Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp recently bid farewell to four players who left the club at the end of the 2021-22 season. The four were Roberto Firmino, James Milner, Naby Keita, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. While Firmino and Milner had already enjoyed years of success at Liverpool and had played over 300 appearances each, Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain had not quite lived up to their expectations.
Both midfielders were considered to be part of the future of Liverpool‘s midfield when they were signed from RB Leipzig and Arsenal respectively. However, their time at Liverpool did not quite go as expected. Keita started only 49 league games in five years, while Oxlade-Chamberlain started 46 in six years. Both players struggled with injuries and inconsistent form which hampered their progress at the club. They were ultimately released on free transfers, having failed to reach their potential.
Liverpool‘s midfield issues this season were exacerbated by the lack of contribution from Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain. The team’s many midfielders this season fell into three categories; the thirtysomethings, the youngsters, and the trio at their supposed peak. However, Fabinho had an awful campaign, and Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain were only bit-part players. The result was a season of makeshift midfields and problems at the heart of the team.
Liverpool‘s midfield struggles mean that much of their summer transfer budget will be devoted to midfielders. With a need to split the budget to get more than one midfielder, Liverpool may likely miss out on high-quality targets like Jude Bellingham. The club needs to find players who are not only of high quality but are also available for at least 50 games per season.
Replacing Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain with high-quality midfielders is critical if Liverpool is to succeed going forward. The first priority for any new player is to be available for at least 50 games per season. Liverpool must also try to get their signings right this time to avoid repeating past mistakes. The club’s ability to do so will determine their chances of success in the future.