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Liverpool finished 18 points behind Premier League winners Chelsea this season, yet more than matched the Blues in both league meetings.
The Reds were easy on the eye under Jürgen Klopp but conceded 42 goals in 38 games. That total was the second worst in the top six and improvement is needed ahead of the 2017-18 campaign.
The charismatic German boss has drawn up a five-man shortlist ahead of this summer's transfer window, according to the Independent.
They've already captured Chelsea's Dominic Solanke, who will officially join from the champions at the beginning of July and there is still plenty of business to be completed.
Virgil van Dijk is a long-term Liverpool transfer target and would significantly strengthen their backline. The Southampton man would be the latest Saints player to make the switch to Merseyside but would command a hefty fee.
He joined the South Coast club for £13million and was one of their outstanding players in a mediocre season for the club. His stats for the 2016-17 season are impressive and he's particularly effective in the air. The Reds will be required to outbid the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea for his services.
Where Does the Problem Lie?
Liverpool's key issue has been defending set-pieces. The Reds conceded eleven goals from set-pieces is simply not acceptable for a side who are competing at the top of the table.
They've shipped the most goals in the top six from corners and free-kicks and it is something Klopp failed to address throughout the campaign. Dejan Lovren was drafted in to add some height to the side but the Croatian's concentration is clearly an issue.
At Southampton, he regularly repelled continuous attacks throughout a 90-minute period whereas Liverpool's attacking mindset allowed the centre-back moments of quiet and it appears his mind can drift.
He divides the fans and his crucial mistakes have become a regular frustration for the supporters. as ‘erratic' when analysing his inconsistent campaign.
According to Whoscored.com, central midfielder Jordan Henderson made the most tackles for the team last season with an average of 3.7 per game – no Reds defender managed more.
One option for Klopp could be reverting to a three-man backline next season. It worked against Stoke this season and it proved effective for Chelsea with the champions utilising this tactic throughout the majority of their campaign. If van Dijk arrives at Anfield the German has the players at his disposal to implement such a tactic.
The final six matches of the season yielded five clean sheets, with only Crystal Palace finding a way through.
This demonstrated a significant improvement and perhaps title-challenging credentials; as of June 6th, they are priced up at 12/1 odds with Betway Sports for next season's Premier League. Joel Matip looks set to play a key part in next season's defence but the remainder of the backline remains a mystery for now.
Andrew Robertson is heavily linked with the club and the Scot would prove a savvy addition. The left-back position has proved troublesome for a number of seasons with James Milner deputising this campaign.
The Hull man was relegated to the Championship but was a standout player for the Tigers with his regular forays down the left setting up numerous chances for the Humberside club.
According to the Sunday Post, he won't be making a decision anytime soon, however, as he concentrates on his international commitments throughout June.
The highly rated Ryan Sessegnon is another name linked with the Merseyside club. The Fulham teenager is a terrific player and a bright prospect for the future, but according to the Liverpool Echo, the Reds have withdrawn from the race to sign him.
Spurs are believed to have tied up a deal to sign the 17-year-old, who is believed to be keen on remaining in London. The hunt for a left-back continues but Jurgen Klopp has plenty of time to mould his squad ahead of August.
Mohamed Salah is another name linked and Liverpool are believed to be closing in on the Egyptian winger.
He is an impressive outlet who would give the club plenty of energy in the final third. However, plugging the holes in the defence should be the priority. The club cannot afford to ignore the defensive issues which plagued them for the majority of last season. They must endeavour to find the solution.
A new goalkeeper who can command his area and help keep Lovren on his toes, is a possibility. Opposing sides will deliberately target the previously shaky Liverpool defence with set pieces next season and the Reds need to make sure they are ready for the onslaught.