The Champions League final meant that an uplifting season ended on a downbeat for Liverpool. The 1-0 defeat by Real Madrid – combined with events outside the Stade de France – cast a shadow over a truly remarkable campaign.
Yet, by the time Jurgen Klopp and his team got off the open-top bus after their homecoming parade on Sunday, optimism was sky high again. They know how to win – the two domestic cups prove that – and it was no shame being edged out for the title by Manchester City on the last day of the Premier League.
Klopp’s squad performed impressively. The group will largely remain intact for the coming season but Julian Ward, who will be leading the transfer strategy after the departure of sporting director Michael Edwards, will need to replace Sadio Mane.
The forward line is well stocked with Mohamed Salah, Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino but bringing in another body up front is a priority. Salah and Firmino are both coming into the final year of their contracts and will be over 30 when the new campaign begins. The biggest questions for Liverpool revolve around the attacking players.
The midfield could do with a battle-hardened recruit to bolster that department. Naby Keita showed signs of rising to the challenge in 2022 but his four years at the club have been a little disappointing. Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho should anchor the middle going forward but increasing the competition for the third midfielder is high on the agenda.
The defence is the area that needs least work. Joel Matip stepped up hugely last season and the emergence of Ibrahima Konate in the last couple of months gives Klopp options at centre half. He will now be able to consider resting Virgil van Dijk without causing himself and the supporters palpitations. Kostas Tsimikas is an able deputy for Andrew Robertson and Joe Gomez showed his adaptability when covering for Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Liverpool 2021/22 season ratings
This is not a squad that needs a drastic overhaul. A striker plus a few nips and tucks will keep the levels up and Liverpool will expect to challenge on all four fronts next campaign.
The biggest signing of the year was Klopp extending his contract until 2026. Anfield has lots of attractive attributes for players, the atmosphere and the chance to compete for trophies among them. The biggest draw is the German manager. He was at the top of his game, exuding energy and intelligence and giving his players the opportunity to perform to the best of their ability.
The 54-year-old German wants to win the Premier League title again. He wants to go back to the Champions League final. Next year, the continent’s showpiece game is in Istanbul. Liverpool fans know miracles happen in the Ataturk Stadium. It will not take a miracle for Klopp and his team to return to the biggest match in European football.