aldo's view | 

Why Champions League glory may be Liverpool's best bet for success in 2022

If Man City can secure Haaland signing, Liverpool won't have the squad to match title rivals
Can Liverpool manager Jurgen Kopp take the Premier League trophy back from Manchester City and Pep Guardiola?

Can Liverpool manager Jurgen Kopp take the Premier League trophy back from Manchester City and Pep Guardiola?

John Aldridge

THE mood around Liverpool is buoyant this Christmas - but I fear Manchester City will burst their bubble in 2022.

The scenes at Anfield last Wednesday night after Caoimhín Kelleher saved the vital spot-kick against Leicester that sent Jurgen Klopp's men into the semi-finals of the EFL Cup were a delight to behold.

When I think back to this time last year and the empty stadium football we were being served up, the contrast to what we saw against Leicester was incredible.

I'm pretty sure Liverpool would be out of the competition now if it wasn't for the Anfield faithful pushing them over the line. And as the buzz around the stadium lingered long after the final whistle; it felt like 2022 was lining up to be a special year for the club.

Yet for me, the biggest news of the week was confirmation that Manchester City have sold Ferran Torres to Barcelona because they have clearly done that to make space for a big-name arrival.

City manager Pep Guardiola insists he is not planning to make a big signing in the January transfer window, but I wouldn't be surprised if he goes back on that comment.

They might struggle to get Erling Haaland (inset) out of Borussia Dortmund mid-way through the season and the same will be true if they return to Spurs for Harry Kane again,

Yet with the Torres deal bringing in a reported €55 million for City, they must be lining up a transfer that will blow the rest away at some stage in the new year.

City have their monopoly money from their billionaire backers to prop up any deal for Haaland or Kane and I suspect the first of those two will be on their radar now.

Haaland's dad used to play for City, so there is a family connection between the player and the club and his agent is the notorious Mino Raiola, who tends to take his players to wherever they get the most money.

Manchester City and Manchester United are up against Real Madrid in competition for Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland (Nick Potts/PA)

Manchester City and Manchester United are up against Real Madrid in competition for Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland (Nick Potts/PA)

That's almost certain to be at Manchester City and if you add Haaland to their already-incredible squad, Guardiola will have a team that will be close to being unbeatable.

There were reports a few days ago that Liverpool are in the mix to sign the Norway striker, but that is simply never going to happen.

Even though he has got a release clause in his Dortmund contract of around €75 million that can be activated next summer, Raiola's ridiculous fee and the wages Haaland will command will put him well out of Liverpool's reach.

That's why I stated in my Sunday World column earlier this month that Liverpool's big signing in the January transfer window should be confirming they have agreed a new contract with Mohamed Salah.

Liverpool would be looking to sign players like Haaland or Kylian Mbappe at Paris Saint-Germain if they needed to replace Salah next summer and that kind of deal would be well beyond the tight wage structure the club's owners enforce.

Sadly, money talks in the modern game and Manchester City, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain have sugar daddy owners capable of offering the riches 'normal' clubs can't afford.

It's an advantage City will always have over Liverpool and a reason why I believe Klopp is producing miracles to stay with them in the Premier League title race.

The postponement of today's game against Leeds due to Covid means City will move six points clear of Liverpool at the top of the table if they beat Leicester.

With a game in hand, Klopp's side are very much in the mix for the title, but City appear to have found a winning formula again now and I'd expect them to go on a relentless run of success over the next few months.

So it might be that Liverpool have a better chance of winning the Champions League than the Premier League this season, as so many things need to go in their favour if they are to beat City in the title race.

As we saw last season, Liverpool haven't got the strength in depth to deal with an injury crisis, so if Salah or Virgil van Dijk were ruled out for an extended period, that would be a problem.

The African Nations Cup will also affect Liverpool badly as Salah and Sadio Mane will be away playing for their country in a tournament that should never be allowed to take place mid-way through the domestic season in Europe.

Meanwhile, City have all the aces in their pack, with great squad depth and an aura that means a lot of teams are beaten before they even take them on.

Liverpool have some of that fear factor in their corner as well and I was amazed to see Leicester's approach to the EFL Cup game on Wednesday, as they did everything to break up the game against what was effectively Klopp's reserve team.

Brendan Rodgers had his players diving all over the place any time a Liverpool player went near them and in the end, they got what they deserved from their negativity - which was absolutely nothing.

Caoimhín Kelleher saved two penalties against Leicester

Caoimhín Kelleher saved two penalties against Leicester

Now Leicester have to face Liverpool's first team in the Premier League on Tuesday and if they were so terrified of Klopp's second and third string performers, they won't fancy the challenge of taking on their big-hitters.

That Leicester game is followed by a trip to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge for Liverpool and, while they are two tough away matches, nothing less than six points will do.

Manchester City are not going to drop points any time soon, so the chasing pack have a huge task on their hands to stay with them.

Liverpool might be the only team with a chance of doing that in the second half of the season.

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