Making sense of Liverpool's transfer activity so far

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A lack of stellar signings has been the talking point among some sections of support during Jurgen Klopp's first summer as Liverpool manager.

A disappointing league finish was somewhat forgiven following two cup final appearances as Klopp and Liverpool got to know each other during his opening months in charge.

Much was made of the importance of this summer's transfer market, as the previous campaign, for all of its positives and negatives, was Klopp dealing with a team he had inherited, rather than built for himself.


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After the flirtation with the signing of a marquee name such as Mario Gotze, some Liverpool fans have been left underwhelmed by the arrivals thus far this summer.

Marko Grujic and Joel Matip have arrived after their signatures were secured in January's window before spending the rest of the season with Red Star Belgrade and Schalke respectively.

This summer, Germany U-21 international goalkeeper Loris Karius has arrived from Mainz, Sadio Mane has trodden the familiar path from Southampton to Liverpool, experienced but unspectacular duo Ragnar Klavan and Alexander Manninger have arrived from Ausburg, and most recently, Georginio Wijnaldum has arrived from Newcastle United.

So do any of these signings improve a side that finished a distant eighth last season?

Karius has been recruited to provide competition for, and perhaps even replace, Simon Mignolet. The Belgian international has come under criticism during his Liverpool career, and whilst he remains a fine shot-stopper, his erratic nature when coming for crosses and poor distribution have been highlighted as weaknesses in his game.

At first glance, the comparative 2015/2016 statistics favour Liverpool's first choice. The Belgian's pass success rate is 60.6% compared to Karius' 54.1%. A deeper analysis of the differentiating style of play between Mainz and Liverpool may reveal a truer indication. Karius averaged 7.6 long balls per 90 minutes compared to Mignolet's 5.6 which may go some way accounting for his lower completion rate.

Karius averages more touches per game than Mignolet, 32.4 to 23.6, perhaps showing he is more comfortable with the ball at his feet than his new teammate, a trait Klopp is particularly keen on.

Joel Matip has been brought in to bolster the defensive ranks following the departures of Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure.

A free transfer from Schalke, the Cameroonian international boasts pedigree, having been a fine operator in the Bundesliga for several seasons. Last season, the 24-year-old averaged more tackles, blocks, and interceptions per 90 minutes than Skrtel, whilst also chipping in with three goals and three assists.

At 195cm, comfortably taller than both Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho, Matip provides an imposing aerial presence. He averaged 3.5 aerial duels won per game last season, whilst Skrtel's average was 2.3. His considerable size could provide Liverpool a useful asset in both penalty areas. 

Of Liverpool's more lavish recruits, Sadio Mane is perhaps the most intriguing. Having followed the familiar path of swapping Southampton for Liverpool, many have been critical of his hefty price tag in today's inflated market.

A tally of 11 Premier League goals last season was higher than any of Liverpool's attacking midfielders, aided by a further six assists. The Senegal international averages 2.3 shots and 2.6 dribbles per 90 minutes, higher than both Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino.

It is indeed Lallana who is perhaps most at risk from Mane's arrival, with both operating on the right flank for much of last season. The two offer very different skill sets, and the pace of Mane offers Liverpool a cutting edge they perhaps lacked last season.

The arrival of Wijnaldum from Newcastle has also been met with a mixed reaction. At £25m, the midfielder represents a substantial outlay. Like Mane, Wijnaldum scored 11 Premier League goals last season, only PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez scored more from midfield. 

Despite stating his preference to play centrally, much of Wijnaldum's more productive work came from operating from the left flank. In fact, eight of his 11 league goals came after being deployed in this position.

This may also be of great appeal to Klopp, who stationed Philippe Coutinho, arguably his finest player, out on the left for the majority of last season. The diminutive Brazilian playmaker is Liverpool's creative hub, and the opportunity to flourish in his preferred central role could be aided by the signature of Newcastle's Dutch midfielder.

Indeed, Coutinho started just six league games centrally last season, although an output of three goals and two assists from those games indicates Klopp would be right to try and extract the best from his number 10.

Of the other signings, Grujic has been signed as one for the future, but early indications in pre-season suggest he may be more than capable of producing immediately.

Ragnar Klavan and Alex Manninger have arrived to provide back-up and experienced heads. The Estonian centre-back Klavan comes with a reputation as a no-nonsense defender, having averaged more clearances per game than any other defender in the Bundesliga in the past four seasons.

The arrival of ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Manninger, at 39, represents little more than back-up to allow promising youngsters Danny Ward and Ryan Fulton to develop out on loan.

Whilst Liverpool fans will hope that is not the last of their summer activity, there is perhaps more logic to Klopp's planning than first appears.

The German comes with a reputation of signing lesser known players and creating superstars, rather than signing the finished article. Whether that reputation is enhanced will be proved in the coming months.

What have YOU made of Liverpool's transfer window so far? Leave us YOUR thoughts in the comment section below!

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