Liverpool’s pre-season preparations are well under way with Jurgen Klopp taking a 34-man travelling party to Salzburg, Austria last week.
The club’s stars who played at the Euros and Copa America are still enjoying a well-earned rest but the remainder of the Reds squad are being put through their paces ahead of the new campaign next month.
Liverpool let midfield stalwart Georginio Wijnaldum depart for free this summer and they’ve been linked to the likes of Youri Tielemans, Renato Sanches, Saul Niguez, Florian Neuhaus and Yves Bissouma but there’s little sign of movement at the moment.
The Merseyside giants did do some early summer business, bringing in defender Ibrahima Konate for £36million. So, how will Klopp’s side line up next season as they look to wrestle back the Premier League crown?
Liverpool’s pre-season preparations are well under way with Jurgen Klopp’s (L) side in Austria
One of the first names on the team-sheet. The Brazilian shot-stopper has more than repaid the £65million the club paid for him in the summer of 2018 after helping them to Champions League and Premier League success.
The 28-year-old missed a handful of games due to injuries last season and there is a gaping hole when he’s not in between the sticks.
Adrian is a capable back-up and 22-year-old Caoimhin Kelleher showed glimpses of what he can bring last campaign while forgotten man Loris Karius has returned to the club following his loan spell but Alisson will not be usurped.
The Brazil international etched his name into Premier League history by scoring a last-minute winner against West Brom last season and he’s a fan favourite at Anfield.
Klopp will be hoping he avoids any fitness issues this time around.
Liverpool’s Alisson is one of the best goalkeepers in Premier League and a key player for Reds
The Liverpool right back came agonisingly close to being a part of Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the Euros but a thigh injury in a tournament warm-up tie ended his hopes.
The defender was ruled out for up to six weeks but is now in Austria gearing up for the new season alongside his Reds team-mates.
It’s easy to forget that Alexander-Arnold is still only 22 given his impressive performances and maturity in matches.
He suffered for form last season but was back on song during the run-in and played a pivotal role in Liverpool securing Champions League football. He provided nine assists and notched two goals in all competitions.
There are calls for him to be deployed as a central midfielder but it is his delivery out wide where he is most effective.
Neco Williams is waiting in the wings at Liverpool but Alexander-Arnold owns the right back spot.
Trent Alexander-Arnold has returned from a thigh injury which kept him out of the Euros
The 22-year-old is set to partner Virgil van Dijk in the centre of defence following his arrival from RB Leipzig this summer.
Even though Joe Gomez has returned to training following long-term injury the Frenchman is likely to be the first-team regular alongside the Holland international.
Klopp does like to give his new signings time to get up to speed as he did with Fabinho and Naby Keita.
But given Konate has had virtually all summer to get used to Klopp’s style of play and his team-mates he’s likely to be thrown straight in.
The defender assured Reds fans he is ‘big, strong and not scared of the ball’ when completing the switch from Germany and he could strike up a formidable relationship with Van Dijk.
Ibrahima Konate was signed by Liverpool earlier this summer for £36million to bolster defence
Virgil Van Dijk
Back in the fray after Jordan Pickford ended his 2020-21 campaign last October with a reckless challenge in the Merseyside derby.
Liverpool fans were elated to see Van Dijk back out on the training pitch towards the end of last season and the fact that he missed Holland’s Euro 2020 campaign was an added boost for the club.
Liverpool’s defensive injury crisis was horrific last campaign with Gomez and Matip also on the sidelines, leaving Fabinho and Jordan Henderson having to fill in before the Reds signed emergency cover in January.
Just like Alisson, the absence of Van Dijk had a huge impact on rest of the team. He’s colossal and helped transform a once leaky backline.
All those associated with Liverpool will be hoping that Van Dijk has fully recovered from his anterior cruciate ligament injury so that he can slot back in seamlessly and pick up where he left off.
Konate is set to form a central defensive partnership with Holland centre back Virgil van Dijk
There’s no question who’s lining up on the left-hand side of Liverpool’s defence.
Robertson has been one of Klopp’s best pieces of transfer business after paying just £8m for the Scotland international from Hull four years ago.
Both he and Alexander-Arnold are so key to Klopp’s gameplan as the pair bomb forward to join in attacks.
Like his opposite full back he was subdued at times last term as the Liverpool side as a whole struggled to maintain the high standards they set, but he still supplied seven assists and bagged one goal in 50 matches in all competitions.
The Reds brought in Konstantinos Tsimikas as cover for the flying wing back but he was used sparingly last season while midfielder James Milner can also fill in to allow Robertson to recover.
