We spoke to the Evening Standard’s Liverpool FC correspondent David Lynch on a number of different topics, ranging from the 2019/2020 season to the summer transfer window. We also opened up the interview our followers, and David has answered a selection of your questions below!
First of all David, I hope all is well and that you and your family are keeping safe and healthy in these unusual times. How have you been coping without football and specifically, without Liverpool?
I think the current situation has reminded us all of where football really sits in the grand scheme of things and yet you can’t help but miss it, can you? Sport doesn’t really matter at all but, as a few people have said before, it’s the most important of the non-important things for those who love it. Nobody should be ashamed to admit that they cannot wait for the day when football is back – I certainly can’t.
It probably makes sense to ask about the obvious – the 2019/2020 season, there’s been so many reports and pieces written by different journalists detailing what’s going to happen – whether it’s finished behind-closed-doors in the summer, whether next season gets delayed in order to finish this one, and obviously there are rumours of a complete null and void. What’s your take on it all and what can you realistically see happening?
I’ve seen a few people getting wound up about Karren Brady and Harry Kane’s contributions to these conversations in recent weeks but you’re always going to get people defending their own interests in times like this, no matter how unedifying that is. Of course, that is all they’re doing in suggesting that the season might be voided – there’s nothing more righteous about that solution than, say, handing Liverpool the title here and now.
In truth, though, the only morally justifiable course of action is to just hold onto these theories on how to finish the campaign (or not) until the curve starts to flatten and we move closer to a time where football might be able to resume. The Premier League is currently suspended. Anybody pushing for one scenario over another right now is simply making it obvious that they’re only looking out for themselves rather than trying to help.
The one thing I will say is that TV money outstrips every other income source – cancelling the remaining games completely and paying part of that back does not seem like a realistic option to me.
Can you see Liverpool [and other teams] being reluctant to spend big this summer given everything that is happening and has happened since the outbreak of coronavirus?
There’s no doubt that clubs’ spending power is going to be impacted by the economic consequences of the coronavirus outbreak. Even if the games are to be played behind closed doors, the loss of general admission, hospitality, food and merchandise revenue is going to be significant. You’d imagine that would have a big effect on the transfer market, though I wonder whether the fact that every club in every league is hit might actually balance it out.
For example, Borussia Dortmund have already insisted that Jadon Sancho’s £100m+ price tag won’t be affected by football’s shutdown, but if no club can now afford that and a slightly lesser sum will help them make up a coronavirus-inflicted financial shortfall, are they really in a position to take that stance? This could well be the moment that the transfer market bubble bursts and the figures involved become slightly more realistic – for a while, at least.
This Liverpool team has been the best team in the world this season. Strengthening won’t be the easiest of tasks, but how do you see Jurgen Klopp approaching the summer window in terms of positions he will be looking to strengthen?
At the moment, Liverpool are looking at adding cover at left-back, cover at centre-half (in the case of Dejan Lovren’s likely departure), and another option for the front three. I wouldn’t expect much more than that this summer.
Liverpool have been linked with a move for Brighton defender Ben White [currently on loan at Leeds] – is there anything in that one and could he be the perfect replacement for Dejan Lovren should he leave the club this summer?
I don’t have anything concrete on Liverpool’s interest in Ben White but he seems like the type of player they’d be looking at if Lovren does get his move away this summer. He’s a young but experienced, versatile, and probably someone who wouldn’t be banging down the manager’s door if he isn’t straight into the team after signing. If a centre-half does come to a club, I’d expect it to be someone of this sort of profile rather than a major name.
Can you see the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid sniffing around players such as Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino in the summer?
I’m sure those clubs would absolutely love to get their hands on one of Liverpool’s front three but I cannot see any of them leaving this summer. Whenever this season ends, Liverpool will have won the Champions League and then Premier League in consecutive campaigns and you’d back them to add more trophies in the years to come under Klopp.
Put simply: Why would anyone want to leave right now? Of course, even if they did, the fact that all three are locked down to long-term contracts means their likely transfer fee is enough to put off any potential suitor.
What do you make of Naby Keita’s situation at Liverpool and do you think Jurgen Klopp will continue to persevere in the midfielder?
One thing I don’t think gets discussed enough when it comes to Keita is the fact that Liverpool agreed to sign him in the summer of 2017 and, by the time he joined a year later, the system they used had evolved in an unexpected way. The arrival of Andy Robertson and the huge leaps taken by Trent Alexander-Arnold meant Klopp had effectively decided that risky, defence-splitting passes would be made almost exclusively by his full-backs, while the midfielders would be asked to simply lock down the centre of the pitch and provide a platform for that to happen.
That is not the job that a forward-thinking player like Keita probably thought he was coming in to do, though it hasn’t stopped him having some excellent games since signing for the club. Of course, if he is to continue to finding his niche in this collection of midfielders, then he will absolutely have to stay fit going forward. Klopp loves the player and he isn’t ready to give up on him just yet, but there’s no getting away from the fact that next season is absolutely massive for him, is there?
