There may be a top four spot and a Champions League left to play for, but Liverpool’s focus now is on the future.
Sunday’s defeat to Fulham served as the latest reminder that defending titles is no easy business, and Jurgen Klopp and his team must now ensure that this season’s wretched hangover is put to bed once the curtain falls on 2020/21.
The German has repeatedly insisted that there is no need for a ‘rebuild’, and while that may be a somewhat melodramatic label, there is no getting away from the fact that some renovations are needed at Anfield.
Diogo Jota and Thiago Alcantara look set to play a big part in the future of the side, and the returns of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez will ease the need for over-the-top spending. But there is still work to be done on a Liverpool squad that is thin in some areas, bloated in others, and dotted with players who aren’t justifying their substantial wage packets.
Let’s take a look at a few of those who could be heading for pastures new when Klopp presses the refresh button.
Potential fee: £15-20m
Potential destinations: Borussia Dortmund, Leeds, Lille, Wolves
It’s heartbreaking to say it, but we’re surely approaching game over time with Origi, aren’t we?
He’s shown loyalty to Liverpool and provided the club with some of the best moments in their recent history, but the fact that Klopp has been so reluctant to use him despite their desperate recent form underlines that he is no longer trusted as a genuine attacking option.
Origi has made just ten appearances this season, and with Jota back in the picture, he is only going to be pushed further down the pecking order in the months ahead.
At 25 with four years to run on his deal, Origi’s stock is still relatively high, and he could fetch a decent price. The time is right to let him go before that starts to waver.
Potential fee: Loan
Potential destinations: Blackburn, Derby County, Preston, Swansea
The emergence of Williams has been one of a small handful of positives that Klopp can take from this season. Playing for Kidderminster in the sixth tier as recently as last season, he has taken rapid strides forward, and doesn’t look far from being a Premier League centre-back.
He’s not superhuman, though. The jump up in quality has not gone unnoticed for the 20-year-old, whose decision-making and reading of the game need a little work.
That only comes with experience, however, and he could benefit from a spell out of the limelight once Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip are back in the picture.
Potential fee: £12-15m
Potential destinations: AC Milan, Basel, Lazio, PSG
Shaqiri was close to leaving Liverpool in January, but after his move to Lazio dramatically collapsed at the final hour, he has put his head down and worked his way back into the picture.
Rarely in any of his appearances this season, though, has he actually looked good enough to hold down a place. With Jota back in the fold and Takumi Minamino and Harvey Elliott poised to return from their loans in good form, it only makes logical sense for the Reds to cash in.
With admirers in England and on the continent, he won’t have to look far for offers.
Potential fee: Loan
Potential destinations: AC Milan, RB Leipzig, Wolfsburg
Liverpool will need to sign a replacement for Georginio Wijnaldum. The problem is that with Jordan Henderson, Curtis Jones, Fabinho, Thiago and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain already set to fight it out for midfield places, minutes will be hard to come by.
That spells bad news for Keita, who needs a season of regular football under his belt to find rhythm after an injury-ravaged couple of years.
We’re seeing Minamino benefit from such a spell at Southampton and it could be just the medicine Keita needs to finally deliver on the promise that came with his move from Leipzig.
Potential fee: £12m
Potential destinations: Aston Villa, Cardiff, Norwich, West Ham
Remember Harry Wilson? Welsh bloke? Likes a free-kick now and again?
There was a time that he looked set to press on and challenge for places in the Liverpool front three, but he hasn’t quite developed as planned. He turns 24 later this month, and still looks some way short of making the grade at Anfield.
There can be no doubt there is a Premier League player in there – ten assists on loan at Cardiff this season proves that – but he will soon need to be set free to prove that away from Liverpool.
Potential fee: N/A
Potential destinations: Bournemouth, Celtic, Stoke City, Stuttgart
If only Phillips could have made his Anfield breakthrough a year or two earlier.
The defender, who turns 24 later this month, has proven to be useful cover at centre-back this season, but he just looks a bit too limited to have a long-term future with the Reds.
He brings a lot to the table – he is one of the Premier League’s leading defenders for aerial duels – and looks an attractive prospect to a number of clubs, with his contract due to expire in the summer.
Liverpool may opt to extend his deal in order to recoup a small fee for him, but whatever happens, it’s hard to see him having a role to play beyond the end of this season.