But there’s no doubt who will be playing at left back when fit and available.
There’s no question who’s lining up on the left side of Liverpool’s defence – Andy Robertson
The Spanish international arrived to the Premier League with plenty of hype after impressing at Barcelona and then Bayern Munich.
It’s fair to say that the 30-year-old took some time to adjust and adapt to life England with his Liverpool career yet to fully ignite.
He contracted coronavirus and then suffered a knee injury which kept him on the sidelines for some time.
But towards the latter half of the 2020-21 season he showed signs of what he can do and the midfielder oozes class.
With a pre-season under his belt once he returns from his summer break and a more settled midfield duo alongside him, bigger things will be expected.
Wijnaldum was reliable and industrious with his work often taken for granted. Thiago will have to fill the void but he has the arsenal to do just that.
Spanish international Thiago is set to play a more integral role following his debut campaign
One of Liverpool’s standout performers last season… at centre back.
The Brazilian midfielder performed admirably out of position for the majority of the Reds’ third-placed finish as his ability to read the game and snuff out the danger helped him to not look out of place in the heart of defence.
However Fabinho also suffered injury setbacks as Liverpool’s list of fitness issues mounted up last season.
He will be more influential back in his preferred position of central defensive midfield and although he did the job at centre half his screening in front of the back four was sorely missed last term.
Thiago and Jordan Henderson could also play in the deeper role but Fabinho makes more of an impact.
Brazilian Fabinho will slot back into his holding midfield role after defensive duties last term
The Liverpool captain was another whose 2020-21 campaign was hindered by injuries but if fit and available he should line up in the midfield three.
The 31-year-old, who has a contract until the summer of 2023, is the driving force of Klopp’s team and leads by example.
His willingness to give everything and his determination is infectious while his game under Klopp has developed no end.
Henderson can be just as effective operating in a more advanced midfield position as tracking back to carry out his defensive duties.
His impact on the Reds cannot be underestimated and he pips Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Keita and Curtis Jones to the role. Oxlade-Chamberlain and Keita are injury prone while Jones is still learning his trade.
However Sportsmail revealed on Monday that Henderson could be a surprise departure from the club this summer with no agreement reached on a new deal.
His future is in doubt and there is a real possibility he might leave. If he does depart, Klopp could be left scrambling around for a new midfielder with Tielemans, Sanches, Saul, Neuhaus and Bissouma all linked to Anfield. Although 20-year-old Jones could be called upon.
Letting Wijnaldum go could be costly while losing Henderson could be disastrous.
England midfielder Jordan Henderson is driving force of Klopp’s team and leads by example
Liverpool’s front three look set to run Premier League defences ragged once again with Salah lining up on the right-hand side of the feared attack.
Despite Liverpool’s well-documented struggles last season the Egyptian star still fired home 22 Premier League goals out of 31 he notched in all competitions.
Salah has skipped the Olympics and has been afforded the time to fully relax ahead of the new season, which Liverpool kick-off with a trip to Norwich.
The 29-year-old is underappreciated at times but his goal returns are phenomenal and after some down time this summer he’s set to come out all guns blazing.
Mohamed Salah is not playing at the Olympics and was able to rest following 2020-21 season
The false nine is the one out of the front three whose position is most under threat given his lack of goals.
Portugal star Diogo Jota put the pressure on last season before he was on the treatment table and all four of Klopp’s main forwards will play huge parts in the next campaign.
The Brazilian striker has never been a deadly finisher like a typical No 9 but his link-up play, work for the team and ability to execute Klopp’s ideas has made him a mainstay in recent years.
Before scoring twice against rivals Manchester United last season he had gone 15 games without a goal.
It’s likely Klopp will trust Firmino to lead the line but with Jota nipping at his heels this might just be the last season of Liverpool’s famous front three.
Roberto Firmino is the one out of the Reds front three whose position is most under threat
The Senegalese forward admitted the 2020-21 campaign was the ‘worst season’ of his career and revealed he underwent physical tests to try to find an explanation for a slump in form.
The 29-year-old failed to match the level he reached when Liverpool ended their 30-year wait for a league title.
Even so, Mane scored 11 goals and provided eight assists in 35 league matches, including a brace against Crystal Palace on the final day to ensure the Reds finished in the top four.
Mane has played an awful lot of football in recent times but he’s had the luxury to recover and rest this summer. He’s set to be raring to go.
Forward Sadio Mane admitted the 2020-21 campaign was the ‘worst season’ of his career
How Sportsmail sees Klopp’s Liverpool side lining up at start of the 2021-22 campaign