Accueil Sports 5 questions Liverpool still need to resolve as they prepare to kick...

5 questions Liverpool still need to resolve as they prepare to kick off new season

The wait is almost over. The Premier League returns at the weekend and champions Liverpool begin their title defence on Saturday evening with the visit of newly-promoted Leeds United.

The Reds were imperious last season, winning 32 games and losing just three as they processed to an 18-point margin of victory.

But Liverpool’s intensity on the pitch has not been matched in the transfer window and just one player – £11.75million left-back Kostas Tsimikas – has been added to the ranks.

Klopp appears to be placing trust in his established team of champions and, on the eve of the new campaign, put the players through their paces at the club’s Melwood base.

But while Liverpool’s preparations for their opening-day clash are almost complete, Klopp is still faced with a number of questions…

1. Brewster’s future

Brewster is linked with a return to Swansea
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At the top of Klopp’s agenda is deciding whether Rhian Brewster will stay as a backup to No9 Roberto Firmino or leave Anfield – be that on loan or permanently.

Several Premier League clubs have enquired about the 20-year-old striker but another loan spell with Swansea has emerged as the most likely option should he depart.

Brewster has age on his side and his pre-season performances have shown he has the drive to live up to his potential. But with just four senior Liverpool appearances to his name, questions remain over his ability to deputise for Firmino.

Klopp’s go-to striker from the bench in recent years has been Divock Origi, who has made a name for himself by popping up with all-important goals when his team needs him most.

Klopp must decide if he is willing to trust Brewster to change games in a similar manner to the Belgian.

2. Midfield mixes

Perhaps the most pressing question that faces Klopp each gameweek: ‘Which three players to start in midfield?’

The German is blessed with quality and depth but is yet to settle on a first-choice trio in the centre of the park.

Fabinho has looked every bit a world-class defensive midfielder at times, but struggled to match his best form after suffering a serious ankle injury late last year.

That allowed captain Jordan Henderson to drop back to the No6 berth, where he excelled before succumbing to an injury of his own.

In the more advanced roles, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain offer flair and directness, while Georginio Wijnaldum and James Milner are tireless box-to-box men.

Last season, we frequently saw Henderson, Fabinho and Wijnaldum line up together – but Liverpool lacked creativity with this setup, as shown in the 1-1 draw with Manchester United in October.

Klopp is careful not to throw caution to the wind by starting a trio of attacking-minded midfielders, however, as he knows his defence heavily relies on players dropping in to cover for marauding full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.

With the emergence of Curtis Jones, competition in midfield is at an all-time high, and Klopp is sure to be scratching his head over his midfield threes next season.

3. Virgil’s partner

Who should partner Van Dijk in defence? Have your say here.

Van Dijk has been partnered by both Gomez and Matip
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Another team selection conundrum facing Klopp is whether to start Joe Gomez or Joel Matip alongside Virgil van Dijk in central defence.

There is no doubt England defender Gomez has been the preferred pick in recent months and the 23-year-old started the Community Shield against Arsenal at the end of August.

Gomez also made 28 Premier League appearances last season compared to Matip’s nine, though the latter’s season was plagued by injuries.

With both options fit, it remains to be seen whether Gomez will hold on to his starting role or give way to the man who kept a clean sheet and provided an assist in the Champions League final last year.

Gomez and Matip have both been prone to injuries and Klopp may even choose to rotate who starts next to Van Dijk in the knowledge there is no senior fourth-choice option following the departure of Dejan Lovren this summer.

4. Elliott’s role

Elliott is set for more first-team minutes
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At the tender age of 17, Harvey Elliott boasts UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup winners’ medals.

The winger is tipped for stardom and is sure to add to his two Premier League appearances next season.

His game time with the senior team has been largely limited to cup competitions when big-hitters Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are rested – but that may be about to change.

Liverpool’s options in wide areas are limited, with injury-struck Xherdan Shaqiri linked with an Anfield exit and seldom few natural wide men in the squad.

At times, Divock Origi is sent to the left flank or Oxlande-Chamberlain rolls back the years to play as a winger, but it feels as though Klopp is trying to fit square pegs in round holes on these occasions.

As such, it may not be long before we see Elliott given an increasingly important role as a backup to Salah and Mane during a congested season.

5. Wijnaldum talks

Wijnaldum is in talks over an extension
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Few Liverpool players have been such good servants to the club as Georginio Wijnaldum since the Dutchman joined four years ago.

The midfielder has made over 180 appearances in that time, including 46 last season, and has been a mainstay at the centre of the park.

But with less than one year remaining on his contract and Barcelona circling, Wijnaldum’s future hangs in the balance.

Klopp is in the middle of talks with the 29-year-old and their outcome may have huge ramifications for the club.

Should Wijnaldum pen a new deal, Liverpool’s hugely successful spine from the past two seasons will remain entirely intact as they begin their title defence.

But if negotiations collapse, Klopp may choose to offload the player, with claims Wijnaludm’s departure could be the catalyst for the signing of Bayern Munich star Thiago Alcantara.

Regardless of the outcome of the talks, Wijnaldum’s prodigious Anfield legacy is secure.

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