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 By Steven Kelly

Klopp with so much at stake as Liverpool fear transfer tribulation

Two weeks ago, news broke of a possible deal between Liverpool and Roma for Mohamed Salah, but there is still no resolution.

Rumours have spread like wildfire, with social media naturally ablaze with claim and counterclaim. Even Salah's agent is getting sick of it.

Liverpool's first bid was not as big as originally thought, with Roma's president seemingly prepared to dig in for a lot more.

One report claims the Reds can play a patient game, as Roma have to sell players by June 30 because of financial fair play. If true, it may hand Liverpool a slight advantage in this particular deal but it is hardly reassuring for fans who wanted more players to arrive this summer.

They've come to expect delay and frustration. Up to now, Liverpool are following their usual script. These are early days, and it must be tempting to fall asleep until the season starts, then just check who's on the team and who's not.

Squad strength was a big problem for Liverpool last season, so the thirst for marquee signings may well go unquenched as Jurgen Klopp steadies himself for the long haul of season 2017-18.

It must always be stressed that this club is in a kind of financial limbo. Yes, they are usually one of the 10 richest clubs in the world, but four of the clubs above them are English -- and by quite a distance too.

"Money is no object" doesn't apply to the Reds, and despite recruiting a manager whose transfer savvy is respected throughout Europe, they appear to have lost all judgment in the lower end of the market.

Sadio Mane, Virgil van Dijk and even Salah could all have been snapped up for far less years ago. "Less rich, less smart" was never anybody's motto for success.

Links to Kylian Mbappe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang still emerge with little credibility. The sheer scale of transfer speculation can be exhausting. What purpose it does serve is indicating where Liverpool are looking to strengthen.

Attacking midfielders seem to be the names most conjured up. Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, even Monaco's Thomas Lemar are being mentioned.

First clue there is that Klopp intends to fortify that part of the team which works the hardest, given the extra fixtures in Europe next season. Pace is also vital, given how Liverpool let their season's ambitions slip last January when their one speedy forward Mane left for the African Nations Cup. Oxlade-Chamberlain is the strangest link. Already playing for one of the Reds' English rivals, a huge fee would be needed to prise him away from Arsenal. This is also a player who has specific ideas on where he wants to play. That didn't work out too well for James Milner, who left Manchester City for a regular place in central midfield.

Klopp's first decision as Liverpool manager was to put Milner back on the wing, and then he played him at left-back for all of last season. Some fans are happy to just let Klopp have his way; if he saw real potential in "The Ox," then spend what's necessary. Others aren't sure his exploits in an Arsenal shirt justify the huge chunk of Liverpool's transfer kitty it would take to land him.

Roma ace Mohamed Salah has been heavily linked with a return to the Premier League.
Roma ace Mohamed Salah has been heavily linked with a return to the Premier League.

Greater value seems to lie elsewhere, mainly in Europe, but even Salah may cost £35 million. This is the way of the football world.

Of course, all of these links could be mere ploys to make Roma get a move on over Salah. There are other parts of the team that need redressing. Milner has done well, but a secure left-back is long overdue. Another quality centre half is desperately needed too. Some unkind souls might baulk at the word "another," since it's doubtful Liverpool even have one.

Until now, Liverpool's transfer strategy has looked difficult, but it's not as if they are the only ones. Stories are emerging that Antonio Conte is struggling to get what he wants from champions Chelsea, who've rarely refused to spend big under Roman Abramovich.

Aubameyang only came up on the radar as an unlikely transfer alternative because a proposed deal with super-rich Paris Saint-Germain fell through. If PSG are starting to quibble about value for money, why are Liverpool being criticised for doing the same?

The answer lies in the Reds' prolonged absence from the top table and a string of inadequate transfer summers that's lasted almost a decade. The whole Van Dijk debacle merely rubber-stamped Liverpool's new reputation.

So much is at stake this summer. The club managed to have a decent season last time out without European distraction, but another repeat of previous disappointments would prove a bitter blow.

Calls for patience are perfectly valid in June. If those same calls are being made in July, fans are bound to become more nervous than ever.

Steven Kelly is one of ESPN FC's Liverpool bloggers. Follow him on Twitter @SteKelly198586.


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