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2:00 AM UTC Oct 26, 2016
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Cerro Porteño
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 By Tony Evans

Can Liverpool improve when they have problems at almost every position?

Jurgen Klopp was not smiling. The Liverpool manager was disappointed and tetchy after his side were beaten on penalties by Manchester City in the League Cup final.

"You have to feel a defeat," the German said. "It is important."

He did not expect the depression to last for long. "Only silly idiots stay on the floor and wait for the next defeat," he continued. "Tomorrow morning we can change everything."

Unfortunately for Klopp, there is no quick fix at Anfield. Transforming the squad is no overnight job. There are problems to be solved at almost every position. Here's a closer look:

Simon Mignolet has been an issue since his arrival on Merseyside from Sunderland three years ago. Brendan Rodgers was not impressed by the Belgian and Liverpool's owners shared that view. It is unlikely Klopp sees the 27-year-old as a long-term solution.

Mignolet makes some fine, athletic saves, but will then undo all the good work with a crass mental error. He does not command his area, fails to consistently communicate effectively with his back four and does not transmit confidence to those around him. Forget the five-year deal he signed in January, Liverpool are in the market for a new goalkeeper.

After spending more than £60 million on central defenders in the past three years, Liverpool were pressed into playing Lucas Leiva, a second-string midfielder, at centre-back against City. They have injuries in that area, but even if the entire complement of centre-halves were available, what is the best pairing from Mamadou Sakho, Dejan Lovren, Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure? Does Tiago Ilori even exist?

It is hardly a surprise that Klopp snapped up Joel Matip from Schalke and it would not be a shock if another central defender arrived at Anfield in the summer.

At right back, Nathaniel Clyne looks like a long-term solution but Alberto Moreno on the left is on borrowed time. The Spaniard's performance at Wembley was embarrassing. He played without discipline and gave little help to Lucas when the makeshift central defender needed backup. When Joe Gomez returns to fitness, an extended run at left back beckons.

How Liverpool crave an up-and-down midfielder to provide an attacking threat. The lack of firepower from the middle of the park is painful. Emre Can, Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Joe Allen and Lucas will never change games. None of them seem an ideal match for Klopp's pressing game, either. Adam Lallana is lightweight and Jordon Ibe inexperienced.

It is painful to see Dele Alli thriving at Tottenham Hotspur when Liverpool were in pole position to sign the 19-year-old before the club had a change of mind about the player's potential.

Marko Grujic will arrive from Red Star Belgrade in the summer and there are high hopes for the 19-year-old, but yet again Liverpool seem to be buying potential rather than someone who can contribute immediately. That has been one of the flaws in the transfer strategy under Fenway Sports Group's ownership. Klopp needs players who can make an immediate impact.

This is the one area with comparative riches. Daniel Sturridge is one of the most dangerous strikers in the world if he can stay fit. Philippe Coutinho (is he a forward rather than midfielder?) has the guile to unlock defences. Roberto Firmino has had his best moments when playing in the danger areas rather than deeper. Divock Origi has strength and power and can lead the line and manhandle defenders. Danny Ings' return will give Klopp an extra weapon.

When Origi was given the nod off the bench at Wembley ahead of Christian Benteke, it sealed the former Aston Villa striker's fate at Anfield. It is disappointing that Klopp has been unable to get anywhere near the best out of a proven Premier League goalscorer. Benteke looks to be headed out the exit door in the summer, but there are options and talent aplenty up front for Liverpool. Unfortunately, when Sturridge is unavailable, the cutting edge is dulled significantly.

The infamous Liverpool transfer committee have not served their managers well. Rodgers was given players who did not suit his style of play. The problem was compounded because the former manager's own selections were as hapless as the committee's targets.

Klopp needs better players. It will take two summer transfer windows to revamp the squad. Until there is a clearout and influx of men more suited to the pace and power of the Premier League, Liverpool will punch below their weight. There will be quite a few tomorrows before that happens.

Tony Evans has been a sports journalist for more than 20 years. He writes for ESPN FC on the Premier League. Twitter: @tonyevans92a.


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