On June 7 last year, now 284 days ago, Real Madrid agreed to pay AS Monaco a sum of $ 85 million for Aurélien Tchouaméni. The deal was confirmed four days later.
It later turned out that Liverpool was also very enthusiastic about the player. The Reds had made inquiries, but were told that Tchouaméni wanted to move to the Santiago Bernabéu.
Instead of going to an alternative target, Liverpool chose not to go after anyone else. Jude Bellingham would be unavailable for the next 12 months and until Arthur Melo signed a season-long loan deal, Liverpool insisted no new midfield signing was required.
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It’s safe to say that the decision turned out to be wrong. Even if Bellingham is signed, which is no guarantee, Liverpool will need to buy at least one more midfielder this summer.
Only the emergence of Stefan Bajčetić, who is now out injured for the rest of the season, has saved them from even more blushing and an even worse campaign than the last.
Tchouaméni is clearly one of the best up and coming midfielders out there and Liverpool were right to believe he was in the same potentially game-breaking category as Bellingham.
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But Real Madrid’s appeal was strong and the player chose not to move to Anfield. That can happen, and the mistake then was not to go to another goal – now I have to do at least two in one summer, with a season where more trophies could have been fought over now gone.
All of Liverpool’s problems – not just the lack of quality midfielders available, but also the knock-on impact on defense and the sometimes failed attack – stem from that decision.
Failing to sign another midfielder to complement Jurgen Klopp’s ranks and improve the team in that position is where the problems come back elsewhere.
Trent Alexander-Arnold has had to contend with more defending due to Liverpool’s lack of control and dominance in the center of the field, while the centre-backs have been left exposed by a lack of protection up front.
Injury setbacks are often a result of players being overplayed, with one injury potentially leading to another and quickly spiraling.
The forwards have missed opportunities due to the increased pressure with every shot thanks to a lack of chances and the feeling that a defensive error is not far off.
However, it’s hard to escape the feeling that midfield is where Liverpool’s troubles began. Like when it lacked centre-backs to re-establish when they returned a few seasons ago, a quick revival is more than possible with two or three midfielders being brought to the club in the summer.
But that won’t be cheap or easy, and it comes a year late with another season under Klopp essentially wasted – and Champions League football is now under serious threat.
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