January hasn’t been a very good month for Liverpool in any sense of the word.
One win, out of the FA Cup, heaps of injuries and ninth in the Premier League is bleak at the best of times.
But when you factor in the Reds transfer window as well, it looks even bleaker.
Jurgen Klopp saw just one addition to his side in the shape of Cody Gakpo, who was signed before the window even opened. And while early comments seemed like more may happen, nothing else has materialised.
For some people this window has been a positive, for others, not so much.
Winner – Jordan Henderson
Few will come out of the transfer window happier than Henderson.
Liverpool’s biggest problem area currently is central midfield, with it being glaring obvious another body or two is needed.
Fabinho and Henderson has underperformed massively this season, and it is unfair to put the onus on young Harvey Elliott to take charge and control games in this position.
It seemed like Liverpool were ready to make a step into the market and solve this issue, with Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez heavily linked with them toward the end of the World Cup. However the Reds have probably been priced out of moves for both in recent weeks.
Jude Bellingham is clearly Liverpool’s summer priority, and is going to cost them a lot of money so a January move was off the table, and as such nobody has been brought in to fill this position.
Whilst still a reliable member of Liverpool’s engine room Henderson can’t dictate games anymore, whether that be as a ‘6’ or an ‘8’, and with Liverpool’s current crisis, someone able to take the sting out of the game and calm it down would be an invaluable asset.
Naby Keita has seen extended game time recently and for good reason. But it doesn’t take away from the fact Liverpool are in dire need of a signing or two in this position.
Henderson will have until the summer to prove that he is up to the task meaning he comes out of this January window a winner.
Winner – Liverpool’s summer transfer window
Liverpool’s summer transfer window will (probably) benefit from their lack of investment in January.
It’s no secret the Reds need to spend big, and there is no reason why they shouldn’t.
In FSG’s eyes any investments should only enhance the value of the club. None more so than a few superstar midfielders who not only ensure success on the field, but purely from a business standpoint, offer huge sell on value in the future.
If Liverpool end the season qualified for next seasons Champions League, then great, lets improve this squad and not let this situation happen again. If they don’t (and I really do not want to think about what happens if they don’t) then great, lets invest in the squad and make sure we are back where we belong as quickly as possible.
It’s not just midfield that needs improvement either.
As heroic as he was the back end of 2020/21, Nat Phillips clearly wants to play regular football and Liverpool could do with a slightly better emergency centre-back.
Phillips should be allowed to leave in the summer, and if anyone in the scouting department has any foresight, a cut price, experienced defender will be lined up to replace him.
The experience of other clubs throughout Europe should also make the summer more successful for Liverpool.
Barcelona are still in a financial mess, with many of their singings not paying off to the extent they thought they would. Juventus are in limbo after a 15 point deduction and Premier League rivals Chelsea’s training ground is going to look like the departure gate at an airport on the first day of pre-season training.
There is no guarantee that Liverpool will sign any players from these teams, but with top level European experience and the financial and technical pull of the Premier League on their side, there may be some surprise additions.
Loser – Cody Gakpo
This is by no means me suggesting Gakpo is a bad player, there have been flashes of what we know he is capable of, however he has arrived at the worst time that any Liverpool player has arrived under Klopp.
Many saw his signing as parallel to Luis Diaz last winter, but it couldn’t be more opposite.
Diaz arrived into a team full of confidence, playing some brilliant football with few injury worries and fighting on every front.
Gakpo has arrived at a time where confidence is through the floor and the Reds are having somewhat of an identity crisis.
There is almost no stability in the team, with players constantly dropping out whether that be through form or injury and Liverpool’s season could basically be over by early March.
The Dutchman has been forced to play out of position in a frontline that is receiving no service and is yet to score or assist in any competition.
It will come, and with Darwin Nunez fit, and Diogo Jota not far away, we should see Gakpo in a far more familiar position on the left more often.
Loser – Jurgen Klopp
Klopp is Liverpool’s most successful manager in recent memory by a long way, bringing European and domestic glory back to Anfield.
However, it could be argued he has somewhat been let down by people above him in recent years. Yes, the signing’s of Gakpo, Nunez, Diaz, Konate and Jota represent a significant outlay, but it’s not enough.
Liverpool were constantly challenging at the top of European football, reaching three Champions League finals in five years, they even played every game possible last season.
The squad was on the precipice of something unheard of but it wasn’t reflected in the incomings and outgoings.
Sadio Mane wanted to leave, granted, and Liverpool reinvested some of that money well in Nunez, but there should have been more.
Arthur Melo was brought in panic on deadline day after Henderson picked up an injury. It is hard to make judgement on him as he has been injured for the past four months, but it was slightly underwhelming at the time.
After this Klopp’s men have endured a really difficult start to the season, and he should have been backed significantly in January.
In the 2020/21 season, Klopp rescued Liverpool from a far more perilous situation given the Reds were eighth with 10 games to go and coming off the back of six home losses.
Correct, or smart, investment at the start of January would have allowed Klopp to steady the ship and perhaps see Liverpool within touching distance of the top four heading into February.
Instead, Klopp has been handed a squad in tatters, with players’ confidence all over the shop.
Whether he says it publicly or not, he will be feeling rather glum about the coming weeks and months.