Alexis Mac Allister won’t be the only new arrival at Liverpool this summer ahead of what is expected to be a busy transfer window at Anfield
Alexis Mac Allister has become Liverpool’s first signing of the summer after joining the Reds from Brighton & Hove Albion for an undisclosed fee. The start of a midfield rebuild, he certainly won’t be the last.
The deal for the World Cup winner is believed to be worth in the region of £45m, with conflicting reports continuing to place the fee between £35m and £55m. Regardless, the 24-year-old will cost Liverpool considerably less than the original suggestions of a £70m asking price.
The Argentina international is expected to be joined by another midfield signing, if not two, this summer. Meanwhile, Klopp has also clarified that the Reds will recruit at centre-back.
“We look in all departments except the goalkeeper at the moment,” the German said to reporters last month. “Yes, if there is a good one (centre-back) out there, I would not deny it. That’s all. We look at all areas of the pitch, definitely.”
As a result, this summer seems to be Liverpool’s busiest transfer window since they last missed out on Champions League football back in 2016. And it’s one they’ll have to finance without the riches that follow courtesy of competing in the continent’s leading tournament.
Such a stance has been obvious ever since the Reds withdrew from Jude Bellingham’s race back in April, with the England international now on the verge of joining Real Madrid in a deal worth up to £115m with add-ons.
“It’s not about Jude Bellingham my answer now – why do we constantly talk about things we theoretically can’t have?” Klopp asked reporters in April, following confirmation that Liverpool wouldn’t be moving for the Borussia Dortmund star. “We cannot have six players in the summer for £100m [each], for example, everyone would say that’s clear.
“You have to realise what you can do and then work with that. How much money do we have available and then work with that.
“We are not children. Ask a five-year-old what they want for Christmas and they say a Ferrari, you wouldn’t say that’s a good idea, it’s too expensive and you cannot drive it.
“It’s what can you do and then you do it, and work with that. It’s always how I’ve worked. Whatever we need and what we want, we try absolutely everything to get it. You have to accept that this or that is not possible for us. We’ll step aside and do different stuff.”
Rather than focus on one marquee arrival, Liverpool are having to stretch their funds across a number of quality signings. As Klopp said, the Reds are working with what they can do after deciding what they need. But, without endless finances, that also has to include outgoings.
“The way this club is led is by not splashing the money and having a look at if it works out or not,” Klopp said back in February. “Our transfers always have to be reasonable.
“So that makes it really tricky where we cannot make four transfers before we know who will leave the club.”
Of course, a number of Anfield exits are also expected. Roberto Firmino, Naby Keita, James Milner, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have all already been confirmed as departing at the end of their contracts this summer, while Arthur Melo has returned to Juventus following the end of his season-long loan.
But with question marks hanging over the futures of the likes of Caoimhin Kelleher, Nat Phillips, Kostas Tsimikas, Joel Matip, and Fabio Carvalho, more exits will follow. As a result, after signing Mac Allister, Liverpool bosses will continue to spin plates.
So with one summer signing finalized and five exits confirmed, how is the Reds squad currently looking heading into 2023/24?
Not possessing enough homegrown players, Liverpool were unable to name a full 25-man squad last season. And with Milner and Oxlade-Chamberlain exiting, that remains something to worry about.
Yet, as things stand, Liverpool actually currently possess 27 senior players that would need to be registered next season as a result of a number of youngsters no longer classifying as ‘Under-21s’ players. But while Curtis Jones, and perhaps to a lesser extent Rhys Williams, could be used to bolster such quotas, it would be a surprise if Leighton Clarkson, Jack Bearne, Paul Glatzel, or Vitezslav Jaros were selected next season.
If we’re feeling ruthless and remove the quartet and Williams, either permanently or on loan, it leaves Liverpool with 22 senior players. From such a total, six would be homegrown, though Phillips and Kelleher could also depart.
