Liverpool’s new signings have shown lots in their pre-season performances but what have we learnt from them so far?
Jurgen Klopp may not have been as busy as some Liverpool fans had hoped this summer, but he’s made a few shrewd signings which could help the Reds go up another level during the 2016-17 season. Liverpool have splashed out on some new signings, including a huge £30m fee for Sadio Mane and he joins Marko Grujic, Loris Karius, and Joel Matip who have also made moves to Merseyside. The club waved farewell to a number of former first team members including Skrtel, Toure and Ibe to make room in the squad for the incomers who fans are hoping will deliver under the German boss. All four of Liverpool’s new boys have featured for at least 45 minutes in their pre-season tour of the North West, including clashes against Tranmere Rovers, Fleetwood Town and Wigan Athletic.
We’ve assessed their performances and here are five things we’ve learnt from them so far…
Liverpool’s £30 million man, Sadio Mane, has bags of pace and he’s used it to good effect so far in his early performances in a red shirt. The former Southampton forward scored 11 league goals last season, including a hat-trick against Manchester City and it’s no wonder given his obvious threat. Mane’s performance against Tranmere Rovers particularly highlighted his eagerness to take on players and beat them for pace, often proving successful. He gives the Reds an outlet on the counter attack as well as providing the perfect runs in behind the defence which Coutinho will be looking to find with a measured pass.
There were also signs of pace from Grujic who looked to push forward from midfield often and produced a box-to-box performance against Fleetwood Town. His goal came from a darting run into the box and he left his opponents behind with a powerful run through the middle. He’s not got blistering pace, but enough to drive forward with the ball and he showed glimpses of what Liverpool have missed in recent seasons. The tall figure of Matip in the centre of Liverpool’s defence has become a regular sight during the pre-season campaign so far. He looks quick enough to mop up at the back too and alongside Lovren, the pair have been pretty solid so far, though they’ve yet to be really tested.
Mane and Grujic have beamed confidence in particular. The box-to-box midfielder has only played 45 minutes so far, with illness preventing him from performing at the DW Stadium on Sunday. However, he made a quick impression; scoring on his first appearance and hitting the post in the same game. He wasn’t afraid to take the ball forward, drive at defenders and commit himself with attacking runs from midfield. Alongside Emre Can, Grujic looks set to be a great addition to the Liverpool midfield.
Mane demonstrated his ability to beat players and his wing-play in an attacking three formation has looked effective so far. He’s shown confidence in his play; not being afraid to take on players and drive towards the back-line. He’s always looking for an opportunity to shoot too and it doesn’t seem like it’ll be long before he scores his first goal.
The new signings haven’t been perfect and nor should they be expected to be. Its early days and they’ve still got lots of work to do under Klopp before the new season starts. Karius had a nervy start in his game against Wigan Athletic when he mis-controlled a simple pass-back from Matip and almost let a goal in. However, he was quick to react and dived bravely at the feet of the oncoming Wigan forward to make up for his mistake. The mistake was described as a ‘Mignolet moment’ and the new goalkeeper joked on Twitter that he would ‘try to make it less exciting next time.’ As long as his mistakes aren’t as regular as Mignolet’s, he’s set to do challenge for the number 1 jersey.
Mane demonstrated his goal-scoring abilities last season for Southampton but he’s shown he can create a number of opportunities during his first three pre-season games. The forward has got into a number of strong positions and could’ve bagged himself a goal in the opening match against Tranmere Rovers when he found himself one-on-one with the keeper. His touch may not have been there on that occasion but if he continues to create chances, he’ll score goals and he proved that last season for Southampton.
Grujic hasn’t taken long to settle into life at Liverpool and he scored on his first appearance to put Liverpool ahead in their clash with Fleetwood Town. He hit the post later on too and his darting runs from midfield saw him collect the ball in a number of dangerous positions. The box-to-box midfielder looks like an exciting addition to the squad and he could produce more opportunities to score as the season goes on.
The height of Matip gives him an advantage in the air and the centre-back will be an obvious target from set pieces for Liverpool. He’s yet to really put his attacking ability to the test, although he found space in the Red’s clash against Wigan Athletic but his header went over the bar. There could be more to come from him though and he could add a few goals from the centre-back position.
The three outfield players have already shown their ability to adapt to a different roles and are versatile within Klopp’s formation. Mane started on the right against Tranmere Rovers, to great effect, but was equally as successful against Wigan Athletic on the left side of the attack. The pacy forward can switch between the wings, and can play effectively through the centre as he often runs off the shoulder of the last defender. He’ll give Klopp a number of options in attack.
Grujic’s ability to adapt to any position in midfield will be a valuable asset to Liverpool this season. Grujic started in centre-mid against Fleetwood Town but was happy to push forward into a more attacking role as well as dropping deep to defend. He acted like a real box-to-box midfielder but stayed positioning was still good. He showed restraint and only darted forward during the right moments. Grujic looks like the kind of player who will be composed in any midfield role.
Matip and Lovren have started together at the back in all three of Liverpool’s pre-season games but the centre-back worked just as well alongside Tiago Ilori in Sunday’s fixture against Wigan when Lovren was substituted at half-time. It’ll be interesting to see how the centre-back lines up next to Mamadou Sakho when the Frenchman returns but hopefully Matip will slot in nicely in the centre-back role.