Five things Arne Slot has already learned about Liverpool stars ahead of pre-season

Arne Slot will meet some of his Liverpool squad for the first time this week
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

Liverpool’s players will begin making their way back to the AXA Training Centre this week and will meet their new boss for the first time.

Arne Slot will welcome his first group of players back as pre-season gets underway for the Reds. He will have to wait a little while longer before he can get his full group together though.

Liverpool’s international stars will report back at a later date, with 11 players still away on duty at Euro 2024 and Copa America. Nevertheless, Slot will have learned a lot already about his players.

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Here are five things Liverpool’s new head coach has learned this summer ahead of the start of pre-season.

Cody Gakpo's best position

There can’t be any debate around this anymore. Cody Gakpo has looked sensational for the Netherlands at Euro 2024, and it can’t be any coincidence that he’s found form while playing on the left wing.

That was the 25-year-old’s preferred position before he made the move to Anfield, and was utilized more as a No.9 by Jurgen Klopp. He endured a frustrating season in 2023/24 though, and found himself down the pecking order for much of it.

He managed to win his place back toward the end of the season, and had more joy as he was used more in his natural position. Having starred now for his country in that same role, Slot surely has to play him in the same way.

Keep Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back

One of the earliest lessons Slot would have learned this summer – Klopp was right about Trent Alexander-Arnold.

For years, we’ve been told by pundits how the academy graduate should be playing in midfield, despite establishing himself as one of the world’s biggest talents as a full-back. Gareth Southgate has found out the hard way why he shouldn’t have been listening to those pundits, and instead should have taken the advice of the man who knows Alexander-Arnold best.

Klopp has been adamant over the years that the Liverpool vice-captain is the ‘best right-back in the world’. He may have changed his role slightly to bring him into midfield more, but a permanent shift into the engine room surely will not be on the cards now after England’s failed experiment.

First name on the teamsheet

Slot will of course know all about Liverpool’s biggest names – Alisson, Van Dijk, Alexander-Arnold, Salah. There is arguably one player who trumps those four, and should be the first name on his teamsheet.

Alexis Mac Allister enjoyed a superb first campaign at Liverpool, and undoubtedly earned himself of the tag of signing of the season with his performances. He’s carried his form over to the international stage, with Argentina cruising through the group stages with three wins out of three.

In fact, with their progression already secured, Mac Allister was rested for the third game against Peru, underlining his importance to the world champions. He’ll be just as important for Liverpool next season.

Darwin Nunez still has flaws

Darwin Nunez has been able to put his Liverpool troubles behind him at the Copa America. The striker has found his scoring touch as Uruguay has joined Argentina in the knockout stages, also with three wins out of three.

Nunez now has five goals from his last four appearances for his country, which has offered fans hope that he might be able to start afresh next season for the Reds. In amongst those goals though, his biggest issue has still been clear.

The 25-year-old has still been missing a lot of chances, including ones that were easier than the efforts he put away. Clearly, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done with Nunez, and you feel this could be a make or break season for him.

New defender needed

Although reports have suggested already this summer that Slot is happy with his options at center-back, and he doesn’t see it as a transfer priority, what we’ve seen at Euro 2024 might have changed his mind recently.

Virgil van Dijk has led the Netherlands to the quarter-finals, although he himself hasn’t been at his best at the tournament. He turns 33 on Monday, and as he enters the final year of his contract, it might be time for Liverpool to start looking toward the future.

It’s not been a great summer for Ibrahima Konate either, with the 25-year-old losing his place at the heart of France’s defense, something that he’s put down to his fitness. Injuries have been a major concern with him during his time at Anfield, and rather than potentially rely on him staying fit, it would be wisest for Slot to change his mind and target a new center-back this summer.