Wirtz signs as Salah leaves - Arne Slot’s dream and nightmare first Liverpool transfer window

Arne Slot and Liverpool are set for a busy summer full of decisions
-Credit: (Image: Broer van den Boom/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Liverpool fans enter a summer of trepidation for the first time in nine years as new head coach Arne Slot is tasked with deciphering who he needs and who he doesn't.

A number of issues linger in the air, such as the contract situation of three key players and the Dutchman’s transfer policy having arrived from the Eredivisie. Slot officially starts his job in nine days but he might already be drafting up plans.

Eyes will be fixated on Slot, who will need to make a good first impression on both players and fans given the work Jurgen Klopp did and the healthy situation he has left behind. Liverpool fans will hope he has a dream transfer window and avoids a nightmare start that will have alarm bells ringing.

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Dream transfer window

The manager’s first team meeting will be imperative in setting the tone of his tenure. Klopp wowed players during his meet and was immediately a hit with the media.

Slot would do well to replicate that - his first few weeks may cause some players to lean towards contract decisions. Captain Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah will all soon enter the final 12 months of their contracts.

Salah is expected to stay for the new season, while Van Dijk and Alexander-Arnold may delay their decision over a renewal too. The dream scenario would see all three tie down new deals with Liverpool, so impressed are they by Slot’s summer work.

Incomings could play a factor in their decisions. It seems a defensive midfielder is a must if Slot is to play two pivots in his system.

Liverpool have options in central midfield but perhaps only Endo and young Stefan Bajcetic are natural sitters, with Alexis Mac Allister struggling in the role at times. Alexander-Arnold can play there too but he has barely played a full game solely in the position.

So the arrival of a new pivot, perhaps Exequiel Palacios of Bayer Leverkusen, would go a long way - as would the arrival of teammate Florian Wirtz, who can play as the attacking midfielder in the 4-2-3-1 formation. The 21-year-old can also play on the wing if ever needed.

The future of Luis Diaz has been discussed in recent months amid links with Paris Saint-Germain upon Kylian Mbappe’s imminent exit. Ensuring Diaz stays at Liverpool would denote one less transfer problem for Slot.

And given this is a ‘dream’ scenario, ideally a protege for Salah would be brought in. The winger turns 32 next month and it seems wise to future-proof the right wing.

Mohammed Kudus or Michael Olise would be dreamland but, perhaps more realistically, a less expensive talent like Takefusa Kubo of Real Sociedad could be sought.

Takefusa Kubo has been linked with a move to Liverpool
Takefusa Kubo has been linked with a move to Liverpool -Credit:Getty Images

Money will, of course, be a factor this window - in Klopp’s reign, Liverpool had the lowest net spend of the top six by some distance. So a new clinical striker to compliment Diogo Jota might be nice, albeit unlikely given Cody Gakpo and Darwin Nunez are also fighting for game time.

One other thing to mention is how successfully and quickly Slot can manage to implement his tactics. A good pre-season would instil confidence and build the hype around Liverpool, making them an even more attractive proposition. As inferred, early recruitment and impressions would nurse this feeling.

Nightmare transfer window

Let's hope this part stays theoretical. Misjudged first-team meetings and under-sold first training sessions could ultimately cause some players to dip out early.

Van Dijk, Salah and Alexander-Arnold all have more power in this regard, not just due to their stature, but namely that Liverpool would only have two windows to sell them on if they indicate they are not down for a renewal.

A poor first few press conferences may cause reputational damage in the eyes of potential signings, and if his philosophy goes down like a led balloon on the training pitch then some big names may take their leave. One key figure leaving could prompt an exodus.

Any of Salah, Van Dijk and particularly academy graduate Alexander-Arnold could tempt others to follow suit. That would leave Liverpool in some difficulty within the market, despite the money each three would bring in.

Liverpool could struggle to bring in their top targets and Slot may resort to turning to Eredivisie talent. Traditionally, those who make the switch over from the Dutch league have failed to cut it in the Premier League, barring a handful of exceptions, most notably Luis Suarez.

But Gakpo, for instance, took a while to acclimatise to English football and such arrivals wouldn’t have the same timeframe to impress under new boy Slot compared to cult hero Klopp. Additionally, lose the first few games of the season and the Reds could spiral.

Seeing Diaz exit to PSG and Alisson, 32 in October, take up a Saudi offer would leave the club in a mire. Slot must also manage squad mentality too - fans have seen how emotional Darwin Nunez can get at times, for example.

It’s worth re-emphasising that this is a ‘nightmare’ scenario and that all of these dominoes falling in a single summer would be unlikely. But the momentum stems from Slot’s first few weeks and months as Liverpool boss, which is why a good start is needed.

Liverpool used a data-led approach to find the right man to make the transition from Klopp as seamless as it can be, within reason. Fans have seen what Michael Edwards has been able to do before and will hope he can have the same effect in his new role of Football CEO at FSG this time around to prevent this nightmare situation unravelling.