No more Mr Nice Guy: Matt Ladson on the players who'll be leaving Jurgen Klopp's squad at the end of the season, whether fans want to see them go or not
The final international break of the year is a time for managers to gather their thoughts ahead of the festive fixtures, which are soon to arrive thick and fast.
It’s also an opportunity to look ahead to the January transfer window, and the opening 11 league games have provided ample opportunity to assess what’s required for the rest of the campaign. For Liverpool, it’s been a typical rollercoaster so far; humiliating defeats at Manchester City and Tottenham, but recovering each time to stay with their fellow top-six rivals.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are seven points worse off than at this stage last season when they topped the table
Yet overall, Jurgen Klopp’s side are seven points worse off than at this stage last season when they topped the table, and it will take an impressive run for them to record the same points total as last season (76). A better festive showing would help that, though, after a dismal January and February last season in which they won just one of seven league games.
Winter is a time when much can be learned about your squad: is the depth there? Are players consistent enough? Can wins be ground out in difficult situations? Klopp must make tough decisions at the end of this season, no longer accepting inconsistency or mediocrity as he enters what will be his third full season in charge at Anfield.
With that in mind, these are the players unlikely to be lining up for the German's side beyond the current campaign...
1. Emre Can
Can looks highly unlikely to sign a new contract and will therefore move on a free transfer next summer. A return to Bayern Munich is very likely, although Juventus have also been linked with the 23-year-old German.
Liverpool will be disappointed to lose Can just as he's entering his prime, especially.= having nurtured him since his arrival four years ago. But they're also probably right not to bend to his reported wage demands and requests for a release clause which, had they given one to Philippe Coutinho for example, would have made for terrible business.
2. Dejan Lovren
By now it’s pretty clear that it'd be best for all parties if Lovren was replaced at Liverpool. The player himself would benefit from a fresh start elsewhere, and Klopp must finally upgrade the area of his team that will forever be his downfall until it’s properly addressed. Liverpool won’t be winning the title with Lovren and Joel Matip in their defence.
Klopp needs two new centre-backs, and while keeping Lovren as a fourth-choice option would be fine for the club, it’s unlikely to be what the player wants.
3. Jon Flanagan
You’d be forgiven for forgetting that Flanagan is still a Liverpool player, and his appearance in the League Cup defeat at Leicester is likely to be his only one this season.
The 24-year-old local lad struggled for playing time while on loan at Burnley last season and it’s difficult to see him ever being a regular in the top flight again after successive knee injuries hampered his career. A move in January, whether permanent or on loan, would be wise.
4. Danny Ings
Much like Flanagan, Ings’s only football these days is playing with Liverpool’s teenagers in the U23 league. The former Burnley forward is clearly likeable, but being a professional mascot sat behind the subs every other week at Anfield is a career with limited shelf life.
Again, a loan or even a permanent move away in January would be wise, since Ings has very little chance to get first-team football with Roberto Firmino, Daniel Sturridge, Dominic Solanke, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Coutinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all ahead of him in Klopp’s attacking plans