Yesterday evening, Carl Clemente caught up with Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher to find out what his thoughts were on how Jürgen Klopp’s side is shaping up, ahead of the forthcoming season.
Jamie, let’s start off, by telling me how happy you are with Liverpool’s business so far this summer?
“I hope I’ll be a lot happier come the 1st September when the transfer window closes. To be honest, I think we were all hoping that we would have been a lot happier at the stage. However, you’ve got to have patience. I’m sure the club are working 24/7 behind the scenes to bring players in, not only to keep the supporters happy, but also to obviously strengthen the squad for the big season ahead. I mentioned a lot last season that our squad isn’t strong enough. Despite the first eleven being very good, with Champions League football coming up the squad needs a few more additions and these numbers are yet to come in. Saying this though, I think Jürgen Klopp is looking to bring in quality rather than quantity, which is something that I’m personally happy with too”.
It’s been well documented that Liverpool’s two major targets this summer have been Naby Keita and Virgil Van Dijk. Is it now time to persue other options?
“To be honest, they are the two who have always been mentioned in the press. However, I’d be very surprised if the club, Klopp and his scout’s, don’t have other players in the line of fire. Every player you go for, you don’t always get and normally there is always a number two and a number three. Regarding Keita, I don’t think that Klopp will go out and buy another midfielder. Klopp obviously likes him and I think he would be willing to wait until next season, as supposedly Keita has a buyout clause – which I think Liverpool will be banking on! Therefore, I think in January, or in twelve months time Liverpool will have a lot more opportunities to sign him.”
“I reckon, the Van Dijk ‘saga’ will go right down to the wire. I don’t think Liverpool have ended all their interest in him at all. Nevertheless, if we go into the new season with what we’ve got now, I think there will be a lot of trepidation amongst the Liverpool fans.”
“As I said before, it’s paramount for Liverpool to strengthen their squad before going into the new season, especially with the Champions League on the horizon. Moreover, as we were the 4th best team in the Premier League last season, we will want to improve on that just like the other teams around us will. Although, in my view, it’s not just new signings that make a team improve. I think it’s about 50% and not all signings are successful. For example, if Man City make around six or seven signings, then three or four of them will work out. Other teams have been able to improve in specific positions, but so far it hasn’t been that straightforward for Klopp.”
Although, LFC are yet to strengthen the centre-back position, we have signed Andrew Robertson from Hull. A player some Liverpool fans wouldn’t know much about. From covering games for SKY, has he been a player who impressed you last season?
“I don’t think it was just last season when he has done well. For the last few seasons he’s done a really good job for Hull and for Scotland as well. It wouldn’t have been easy for him at Hull City, being at a club who are always fighting for relegation.”
“Nowadays, it’s not easy to find left-backs at the required level and I don’t know if Robertson is ready yet to play at the required level. However, the games I’ve seen him play for Hull, he has always shone and was one of their best players. However, there is a big jump from playing at one end of the league to playing at the top end of the league. I think, at first he will be used as backup for James Milner and Andy will be working hard over the next twelve month’s in order to eventually replace Milner and become Liverpool’s long term left-back.”
“There is no future for Alberto Moreno, so Klopp had to bring someone in and to be honest, LFC were never going to break the bank for a left-back or a squad player for that matter.”
Amongst the players LFC have been linked with so far this transfer window, none of them are strikers, which would suggest Jürgen Klopp is content with the forward players he’s already got….
“Yes, I think he is. Moreover, Klopp loves Roberto Firmino and I myself am a huge fan of his. It seems that Roberto is one of Klopp’s favourite players and is definitely his first choice striker.”
“Liverpool don’t have a stand out striker – as Man City have with Sergio Agüero and Tottenham have with Harry Kane and Chelsea did have with Diego Costa. However, this does allow Klopp to chop and change his front line around and sometimes will play Firmino out wide and bring in Daniel Sturridge through the centre. So, in a nutshell, I think Klopp has a lot of options going forward.”
“Furthermore, Daniel Sturridge came in towards the end of the season and did very well. It’s only ever about fitness for Daniel and never about quality. When he’s on the pitch he will always do well. His goals per game ratio for Liverpool proves that. There will be a lot of games next season, so let’s hope Daniel Sturridge can play as many as possible.”
One news story that isn’t going away is Barcelona’s interest in Philippe Coutinho. Do you expect him to be playing in a Liverpool shirt next season?
“Yes I do! Hopefully we can get twelve more months out of him. When he signed his five year deal, I didn’t think that he would see it out. There is no doubt that at one stage in his career Philippe will want to play for one of the Spanish giants, as many of the South American players do. Barcelona and Real Madrid are seen as the two biggest teams in world football who always have the best players. It’s always the dream of many players to play for one of them, so we can’t really complain about that.”
“It’s been said that Barcelona want to make a big money signing, not only because of the danger of losing Neymar, but also with Andres Iniesta coming to the end of his career, Barcelona see Coutinho as the ideal signing.”
“To be honest, I think that Liverpool fans should really enjoy him over the next twelve months, as if a big money offer does come in at the end of next season and if the player wants to play for Barcelona, then there is not really much LFC can do. Like I said, let’s just hope we see him in a Liverpool shirt next season, which I think we will, and then let’s see where things go from there.”
Nowadays, a lot of fans use social media as their principal news source for transfer information and developments. Do you do that yourself? And when you were playing, would you always be curious if any new arrivals are imminent?
“I don’t think I go on social media to look specifically for that, but I do think Twitter is the best tool for football information as all the stories will always pop up there first. As a player, you would usually just know which players the club were interested in bringing in, and during the summer you would just hope that they didn’t sign anyone who plays in your position! However, the players are like the fans, you always want the best players to join the club you are at, because then you have more chances of winning things and being more successful.”
We’ve seen a lot of these team bonding activities recently – the other day we saw the players swimming in a lake. Was that something you enjoyed as a player?
“Yeah, absolutely! They were a welcomed break from all the intensive pre-season training. It’s good to socialise with your teammates and have a laugh and a joke. We used to do similar things. I remember in Switzerland the coaches would take us rock-climbing, abseiling and kayaking, which I really enjoyed. Also, we would have time to go off and play golf which the other players always looked forward to.”
And Finally Jamie, could you give us an update on your own professional career. You obviously seem happy working for SKY and doing Monday Night Football – which in my view is the best football programme on TV. Nevertheless, is there any chance we could see you back in the game in a coaching capacity?
“Well certainly my short-term future will be working with the media. I’ve got a two year contract left at SKY and things are going well! Nevertheless, I don’t want to rule anything out just yet and if an opportunity came up then, who knows? However, the longer it goes without working directly in the game, then the less likely I would go into coaching. Therefore, if this was the case, my long-term future would be with the media as well.”