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Premier League: Liverpool slide further adrift in top-four race

Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool will need to invest heavily in their squad this summer to close the gap on their rivals.

After a period of sustained success, Liverpool have dramatically declined this season and Saturday's goalless draw at Crystal Palace delivered a further dent to their top-four hopes.

Liverpool, who are 2/1 to finish in the Champions League places, sit seventh and are six points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham with a game in hand. 

They dominated possession at Selhurst Park but failed to convert for the fourth time in six Premier League outings.

The disappointing performance came on the back of a 5-2 humbling at home to Real Madrid in the Champions League, having thrown away a two-goal lead in that clash, and places Klopp under further pressure.

Credit in the bank for Klopp

It goes without saying that Klopp has worked wonders since taking the reins at Anfield in October 2015.

Liverpool had secured just one top four finish in the six seasons prior to his arrival, while they had reached just two finals during that period - winning the League Cup and finishing runners-up in the FA Cup - both in 2011/12.

They sat 10th when he came in to replace Brandan Rodgers and he led them to an eighth-place finish, while also finishing runners-up in the League Cup and Europa League.

In the six full seasons that have followed, Klopp transformed his squad into a formidable outfit, including winning a first-ever Premier League title.

He also led them to glory in the Champions League, Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup, FA Cup and League Cup.

Last season, they were on the verge of history as they almost became the first English club to win the quadruple, falling shy of Manchester City by a point in the Premier League title race and losing in the Champions League final against Real Madrid. 

Due to those exploits, it's unlikely the Liverpool hierarchy will pull the trigger before this season concludes, even if it does look like they will miss out on a Champions League berth.

Klopp clear on resolution

But Klopp could be tempted to walk away from his role if he doesn't get the backing he requires in the summer.

Liverpool, who are 1/3 To Finish in Top 6, sanctioned the sale of Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich at the end of last term and, despite adding Darwin Nunez to their ranks, they haven't been able to replace the prolific Senegal international. 

The Uruguayan was the only big-name arrival during the off-season, signing for £65million, while youngsters Calvin Ramsey and Fabio Carvalho also came through the doors for a combined £9million.

Netherlands international Cody Gakpo was snapped up in January for a further £37million but he appears to be taking time to settle.

With the likes of Arsenal, who top the table, Manchester United, who have emerged as title contenders under new boss Erik ten Hag, and big-spending Newcastle all emerging this campaign, Klopp recognises that there is a lot of work to be done.

"I cannot decide, at all, about money. Not about one penny. It is always the same.

"It's not helpful [if we don't get Champions League]. Money always has an impact. But this cannot be that much of an impact, let me say it like this. Of course, it is influential but this is a summer where we have to be in the market, definitely."

Star men have lost their shine

Few would have predicted that the departure of Mane would have such a major impact on Liverpool's frontline.

Mohamed Salah, who has won three Golden Boots, remains a key part of their attack but he has bagged just eight goals in the league this term.

Nunez, partly down to time on the sidelines due to injury, hasn't been able to hit the ground running, while the likes of Diogo Jota, Luiz Diaz and Roberto Firmino have also spent time in the treatment room.

Liverpool's final third threat over recent years has often come from full-backs Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold, however, they have been well below their usual high standards.

Alexander-Arnold, who laid on 12 assists last season, has managed just two this term, while Robertson, who hit 10 assists in 2021/22, is only slightly better with five to his name.

Defensively, Liverpool have been exposed time and time again with Virgil van Dijk no longer patrolling a well-organised backline, while Fabinho, who previously provided a solid buffer from midfield, has also found it difficult to offer the same level of protection.

It's clear that Klopp needs to invest in several areas and a squad overhaul could be on the cards this summer.

However, as the German stated, the possibility of missing out on featuring in Europe's elite competition could prove hugely problematic in trying to tempt high-calibre recruits.

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