Liverpool reached the heights of fourth in the Premier League season and, while they did not find cup success, they will be in the hat for the Champions League playoff draw on Aug. 4, 2017 and will be one of the seeded teams.
A year ago, Jurgen Klopp was pondering his first summer in charge of the club and was putting into practice some of the unique training plans that has made them so successful this season. Now, with a full year of fitness behind them and an increased transfer budget due to participation in Europe’s top club competition for the first time since 2014-15, they will be looking to make the step up.
The squad have already been out to Australia to play Sydney FC at ANZ Stadium on May 22 — in a game that included Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher — but real preparations begin in Hong Kong, their first trip to the region since 2007.
Liverpool have a huge fanbase in Asia and shirt sponsors Standard Chartered have a strong presence there, with the four-team knockout Asia trophy also featuring Crystal Palace (July 19) and a game against either Leicester or West Brom on July 29.
Then it’s over to Germany for three games in a week, starting with a celebration of both clubs’ 125th anniversaries (branded ‘Celebrating football since 1892’) against Hertha Berlin (July 29). The Audi Cup at Bayern’s Allianz Arena will see Klopp’s men come up against the German champions, as well as Atletico Madrid and one team yet to be announced, but likely to be either Napoli or AC Milan.
The final game on the agenda is a trip to Ireland to face Athletic Bilbao — the first time the teams have met since the European Cup campaign of 1983-84 when Liverpool went on to lift the trophy.
July 19: Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace (PL Asia Trophy, Hong Kong)
July 22: Liverpool vs. West Brom/Leicester City (PL Asia Trophy, Hong Kong)
July 29: Liverpool vs. Hertha BSC, Olympiastadion Berlin
Aug. 1: Liverpool vs. Bayern Munich/Atletico Madrid/TBD (Audi Cup, Allianz Arena)
Aug. 2: Liverpool vs. Bayern Munich/Atletico Madrid/TBD (Audi Cup, Allianz Arena)
Aug. 5: Liverpool vs. Athletic Club, Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Total matches: Six
Total miles travelled: 13,981 (estimated)
– Liverpool to Hong Hong round-trip: 11,994 miles
– Liverpool to Berlin: 683 miles
– Berlin to Munich: 314 miles
– Munich to Dublin: 855 miles
– Dublin to Liverpool: 135 miles
The final opponents for the Audi Cup are yet to be named. But of more importance is that the new Premier League season begins on Aug. 12 and almost immediately the club will face their Champions League playoff first-leg on the 15th or 16th. Before a second-leg on Aug. 22-23. The UCL opponents will be announced in a draw on Aug. 4, but a tough first few fixtures in the league could well make it a hard week or two.
Liverpool WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images
Ins and outs
Liverpool will have extra games so desperately need to add some squad depth to the side. A left-back, centre-back, winger and a big-name striker to complement the arrival of England Under-20 star Dominic Solanke, are on the cards, while the future of Daniel Sturridge and midfielder Lucas remain up for debate.
The club will want to make a statement signing, but made rather the wrong statement in their failed pursuit of Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk.
– Dominic Solanke, ST, Chelsea: free transfer
Major players linked with arrival:
– Mohamed Salah, FW: Roma
– Virgil van Dijk, DF: Southampton
– Gelson Martins, FW, Sporting Lisbon
– Kylian Mbappe, FW: Monaco
– Naby Keita, MID, RB Leipzig
– Alex Manninger, GK: contract ended
– Mamadou Sakho, DF, Crystal Palace
– Alberto Moreno, DF, La Liga: Loan
– Lazar Markovic, FW, West Ham
– Andre Wisdom, DF, Derby
Klopp used the loan market well last year to send some young players out, but he’s already promised that goalkeeper Danny Ward will fight for a place in the XI. He has a decision whether to keep or sell young Pedro Chirivella, but the future looks bad for the likes of Andre Wisdom and Jon Flanagan.
Returning from loan:
– Danny Ward, GK: Huddersfield
– Jon Flanagan, DF: Burnley
– Lloyd Jones, DF: Swindon Town
– Andre Wisdom, DF: Red Bull Salzburg
– Lazar Markovic, FW: Hull City
– Cameron Brannagan, MID: Fleetwood Town
– Pedro Chirivella, MID: Go Ahead Eagles
A squad of 25 travelled to Sydney and that included some young players too. Rhian Brewster, 17, should get a chance alongside the more established likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, 18, and Ben Woodburn, 17. Despite failing to break into the first XI last season, 20-year-old Harry Wilson scored buckets of goals for the reserves and should get a chance to impress.
Joe Gomez, 20, will hope to take his chance to impress Klopp after a season spent recovering from serious injury. Sheyi Ojo and new arrival Solanke will be equally keen to make their mark after impressing with England U20 at the World Cup.
Possible youth-teamers to travel to Asia:
– Rhian Brewster, FW, 17-years-old
– Ben Woodburn, ST, 17
– Sheyi Ojo, FW, 19
– Harry Wilson, ST, 20
– Joe Gomez, DEF, 20
– Connor Randall, DEF, 21
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