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Why buy? How Liverpool will win the league without any summer action

COMMENT: You always buy from a position of strength. So the rule says. But as things stand today, does Jurgen Klopp actually need to act this summer? Is there anyone in the Premier League - including the champions - capable of matching his Liverpool next season?

Okay, okay it's early doors. There's still almost two months of the summer market left for Premier League clubs to work. But of all the contenders, including Manchester City, is anyone showing any type of threat to the European champions?

Chelsea have been knocked out by FIFA. Manchester United are still in their six-year transition. Arsenal have no money to spend. And Spurs? They're trying, but after 18 months of zero transfer activity, Daniel Levy appears to have lost his touch.

And then there's the champions. And we include City in those clubs scrambling to stay apace because of what they've already lost this summer. Make no mistake, City aren't champions without Anderlecht's new player-manager. That winner against Leicester City will go down in Sky Blues folklore. Indeed, it already has. But without Vincent Kompany's piledriver, it would've been a Double for Klopp's Reds. It was a screamer, struck by a captain whose character and personality is no easy thing to replace.

So much so that City have put that idea on the backburner. For the moment, it is midfield which has their focus. Negotiations for Rodri now in their final straight. The player having informed Atletico Madrid his wish to move on just this week. And making it all the smoother for City is his €70m buyout clause, so cutting Atleti out of all talks.

A good player. Potentially a great one. But one only to keep the team ticking over. Not to enhance it. Rodri will arrive to cover, before eventually succeeding, Fernandinho and his ageing legs. Essentially, for the moment, City are buying just to stand still.

In contrast, no-one would argue against this current Liverpool team not improving upon what we saw last season. Smashing that trophy drought - and with the biggest title of 'em all - will do wonders for the confidence and self-belief of Klopp's players.

On the road to Madrid, the manager described his team as "mentality giants". An awkward phrasing, but you get the gist. Klopp signifying how important last season's experience in Europe was for his young team. They now know what they're capable of. And more importantly, they also know at this stage in their careers, they're capable of much, much more.

Just consider Andrew Robertson's review of his past season. At 25, even as a Champions League winner, he knows his best years are ahead of him, "I've had a good season but I still have a lot of improvement to make and hopefully I can show that in the following seasons."

And who would bet against him? The new Scotland captain just one of a majority of the team who will only improve next season. Can you put a percentage on how much better Trent Alexander-Arnold will be this time next year? Virgil van Dijk? Sadio Mane? You can run right through the team and see the potential for more. What can we expect from Naby Keita after 12 months in England? What about Alisson? Does Fabinho have another gear?

All answers, for the moment, that would appear in the positive ledger. This promise of even better times ahead only made more apparent by the inaction of Liverpool's rivals.

Indeed, even the speculation around Dejan Lovren's future has presented a further example of where the Reds today stand.

While the talk of a move to AC Milan has been driven from Italy, with Zvonimir Boban's recent return to the Rossonero the obvious connection. There does seem some truth behind this, not the least the noise coming from Naples this week. The city's biggest newspaper, Il Mattino, declaring contact has been made between Liverpool intermediaries and representatives of Kalidou Koulibaly, Napoli's man-mountain centre-half.

If Liverpool are to do business with Boban about his fellow Croatian, then a move for Koulibaly would be no like-for-like addition. As good a player as Lovren is, the arrival of Sadio Mane's Senegal teammate would mean a step up. And as stubborn as Aurelio de Laurentiis, the Napoli president, can be in negotiations. Liverpool owner John W Henry has made it clear money is available for the right signing.

But this opportunity to buy from a position of strength will only be done if Lovren pushes to leave. For the moment, Klopp and this Liverpool team are still improving; moving forward. Even when they appear to be standing still.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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