Quick-fire round, what happens to these players this summer in your opinion?
Adrian – May leave if an offer of first-team football comes in, though Liverpool aren’t actively looking to offload him.
Nathaniel Clyne – Will leave the club once fully fit.
Dejan Lovren – Should finally get his move away, possibly to Italy.
Xherdan Shaqiri – Liverpool would be happy to accept an offer around €30m. He will want more game time.
Adam Lallana – Expect him to leave on a free transfer to a Premier League rival.
Divock Origi – Is likely to decide that he wants to play more often. What a highlights reel he will leave with, though!!!
Liverpool have been linked with the likes of Todd Cantwell and James Maddison – but they also have extremely talented young players such as Curtis Jones and Neco Williams coming through – could they potentially save the Reds millions in the transfer window?
Klopp has huge faith in the crop of youngsters who train regularly at Melwood and I genuinely believe they are capable of playing a role next season. Williams should be considered Trent Alexander-Arnold’s direct back-up rather than James Milner, while Jones looks ready to take on Adam Lallana’s role in the squad – you could even make a case that Harvey Elliott could pick up the minutes Xherdan Shaqiri has failed to appear in due to injury this season, despite his tender years.
I know promoting from within isn’t as glamorous as going out and making signings, but if any of these hugely talented players saw their pathway blocked it would be very disappointing.
What do you think will happen with Harry Wilson, Marko Grujic, Rhian Brewster Ben Woodburn in the summer?
Both Harry Wilson and Marko Grujic are at the age where they need to get out and play regularly first-team football elsewhere. They haven’t quite made the jump to Liverpool’s standard but there’s no shame in that and both should attract pretty sizeable fees and get good moves this summer.
For Rhian Brewster, another loan move in the Premier League would probably be his best option, and that is something he’ll likely discuss with Klopp during the pre-season period. As for Ben Woodburn, he is still only 20 and has been beset by injuries this year – he needs a fresh loan move higher up the ladder next season to get back on track.
We opened up this interview to our followers to comment with their questions for you – and as I’m sure you can imagine, the most popular topic centres around Liverpool’s transfer business this summer! I’ll list a selection of follower questions below:
@gavindye88 asks: What’s the latest on Timo Werner and do you think it’s a deal Jurgen Klopp will look to get done this summer once he is able to?
The pause in football has seemed to put the brakes on this one but I still expect Liverpool to move for Timo Werner whenever there is more certainty over the season restarting/transfer market dates. The player is very, very keen to move to Anfield.
@o__m.16 asks: Is there any chance of Philippe Coutinho coming back this summer?
No. Liverpool no longer use a No.10 and so there simply isn’t a place for Coutinho in this squad. He was a great player for the Reds but there is no need to go back, particularly given the way he left.
@niv.lobl: When Jurgen Klopp eventually leaves Liverpool, who do you think his replacement could be assuming Steven Gerrard ISN’T in the mix?
Liverpool used analytics to identify Klopp as the ideal successor for Brendan Rodgers, and I’m sure they’ll have a shortlist of managers whose numbers they’re keeping an eye on in the same way. Julian Nagelsmann is surely one of them but, four years is a long time in football, so it’s impossible to say who may or may not be in the frame by the time the search for a new boss begins.
@marcus_vangeelen: Who do you think Liverpool will be looking to tie down to new contracts in the next 12 months?
Georginio Wijnaldum, definitely! There’s also a desire to reward both Alisson Becker and Virgil van Dijk with new deals.
@anfieldsquad: Do you see this being a big transfer window for Liverpool in terms of outgoings?
I think we’ve seen the benefits of continuity in recent seasons and so Klopp will be looking to keep the bulk of his squad together this summer.
@DarraghMcdonog5: Jadon Sancho and Kai Havertz have been strongly linked to Liverpool, are they both realistic options and if so, do you think it’s a case Klopp won’t move for them unless one of the front-three leaves?
I don’t think either player is a realistic option at the prices being touted. Jadon Sancho is perhaps someone they would look at were one of the front three to move on, but I just don’t expect that to be the case this summer. Timo Werner is much more likely.
@1UNbearableRED: You wrote last week that Jurgen Klopp was ‘desperate’ for Gini Wijnaldum to sign a new contract, do you think that’s one that will get done once everything has calmed down a bit?
I struggle to imagine Wijnaldum wanting to leave the club unless he is simply desperate to take on a new challenge in a different country. At the moment, I still expect him to eventually sign a new deal.
@Daniel1_5_: If the season were voided, would Liverpool look to sue the Premier League?
I think Liverpool’s part in this is massively overstated. Even if they were to void the league, there’s massive support from other clubs for the title to be handed to the runaway leaders regardless. Leeds and West Brom are the clubs who are most likely to pursue a legal challenge.
A big thank you to David for agreeing to the interview. You can follow him on Twitter here.