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How Liverpool could line-up in 2023/24 after Manuel Ugarte transfer and three other signings



How Liverpool could line-up in 2023/24 after Manuel Ugarte transfer and three other signings

An underwhelming season at Anfield looks set to be compounded by Liverpool missing out on Champions League qualification for the first time in seven seasons.

But there promises to be plenty to look forward to in the summer transfer window as Jurgen Klopp is tasked with building his second, great dynasty on Merseyside.

The main bulk of the Reds’ recruitment is expected to take place in midfield, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and James Milner all set to depart the club once their contracts expire at the end of June. And with Fabinho 30 in October, and captain Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara both already 32, another significant factor is decreasing the average age of the engine room.

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As reported by the ECHO on Wednesday, Liverpool are currently drawing up a list of potential midfield arrivals. They hold interest in Chelsea duo Connor Gallagher and Mason Mount, as well as Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister of Brighton & Hove Albion.

Mount is yet to agree a contract extension with Chelsea, the club he joined at the age of six, despite getting set to enter the final 12 months of his current deal. The Londoners are also reported to be under pressure to balance the books this summer after two transfer windows and nearly £600m of spending since a Todd Boehly-led consortium acquired the club in the summer of 2022.

The interest in Mount and Gallagher, although met with dismay by some fans, can be explained by the potential summer departures of Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Nat Phillips and Caoimhin Kelleher, who make up four of the Reds’ seven homegrown players in their 2022/23 Premier League squad.

Reports linking Liverpool with a move for Mac Allister have surfaced in recent days with The Times’ Paul Joyce claiming the World Cup winner is “high up” on the club’s list of targets.

With Trent Alexander-Arnold expected to continue in his inverted full-back role beyond the summer, the 24-year-old could be situated alongside Sporting CP midfielder Manuel Ugarte at the base of the Reds’ four-man, box midfield. As reported by the ECHO, the Uruguayan has been described as a “combat vehicle” by some sources. Too, he is reported to have a release clause of just €60 million.

Klopp’s recent switch to a three-man defence while in possession has seen Andy Robertson slot in alongside Ibrahima Konate and Virgil van Dijk as a makeshift centre-half when Alexander-Arnold drives into midfield. However, long-term, Liverpool have been linked with a move for Ajax and Holland defender Jurrien Timber, who has recently hinted about a future playing in one of Europe’s top-five leagues.

“A transfer is getting closer and closer, so to speak. There is a lot of concrete interest and I have made agreements with Ajax,” Timber told the Dutch outlet De Telegraaf. “Last year Ajax asked me to stay for at least one more season and to extend my contract. As a club boy, I did that with love and after the season we will review the situation.

“At the Dutch national team, I often talk to boys who play football abroad. I want to take that step someday. But when that is, you will eventually hear and it will happen in consultation with Ajax.”

While Robertson’s time is far from done at Anfield, with the defender having penned a new long-term contract less than two years ago, Timber could represent a long-term option to Klopp’s Anfield rebuild.

Liverpool potential XI for August 2023: Alisson; Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Alexander-Arnold, Ugarte; Mac Allister, Mount; Salah, Gakpo, Diaz. Subs: Kelleher, Nunez, Elliott, Henderson, Timber, Fabinho, Jones, Bajcetic, Jota.


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FPL notes: De Bruyne injury latest, why Ederson was benched + Salah on pens

There were two home wins to nil in the Wednesday night matches and plenty of returns for some of the most well-owned Fantasy Premier League (FPL) options from Manchester City and Liverpool.

But there were other key names who missed out on the FPL points at the Etihad and Anfield, with their absences among the main talking points in the Scout Notes below.

As ever, all the Opta player and team numbers you see in this article are taken from our Premium Members Area – and you can access them yourself for free with a seven-day free trial.

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Kevin De Bruyne (£12.2m) didn’t play a minute of Gameweek 35 after failing to recover from the “niggles” he picked up in last week’s win over Arsenal.

Pep Guardiola had declared “everyone except Nathan Ake (£5.0m)” fit in last Friday’s pre-match presser, the irony being that De Bruyne missed out on Wednesday’s 3-0 win over West Ham and Ake returned to deliver a 15-pointer after scoring City’s opener.

Guardiola didn’t provide any update on the Belgian after the game but had spoken to Sky Sports ahead of kick-off, saying he hoped his playmaker would be fit for the visit of Leeds United on Saturday.

“Feeling better. He’s not here, no.

“[Will he be back for the weekend?] I hope so, I hope so.” – Pep Guardiola on Kevin De Bruyne


Failing to cash in on the hosts’ clean sheet points was Ederson (£5.4m), whose benching made a mockery of assumptions – including our own – that he was the only rotation-proof path into the league leaders’ backline.

Guardiola confirmed that his goalkeeper’s demotion to the bench was not performance-related but merely a “rest” amid the hectic schedule.

“Rest a little bit. A lot of games, it’s not mentality, taking a rest is good. We have a lot of confidence in Stefan and try to have everybody involved.” – Pep Guardiola on Ederson’s benching

If we take the liberty to say that Dean Henderson (£4.6m) and Hugo Lloris (£5.4m) are number ones at their respective clubs when fit, Ederson is now in joint-16th among first-choice goalkeepers for points per match this season.

Stefan Ortega (£3.8m) deputised in the Brazilian’s stead and collected a bonus point, nudging out Jack Grealish (£7.2m) in the BPS standings in the final seconds of the game.

Grealish at least compensated with the assist for Erling Haaland’s (£12.3m) record-breaking 35th league goal of 2022/23, having earlier shot against the woodwork and teed up Haaland for a headed opportunity that Opta perhaps harshly judged as being a ‘big chance’. The Manchester Evening News made Grealish their man of the match after another strong showing; the worry for Gameweek 35 is not form but fatigue after he lasted 90 minutes here and with a Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid to come next Tuesday.

