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kop on Why freshening up the Liverpool squad and tying down best players is crucial for Klopp

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (right) speaks to Takumi Minamino

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (right) speaks to Takumi Minamino

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (right) speaks to Takumi Minamino

THE warning signs are flashing brightly for Liverpool right now and if they want to see what could happen two years down the road, look at how the Alex Ferguson era ended at Manchester United.

It was back in 2013 that Ferguson signed off at Old Trafford with a final Premier League title win, yet what followed was a decline that is still ongoing to this day.

An elite manager is capable of producing success others can only dream about and that has been highlighted by the succession of failures who have followed Ferguson in and out of the Old Trafford hot-seat.

How is United’s story comparable to that of Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp?

Well, the German has produced miracles Ferguson would have been proud of during his time in charge of Liverpool, but his reign will not last forever.

Klopp has confirmed he will walk away from the club when his current contract expires in the summer of 2024, with that doomsday now looming large.

It might seem a long way off, but that is only two full seasons away and if you look at the current Liverpool squad and the average age of players in key positions, there’s no doubt it needs a shake-up.

This is not breaking news as I have been saying on the pages of the Sunday World for the last couple of years that Liverpool need fresh blood in their squad, but it hasn’t happened.

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Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk celebrates scoring his side's fourth goal against Southampton

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk celebrates scoring his side's fourth goal against Southampton

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk celebrates scoring his side's fourth goal against Southampton

First choice central defenders Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip are both 30, captain Jordan Henderson is 31 and James Milner is still an important squad player at the age of 36.

Lead striker Roberto Firmino is also in the 30-plus ranks, with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah both hitting that milestone birthday later this year.

That’s the heartbeat of the Liverpool team right there and they are all getting older together.

Then you add in the lack of strength in depth in the squad, with memories of the injury crisis that derailed last season flooding back, as I watched the EFL Cup semi-final against Arsenal.

It wasn’t just the injuries to Van Dijk, Matip and Joe Gomez that ruined Liverpool’s Premier League title defence this time last year, the lack of goals at the other end were also a problem.

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Now we are getting a reminder of those dark days, with Salah and Mane playing in the African Cup of Nations and Liverpool looking horribly short of goals.

So heading into today’s game against Brentford at Anfield, I would have concerns that the visitors have enough about them to pick up the points.

Brentford gave Liverpool plenty of problems at their place back in September and will take confidence from that 3-3 draw, even though Klopp’s side missed enough chances to win comfortably.

Yet this is not just about beating Brentford today or even getting through the second leg of the League Cup tie at Arsenal on Thursday, as I see a bigger problem rapidly galloping over the horizon.

Imagine a more than likely scenario that sees Liverpool’s owners continue along their path of keeping finances tight and not taking too many risks in the transfer market over the next couple of years.

If that were to happen, whoever takes over from Klopp would inherit a squad on its last legs and he would be faced with a massive rebuilding job.

As was the case with Ferguson, the manager leading Liverpool has what it takes to produce miracles and cover up the lack of transfer spending from the club’s owners, but the next Liverpool boss might not have that magic touch.

So this is why I’m sending out a message that things need to start evolving in the Liverpool dressing room and it needs to start happening right now.

Salah’s absence against Arsenal reminded everyone how important he is for Liverpool and getting his long-running contract dispute sorted has to be a priority right now for the club.

Then they need to look to the future and start investing in new talent because we can all see that this magnificent squad of players will reach its sell-by date in unison unless something is done to stop that problem.

I have been saying for a couple of years that Liverpool should sign a proven central striker and while Firmino has done a great job for the club, putting in a player who would score 20-goals a season consistently would add so much to the team.

They also need to look at freshening up the midfield that relies on experienced performers to make it tick and all this cannot be done overnight.

Squad rebuilds need to be carried out over two or three transfer windows, yet Ibrahima Konaté was Liverpool’s only signing last summer and I don’t expect them to do much business in this month’s transfer window.

That means big investment will be needed next summer to ensure this team does not go stale, but there is a danger that the current owners won’t share my view and will hold back on big-spending until they see it as absolutely necessary.

If they wait until Klopp’s final year at the helm, players may be reluctant to come to Liverpool as they won’t know who will be taking over and all the momentum built up under the great man in charge of the team right now will be lost.

The most successful teams always build from a position of strength and Liverpool have to make sure they don’t wait took long before appreciating the time to panic has passed.



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