Liverpool’s pre-season tour to the United States has solved plenty of questions for Jurgen Klopp.
He now knows that Mamadou Sakho doesn’t care much for his rules and that Loris Karius needs to work on his coordination with Dejan Lovren. He’s also learned that Sadio Mane’s pace can be an important asset this season.
But Klopp will also return to Anfield with a few concerns. Liverpool’s opening game of the new Premier League season is just 12 days away and the German isn’t without any headaches.
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The Reds lost two out of their three matches in the US and have two friendlies to resolve their issues before taking on Arsenal on August 14.
And, while the club have certainly strengthened this summer, there remain lingering issues that have the potential to wreck Liverpool’s season.
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Here, GiveMeSport picks out five of the biggest problems currently facing Klopp.
1. Mignolet = doom
The £4.7 million signing of Loris Karius from Mainz was supposed to dump Simon Mignolet onto the bench for the foreseeable future.
But Karius got injured in his fifth game for the club, breaking his hand after colliding with Dejan Lovren in the 1-0 defeat to Chelsea. A collective ‘d’oh!’ could be heard near the Liverpool touchline when Karius trudged off.
The German is out for eight to 10 weeks, meaning it’s left to Mignolet to see in the new Premier League season.
The Reds already have issues in defence; having Mignolet between the sticks simply compounds those woes.
His error in allowing Mohamed Salah to score AS Roma’s second goal in Monday evening’s 2-1 defeat has caused serious panic among Liverpool fans who realise that Arsenal, Tottenham, Leicester City and Chelsea are four of their opening five opponents.
2. Sturridge vs Origi
Klopp needs to decide whether Daniel Sturridge or Divock Origi will head Liverpool’s attack.
While the presidential election has split America, Liverpool supporters seem undecided on whether the England international or the Belgian forward is the best option.
Sturridge is better technically but Origi works harder for the team. The 21-year-old proved his finishing ability with a fine effort against AC Milan but Sturridge’s goalscoring record is impressive.
It’s probably not wrong to dismiss Danny Ings, either.
Having competition is usually healthy but without a clear winner yet, Klopp could enter the season without knowing who his best striker is.
3. Where's Wijanaldum's best position?
Klopp already had a plethora of attacking options before he decided to sign Georginio Wijnaldum from Newcastle.
That indicates why he has played in a deeper role in his two starts against Milan and Roma.
Klopp signed the Dutchman following his efforts as an attacking midfielder and winger for Newcastle but playing him in an advanced position means someone has to miss out.
And, although his late runs and composure stood out in the United States, playing an attack-minded player in a deep position sacrifices some level of defensive resistance.
Wijnaldum is a fine player but Klopp can’t afford to waste his talents.
4. Wanted: Left-back
When Jamie Carragher ordered Liverpool to sign a new left back after the Europa League final defeat to Sevilla, he probably wasn’t expecting his words to fall on deaf ears.
Not because Klopp listens to every demand a Liverpool hero makes but because it was blatantly obvious that Alberto Moreno isn’t worthy of playing for a team with plans of qualifying for the Champions League.
He was terrible in the 1-0 defeat to Chelsea last week, finding himself out of position and losing the ball on an all-too-familiar basis.
Klopp has so far failed to bring in another full back despite allowing Jose Enrique and Brad Smith to leave. Instead, his plan is to use James Milner as a left back.
Alexis Sanchez must be licking his chops at the thought of taking on Moreno or Milner in 12 day’ time.
5. Just go Balo
It’s August and Mario Balotelli remains a Liverpool player. For a player who hasn’t played a competitive game for the Reds in over a year, that’s rather concerning.
What is perhaps even more worrying is that nobody seems to want Balotelli. AC Milan were quick to send him back to England following the end of his loan spell in Italy, while Besiktas have twice denied having any interest in the striker.
Which means he’s Klopp’s problem. And while he’s earning £90,000-a-week to train with the Under-21s, Balotelli won’t be agitating to leave Anfield.
The 25-year-old was pictured smoking a cigarette while in Italy on Monday. Klopp will be glad to know that he’s taking good care of himself.