passing through the lines and he is probably our best player at doing just that. I expect him to be a mainstay in the side either further forward getting into the box or in the double pivot playing a key role in the build up.

Another player who likes to play through the lines is Gravenberch. He's probably the best player in the squad at receiving the ball on the half turn and drawing fouls from the opposition. He needs to improve his decision making after he does turn out, but the ability is there.

It pains me to write this, but it could really be last chance saloon for Jones. He's got to stay fit next year. On paper his ability to keep possession by playing simple and using his deceptive strength to shield the ball could be a big asset in a slower build up phase. He lacks the confidence to really try incisive actions on the pitch though, and that will only come back from playing regularly.

I'm also looking forward to seeing Clark kick on. He is another who loves taking the ball under pressure and making clever movements into space. I wouldn't be surprised to see him utilised even more regularly under Slot as he can also push into the frontline and make aggressive runs beyond the forwards.

In terms of some lesser known options here, Corness has had a decent loan in Switzerland without really making any headlines, but I'm not convinced he'll play is way into the first team thoughts. Hill is in a similar situation to Lewis where younger players have simply surpassed him, and he'll likely need to move on. Nyoni is the one who could really make an impact in the future, but he's still so young that we're only likely to see cameos next season, even if he is a very exciting prospect.

Attacking Midfield: Dominik Szoboszlai, Harvey Elliott, Fabio Carvalho, James Balagizi

Szoboszlai really needs to rediscover his early season form next year. Towards the back end of the season he saw himself completely outshone by Elliott. In fact Elliott will be gutted the season ended when it did because he was flying and if he carries that into next season, Slot won't be able to ignore him. Both these players are relentless in terms of their pressing though so I can easily see them being rotated and both having a big influence as Slot's main options in the number 10 role.

Carvalho had a very good loan spell at Hull City in the second half of the season after failing to make any impact at RB Leipzig earlier in the season. He has a penchant for scoring from the edge of the area and that can be a useful trait in a team that utilises a slower build up play, as it draws players out of position to close you down if they know you've got the ability to score from 20 yards out. Attitude and work rate are what might hold him back, though a new regime might motivate him to try and save his Liverpool career.

Balagizi on the other hand probably won't be saving his Liverpool career. He had a very patchy time out on loan at Wigan, which resulted in him being recalled and sent to Kilmarnock instead. He did nothing of note at either club so the Premier League is probably well beyond him.

Right Wing: Mohamed Salah, Ben Doak, Kaide Gordon, Melkamu Frauendorf

A decision has got to be made on Salah. He's still the most effective right winger in the world when you look at his goal and assist return, but his overall impact on games is clearly on the wane. He probably needs to retire from International football because the AFCON kills his season every time. Either that or he needs to accept being rotated and not throw a tantrum on the touchline when he does get rested. I personally hope he signs a 1 year extension and stays because next year will be hard enough for Slot without having to try and replace 40 goals and assists.

Doak and Gordon will both have their eyes on featuring more next season. Gordon has just signed a new deal and after a torrid time with injury, he'll be hoping to get back to the form that saw Derby coaches claim he was the best 16 year old in the country. Doak will hoping to get on the plane for Scotland this summer and maybe that is just the confidence boost he needs to bounce back quickly from his knee injury. They both need to add more end product to their games though. I still think it is likely Elliott will be used here when Salah is not available, but I won't completely rule out these two very talented young individuals.

I think we probably can rule out Frauendorf though. He is 20 now and he's just never really lived up to expectations. Hopefully he gets a good loan move to try and reignite his career. He was very highly thought of just two years ago and I'm not really sure what happened.

Centre Forward: Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota, Jayden Danns

Darwin, the enigma and bringer of chaos. Have we ever had a more frustrating player? I really hope Slot and his staff can help Nunez discover some composure. His pace and instincts make him impossible to defend against on his day, and most defenders are left just hoping he misses the target. Unfortunately he normally obliges! It's unlikely he's leaving so we will need to get behind him again as he is definitely a confidence player.

As for Jota, he's the complete opposite. He lacks the pace to get into the positions Nunez does, but when he does he is as cool as a cucumber. He doesn't just hit the target, he hits the corners. The elephant in the room of course, is he seems incapable of playing more than half a season. Worth keeping purely because the half a season he does play he bags 15-20 goals. He's ultimately just as frustrating as Nunez but for a totally different reason.

Lastly we have Danns who came out of nowhere and became an instant fan favourite with his ruthless double in the FA Cup. He looks like he has the eye for goal and to be honest, when the team was struggling for goals at the back end of the season, I think it was a mistake not to trust him more. I'm really hoping he gets chances this season because he looks a real talent.

Left Wing: Cody Gakpo, Luis Diaz, Lewis Koumas

Gakpo will be really looking forward to next season. Slot's assistant manager is Sipke Hulshoff, who's been heavily involved with the Dutch national team for several years. As many of you will know, they have built the national team around getting the best out of Gakpo. So expect him to become a very key player going forward, maybe even the main man up front. He looked good towards the end of the season alternating with Diaz between the Left Wing and Centre Forward roles.

Speaking of Diaz, Is he finally going to get his dream move to Barcelona? It seems they both want it to happen. If that is the case, then it's a case of 'wish him luck and move on' because he is certainly not irreplaceable. In fact, Gakpo is younger and arguably the more effective of the two anyway. We'd get good money back to sign a replacement as well.

Koumas definitely isn't ready for regular senior football from what we saw this season. He needs to bulk up. However he did show he has an eye for goal. Deflected or not, he found the space and got the shot away to force the error. Maybe a loan would do him good, or another year with the u21's.

Conclusion: This is going to be a very good season!

Slot has a huge squad of players to evaluate this summer and it isn't ideal that there is a major tournament that will hamper his assessments and preparations. However for some of the younger lads, it will be a big opportunity to impress him whilst the senior players are off competing internationally.

Ultimately we're probably going to need another back up goal keeper if Kelleher leaves, a versatile defender who can play in a fluid back line to bolster our options there, a midfielder comfortable in a double pivot to replace Thiago, and a winger who can operate on either flank if Diaz or Salah do move on. Other than that it's less about what we need, and more about whether Slot wants to make any radical changes.

The squad's been left in a really healthy state by Jurgen Klopp and his team. There is so much young talent here that some might not even get a chance. It's also great for the club that very few players are in decline following the departures of Adrian, Matip and Thiago. Salah and Robertson are probably the only ones who look anywhere close to dropping off, as Alisson, Virgil and Endo all look like they have years left in the tank.

In the end, it was probably good that Klopp stuck around to oversee the major midfield rebuild, because now we're only 3 or 4 players away from turning that 3rd place finish into a proper title challenge. It's given Slot the opportunity to hit the ground running and I believe he can bring us silverware right from the off.

Written by MK Scouser May 27 2024 18:35:19


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