“Gundo played a lot of minutes, the last game Bernardo didn’t play, that’s why… the selection is, always we try to take the right one, but the guys who today didn’t start, could play perfectly.” – Pep Guardiola on Ilkay Gundogan’s benching

Phil Foden (£8.0m), a positional rival to both Grealish and Riyad Mahrez (£7.3m) on the opposite flank, came off the bench to volley in a deflected third against the Hammers.


Above: Players involved in Man City v West Ham sorted by penalty box touches

On tactics watch, noticeably further forward tonight was defender John Stones (£5.6m). We’ve been seeing the England international ‘inverting’ from right-back of late but he was visibly more involved in the West Ham area here, registering more penalty-box touches than even Haaland.

It’s a position we’ve recently seen Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.6m) operating in at Liverpool, the full-back-cum-midfielder registering three shots in just the first 10 minutes of Wednesday’s win over Fulham.


The Reds’ clash with the Cottagers always looked like it could be ripe for some rotation, falling as it did in the middle of a Sunday-Wednesday-Saturday schedule, and Andrew Robertson (£6.8m) and Cody Gakpo (£7.7m) were duly handed breathers.

Diogo Jota (£8.9m), unable to train properly in the last week, was benched for the second successive match, meanwhile.

Darwin Nunez (£8.6m) was duly promoted to the starting XI and won the penalty that Mohamed Salah (£13.0m) converted, although in general, he was again the least effective of the front three, with the fit-again Luis Diaz (£7.8m) lively in patches.

The attacking options Klopp has at his disposal was a topic raised in the Reds’ head coach’s post-match presser, with the German also mentioning in passing that Jota took another knock to his back.

“I thought [the front three] did well. We should not forget, you can see with Luis that after 30 minutes it’s really tough for him. It’s tough for everybody, we played a lot of games. We had a discussion with the coaches, who shall we rest? Is it Cody? Diogo couldn’t train again and I think in the first situation when he was on the pitch tonight, again a knock on the back. I hope that’s now better because he has a proper, proper bruise at the ribs, so it’s really painful. Anybody who had that before knows that. So, shall he start? Cody? How do we do it? That was the outcome this – this line-up.

“I thought [Luis] did for long spells really well. As I said, Darwin like a racehorse, really motivated, really on fire. That’s important to us and all of them, when Diogo and Coady came on, they were really in the defensive work. They were extremely involved and we had then a few sensational situations where the last pass didn’t go through. Curtis to Mo and stuff like this, where everything is nearly perfect and then the last pass on the foot it is only an inch but in the end it’s maybe half a metre. There we could have done better, but that’s fine. I liked what I saw.” – Jurgen Klopp

“Absolutely. I think for us it’s super-important. You could see in the beginning, defending the centre against Fulham is really important because Palhinha is there and that is their connector, get [him] on the ball. We were a bit too early out there from Darwin, we tried to fix that, but he wanted and he was like a racehorse – go, go, go, go for everybody. We opened up and that’s where we struggle slightly, where they could control it for moments. We could sort that and apart from that he played a really good game, he was always a proper option for us and we needed that.

“One of the main things we had to do tonight was offer in behind, we had three really quick players there and I liked the situation pretty early in the game when Mo received the ball deep, chipped it in behind and Darwin can go there. I don’t know exactly what was the result of that, but maybe a corner, which is good as well. So, yeah he played a good game.” – Jurgen Klopp on if he was happy with Darwin Nunez’s performance


Salah had a few nearly moments from open play, twice firing open from the right-hand side of the six-yard box, but he was once again indebted for his role as first-choice penalty-taker to send his FPL points tally north of 200 for the sixth successive season.

Klopp discussed Liverpool’s penalty-taking pecking order after the match, also implying that Alexander-Arnold was third in line for spot-kick duties.

“We had a conversation and he wanted to stay the penalty taker. We had a normal conversation about it. I said, ‘OK, yeah, you are.’ You don’t feel great in that moment, that’s what he said: I don’t feel right in that moment because the pressure obviously increases with the penalties you miss. Then Fab, or Trent, or whoever standing two and three, I give the ball to them, but that’s now he smashed the jigsaw, or whatever, the destiny again, and turned it around. This today was a super penalty I would say – that’s really clear.

“So, I think with all the goals Mo scored, we cannot just judge it with two missed [and] go away from it. That’s what I meant when I said we will talk about it. I know you understand when I said we’ll talk about it [that] I tell him, ‘You are off.’ But it was a conversation between two grown-up men.” – Jurgen Klopp


Any notion that Fulham would be ‘on the beach’ after mathematically ensuring Premier League survival and dropping out of European contention must be challenged now, with the Cottagers giving Liverpool a real test just days after they had done similar to Man City.

Alisson (£5.4m) was kept busy en route to maximum bonus points, with Bobby DeCordova-Reid (£5.4m) skying a late chance over. Manchester United beware on the final weekend, then, especially with Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.6m) nearing availability after suspension to provide the Cottagers with the attacking focal point they have been lacking.

West Ham were generally solid at the rear, too, a soft set-piece concession to Ake being the only joy that the hosts had at the Etihad in the first 70 minutes. Again, it’s Man Utd up next for Moyes’s troops.

The Hammers will hopefully be bolstered by the availability of three key names who missed out on Wednesday with illness, although Vladimir Coufal (£4.0m) is now a big doubt with a hamstring issue. That could be a big boon to Marcus Rashford (£7.2m) or whoever lines up for Manchester United on the left flank on Sunday, as the Czech international has been the stand-out performer at right-back this season.