Admittedly, Klopp has insisted it would take an ‘extraordinary offer’ for the Reds to even consider cashing in on Kelleher this summer. As a result, if we take the German at face-value regarding the Irishman but assume Phillips will be sold, Liverpool would boast five homegrown players and need to sign a further three if they wished to name a full 25-man squad.
When it comes to players abroad, Mac Allister’s arrival would take the Reds’ quota to 16 out of the maximum total of 17 permitted. However, the out of contract Adrian, who Klopp revealed he expects to pen new terms, and Sepp van den Berg, who is expected to move on, are both included on such a list.
Exclude the Dutchman and Liverpool currently have room for two further overseas signings. Should Matip, Tsimikas, or even Adrian move on and that opens up more space for new arrivals.
While Liverpool’s Premier League squad is rather straightforward as a result, things are a little bit more complicated when it comes to European competition. This is because of UEFA rules regarding the need for club-trained players, with clubs not permitted more than four association-trained players within their eight ‘local’ nominees on List A, as well which Reds players under the age of 21 actually qualify to be registered on ‘List B’
If Kelleher or Williams stay put (or any of Clarkson, Bearne, Glatzel, and Jaros for that matter), then Liverpool boast the required four club-trained players, with Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Jones occupying the other three required places. But without that fourth qualifying player, the Reds will be limited to naming a maximum 24-man squad in next season’s Europa League.
Meanwhile, Klopp currently boasts three association-trained players in his squad courtesy of captain Jordan Henderson, Phillips, and Fabio Carvalho. Despite still being 20, the former Fulham youngster, who is expected to leave on loan this summer, is not eligible to be registered as an Under-21s player on ‘List B’ as he hasn’t completed two seasons at Anfield.
If we assume that both Phillips and Carvalho leave this summer, then Liverpool again have room for three homegrown signings. However, with clubs allowed more than four club-trained players, any of the aforementioned leftover Academy quintet could occupy such berths if still on the books.
While Mac Allister’s arrival leaves the Reds with 16 overseas players for Premier League action, such a total currently stands at 18 for Europe. This is because both Calvin Ramsay and Ben Doak, having only joined the club last summer, don’t qualify for a place on ‘List B’ despite being under the age of 21. As a result, expect them to be ineligible for Europa League action next season, depending on the rest of Liverpool’s summer business.
An expected Van den Berg departure again leaves the Reds with room for two new overseas signings, so both youngsters could be registered as things stand. However, such places are likely to have been filled by senior arrivals by the time the transfer window closes on September 1.
Again, if Matip or Tsimikas are sold, it leaves Liverpool free to include either youngster on top of future summer arrivals.
Of course, even if the Reds aren’t able to name a full 25-man squad after they complete their summer transfer business, they won’t be left short. The likes of Harvey Elliott, Stefan Bajcetic, Bobby Clark, Kaide Gordon, Tyler Morton, and Conor Bradley all qualify as Under-21s players and will be named on ‘List B’ for Europa League action if kept in Klopp’s first team squad.
But if we assume that the majority of Liverpool’s senior squad stay put, with Carvalho, Phillips, Williams, and Van den Berg the only departures along with younger fringe players, then the Reds have five places left to fill to name a maximum 25-man squad.
Having withdrawn interest in Bellingham, and set to miss out Mason Mount to Manchester United, it remains to be seen if Liverpool will pursue any further homegrown talents this summer.
If they do, they have enough leeway to strengthen accordingly in midfield, centre-back, and any other position they choose, with a maximum of five spaces (including three homegrown slots) currently free in their squad. But if they don’t, they will only have room for two more new arrivals after Mac Allister, over the age of 21, without additional senior exits.
If we take Klopp in the literalist of terms, he wasn’t wrong when he said that Liverpool “cannot make four transfers before we know who will leave the club.” And that’s before we even consider the darkest depths of the financial side for the Reds, after snapping up the World Cup winner for a cut-price fee that looks even more of a bargain when placed next to Bellingham and Mount.
Mac Allister is the first player through the door at Anfield this summer, but there is plenty more Liverpool plate-spinning that still needs to be done.