Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will be under pressure from some supporters to move in the transfer market this month.
If the teamsheet created questions, the post-game update sent the most tense Liverpool supporters into a full-blown tantrum.
In their final preseason friendly at Anfield, an inexperienced Reds team had just been defeated 3-0 by Strasbourg when Jurgen Klopp addressed the unexpected absences of both Naby Keita and Curtis Jones.
The Liverpool manager, who was already missing the injured five of Alisson Becker, Caoimhin Kelleher, Kostas Tsimikas, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Diogo Jota, said, “Naby is ill and Curtis felt a little bit and couldn’t take any risks.”
That was enough to send social media into a frenzy over the Reds’ insistence that they will not sign a new midfielder during the summer transfer window.
While Keita will be available for Saturday’s Premier League opener against promoted Fulham, Jones’ situation is more complicated.
The 21-year-old is currently wearing a protective boot, as is customary at Liverpool as a precaution, and while the injury is not thought to be serious, it must be properly assessed. After a previous season marred by lengthy absences, even a brief absence would be a setback for Jones.
With Klopp revealing last week that Oxlade-Chamberlain suffered a “serious” hamstring complaint earlier in pre-season that will likely keep him out for the majority of the pre-World Cup portion of the season, the Reds will be missing at least two of their eight senior midfielders at Craven Cottage.
Despite this, Liverpool were confident enough in their options to let 19-year-old Tyler Morton, who made his first-team debut last season, join Championship side Blackburn Rovers on loan for the season this week.
The possibility of switching to a 4-2-3-1 formation during the season, especially once Darwin Nunez is settled, would create a number 10 role ideal for Roberto Firmino or summer signing Fabio Carvalho, relieving pressure on the midfield. There would only be two deeper-lying roles required.
And, of course, Klopp has been consistent in his belief that he is pleased with his engine room personnel, which includes Fabinho and Jordan Henderson’s defensive capabilities, Thiago Alcantara’s passing game, James Milner’s experience, the thrust of Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain, and the youth of Jones, Carvalho, and Harvey Elliott.
Leaving a path open for the young trio to play is important for Klopp, who stated at the end of last season that this is a period of “transition” for Liverpool.
“You have to leave the doors open for the boys,” said the Reds boss. “I really don’t understand the discussion about the midfielders
“If nobody wants to leave – and no player came to me with that request yet and I don’t expect it really, to be honest – there is no need for a new midfielder. But if the situation stays like it is, then tell me why we should sign someone?”
Only Klopp knows whether Oxlade-long-term Chamberlain’s injury – and the results of the assessment of Jones’ setback – are significant enough to have changed the situation in the final four weeks of the transfer window.
As things currently stand, Liverpool fans hoping for a new midfielder will have to wait.