Considering Liverpool are known for being masters of the transfer market, and their success has largely hinged on getting things right in various windows across Jürgen Klopp’s tenure, their midfield plan is slightly strange.
Most people would accept that having eight midfielders on their books — plus arguably Fábio Carvalho if needed — is enough in theory, but the injury record of several of those options has been patchy, to say the least.
While Jude Bellingham might be the reason for them waiting another year to go big on a midfielder, there is a world in which they need to get more than just the Borussia Dortmund man in 2023.
Come next summer, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keïta are all, as things stand, out of contract. Two of those could be considered likely to be in their final season at Anfield, at least.
As a general rule, Liverpool have always moved ahead of the times with their recruitment. It is well known that players are often bedded in before being fully unleashed by Klopp, but that is not the only reason for long-term thinking.
When Thiago was signed from Bayern Munich, Liverpool knew that Gini Wijnaldum was going to move on for nothing the following summer. They signed Thiago a year in advance, though, despite paying £25m for someone they could have later got for free, so that he could settle in ahead of Wijnaldum going.
In January, Luis Díaz was brought to Liverpool at a time when the Reds knew that Sadio Mané intended to depart, giving the Colombian six months to acclimatise before being thrust into the left-wing slot on a full-time basis.
Harvey Elliott will, perhaps sooner rather than later, make himself a mainstay in the Liverpool midfield after a development period, while even Andy Robertson took his time before ousting Alberto Moreno in the team at left-back.
The point is simple: usually, as a rule, Liverpool have bought players a year ahead of them really being needed, giving them time to adapt in the overlapping period.
With three midfielders out of contract next summer and Curtis Jones facing a potentially defining year — not to mention Thiago and Jordan Henderson turning 32 and 33 respectively on their next birthdays — it seems strange that the only midfielder Liverpool have bought for a transfer fee in the last four years, since Keïta arrived from RB Leipzig, was Thiago in 2020.
Elliott might well be one solution that Klopp is hanging his hat on, understandably. Jones and Carvalho could both explode and then there are Stefan Bajčetić and Tyler Morton to consider.
But it seems certain that Liverpool will need to buy at least one midfielder next summer — and normally, they have taken the view that doing so in advance is sensible.
Admittedly, there is still the January transfer window, as was the period in which Díaz arrived, in which it could happen, but Liverpool’s previous transfer history suggests buying ahead of time is crucial.
The fact that they already look light in midfield right now is a concern, but it is also slightly out of sync with their usual bigger picture strategy.