Reds may yet make Champions League but boss Jurgen Klopp will want to strengthen again for next season
AFTER A flying start which saw them win eight of their first 11 to reach the Premier League summit it has been a season of disappointment for Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are third but Manchester City, directly below them, have two games in hand on the Reds.
A return to the Champions League would signal improvement for the Merseysiders but Klopp, who reached the final with Borussia Dortmund in 2013.
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But further strength in depth will be needed to compete on another front.
With that in mind, Football Whispers assesses the three top Liverpool transfer rumours according to their index and look at how they would fit in at Anfield.
Michael Keane (Burnley)
Rating: 3.1 Cost: £30m
How Manchester United must regret allowing Louis van Gaal to sell Michael Keane to Burnley in 2015. The undisclosed fee the Clarets paid to turn his loan spell into a permanent switch has proved a bargain.
Keane’s form for Sean Dyce’s side has seen him win international recognition and he was handed his England debut against Germany in March.
Burnley look set to stay in the Premier League this season. But Keane’s future will lie away from Turf Moor regardless.
Liverpool are the frontrunners to sign Keane, with Everton, Spurs and Manchester United also in the mix for the former Red Devils defender.
Liverpool have had defensive problems again this season. The summer signing of Joel Matip from Schalke has gone some way to tightening up their leaky backline but they have still shipped 42 goals.
Keane makes 1.8 interceptions, 7.2 clearances and 1.3 blocks per game – statistics which put him ahead of any Reds defender this season.
If he were to move to Anfield then Dejan Lovren would be the man to make way and Keane would slot in seamlessly next to Matip.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal)
Rating: 2.9 Cost: £20m
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has made more Premier League appearances for Arsenal this season (26) than in any of the previous five campaigns with the North Londoners.
Yet there is a feeling that the England international has been left unfulfilled at the Emirates Stadium this season. Arsene Wenger has moved the 23-year-old into numerous roles including, bizarrely, right wing-back.
The former Southampton prodigy has only started 13 Premier League fixtures this season but the most he has made for Arsenal in a single season was 17 during the 2014/15 campaign.
He has, however, impressed in the centre of midfield for the Gunners this term, contributing five assists and making 1.1 key passes per game, as well as completing 2.3 dribbles.
And if he were to move to Anfield he could play in the centre of midfield or as a number ten playing off Roberto Firmino.
The latter would make more sense given the Reds’ midfield is already lacking defensive-minded players and the addition of Oxlade-Chamberlain would hardly solve that issue.
However, that is dependent on Sadio Mane or Philippe Coutinho being left out or sold first.
Virgil van Dijk (Southampton)
Rating: 2.3 Cost: £50m
Another impeccable season at Southampton means Virgil van Dijk is set to leave St Mary’s this summer with Liverpool already understood to be in talks.
The Manchester City and Chelsea transfer target has established himself as one of the Premier League’s best centre-backs since moving from Celtic in 2015 and looks set to become the latest player to trade St Mary’s for Anfield.
This season van Dijk has made 1.9 tackles, 2.6 interceptions, 6.8 clearances and 0.7 blocks per game for the Saints. Those statistics put him ahead of Liverpool’s defenders in every measure except tackles.
A full Netherlands international, van Dijk will command a hefty fee. But if Liverpool are intent on shoring up a defence which has given goalkeepers Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius minimal protection then it’s a price they will have to pay.
The Reds won’t fund deals for van Dijk and Keane so whichever player does arrive on Merseyside will take the place of the under-fire Lovren.