Liverpool have signed 5 players with a sixth (Southampton’s Nathaniel Clyne) seemingly just days away after a £12m fee has been agreed. Milner (free), Bogdan (free), Ings (fee to be decided by tribunal but likely to be around £8m), Gomez (£3.5m) and Firmino (believed to be around £22m but rising to £28m with add-ons) have or at least will sign for us on July 1st when the Transfer Window officially opens. Firmino is yet to have his medical due to Copa America commitments but issues over his work permit are resolved and the FA have already stated there is no reason why he won’t get one. Liverpool will also lose the services of Gerrard, Johnson and Brad Jones as well as a couple of youth players that have been let go too. Aspas has been sold for a fee believed to be £5m to Sevilla (where he spent last season on loan) who then sold him on to Celta Vigo.
Personally I see our strongest formation as a 3-4-1-2 or 3-4-2-1, one of the centre-forwards in my line up can play a bit deeper leaving just the 1 up front. I see this line up being used against ‘stronger’ teams.
Firmino could of course play deeper. I do think Milner is better as a Left Wing Back as opposed to a central position but his versatility and of course experience will help Liverpool both on and off the pitch. Gomez, Illori and Wisdom could get an opportunity in the back 3 – particularly in the early stages of the cup, assuming they stay rather than go on loan and if we opt for this formation. With Sturridge out at the start, I can see Firmino starting up front with Ibe and Coutinho behind.
Of course this line up is based on current squad, assuming Sterling leaves (even if he stays I think the above is our best line up) and recent performances. My opinion could change if we make other signings, lose any of the above players and of course how we get on in pre-season too.
At this years UEFA European u21 Championship, Can has impressed in a midfield role and I think a better player than Milner in this area although I think Milner would be better on the left than Can. I do think that Moreno could seriously challenge Milner for a start but based on last season, I have opted for Milner. Markovic also looked good when played in his natural position and I do think he still has a lot to offer. Illori has also impressed for Portugal (as well as whilst on loan at Bordeaux last season) so I do think he could get a few opportunities this year.
I think we could also go for a 4-2-3-1 (or 4-4-2) against less attacking teams allowing us an extra attacking option ourselves.
In this formation (or minor variations), Clyne and Milner are still wing backs although slightly deeper than above with Can and Henderson sat in front of the defence for cover if/when needed. The movement, trickery, creativeness and pace would certainly give us a potent strike force. With Sturridge out, I would move Firmino into the Strikers position and play Lallana instead. An alternative maybe to bring Moreno into LWB and move Milner further forward…
The one thing to note though is that in all my line ups, the spine of the team remains unchanged. Something that I see as important in a good team anyway. The only time I would change the spine would be for enforced (injury or suspension) or tactical (to rest or give a player the proverbial kick up the backside, or because we need something different – defensive/attack)
Again this line-up is based purely on current squad etc and could change if/when we sign others and pre-season performances. As you can see there is no place for Bogdan, Gomez or Ings in my starting line-ups. I don’t think Bogdan is likely to challenge Mignolet for the number 1 jersey but I do think he is a better back-up than Jones. Ward has just signed a new contract but I don’t think he is ready for the first team yet. Gomez is definitely one for the future so I don’t think he will be a first team regular… yet – may even be loaned out. Ings (in my opinion) isn’t prolific or good enough for a start but at 22 has potential and will give us a good work rate. Having good players around him and talented players to learn from, he could well be a good acquisition. Maybe a good player to bring on and harass a tiring defence…
Its still ‘early’ days and the transfer window hasn’t yet officially opened. Like I said this is purely based on last years performances and the (potential) squad as it stands at this moment in time. By the time the transfer window closes on September 1st (a Tuesday because of the Bank Holiday on Monday), 67 days from now (at the time of writing) a lot can change of course. By that point we will have a better idea with pre-season matches and a few EPL matches too. Maybe some of those players on the fringe will step up and force there way into the starting line up, maybe we will get another marquee signing or 2 with the funds from the departures… It will be interesting to see if my opinion has changed by then.
Anyway, this is the my opinion as of right now. It would be interesting to see what you think LFC’s strongest line up would be and how it compares with my selections above.