The Reds have gone from perennial Premier League title contenders over recent seasons slugging it out in thrilling fashion with fellow dominant powerhouses Manchester City to an uphill battle just to make the top four this term, with Monday’s woeful 3-1 defeat at Brentford leaving them still sixth and four points behind those Champions League qualification slots after 17 matches in 2022/23.
Liverpool have already spent £44million in the early stages of the January window on Netherlands winger Cody Gakpo from PSV Eindhoven, though major mid-season spending is unlikely again amid more warnings from manager Klopp over their inability to keep pace with the likes of City on that front.
Fenway Sports Group (FSG) are seeking fresh investment at Anfield that could lead to new ownership and Carragher believes the summer window will be crucial in a bid to restore that status as contenders and bring down the age of the squad, stating that at least three new midfielders are needed with the likes of Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner all approaching the end of their respective contracts on Merseyside.
“When you look at the age profile of a lot of the players within the squad, they’ve got a lot of players either in their 30s or coming into their 30s who’ve been great for the club,” he said on Sky Sports after the loss at Brentford.
"But I think that is one of the reasons why the ownership is up for sale, or they’re looking for investment, because Liverpool are going to need to go big in the summer.
"You think what Chelsea and Manchester United spent in the summer, and they’re still not close to winning the title, so it shows you the kind of funds that you need to compete at the top of the league.
"Liverpool year in, year out have sort of sold someone and bought someone, but I think this is a case of now Liverpool need to spend about £200million.
"I’m not saying that in terms of that’s the secret to success, because there’s been lots of teams who have spent lots of money and it doesn’t necessarily work, but Liverpool need to sign three midfield players, I would say.
"Not necessarily all to play, but Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain, they’re both out of contract - so is James Milner.
"The age of Thiago who is injured quite a lot, [Jordan] Henderson, Fabinho. I think Liverpool need three midfield players and I think when you’re talking about real quality you need at least 40-50 million on those types of players, I would imagine."
Carragher admits Liverpool need someone in the mold of long-term target Jude Bellingham, but also used former Red Georginio Wijnaldum as the example of another type of midfielder Liverpool must recruit in order to offer some much-needed protection to a defence that have been well below-par this season despite the continued presence of the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahima Konate and Joel Matip.
“People keep talking about Bellingham and rightly so, he’s going to be one of the best young players in world football, but if Liverpool don’t get top four that’ll be a problem,” Carragher added when asked who Liverpool should target in midfield.
“But for me, as important as a Bellingham-type if you could get him, would be a Wijnaldum-type. That type of player who, alongside a Fabinho, can actually just protect that back four and stop players running through towards that defence.
“We talk about Virgil van Dijk and we say that he’s been one of the best centre-backs in the world that we’ve seen over the last five years, and this season we’re saying he’s not at his best. He wasn’t at his best today, but do you know what it tells me? I don’t think he’s a completely different player. No matter how good you are as a defender, if you haven’t got protection in front of you, it’s very, very difficult.
“I go back to the best centre-back I think I’ve ever seen in my life, Franco Baresi. He had an unbelievable midfield in front of him in terms of [Carlo] Ancelotti and [Frank] Rijkaard, those people doing jobs in front of him. No matter how good you are as a centre-back, you need protection. If you don’t get that you’ve got no chance.”