Liverpool are not good enough to finish in the top four and must replace one of their long-established stars to ever return to the top, according to former striker John Aldridge.
The Reds missed a glorious opportunity to lift themselves back into the top four after Newcastle netted an injury-time equaliser on Saturday. The result saw an alarmed Jurgen Klopp make a big admission over their bid to secure a Champions League finish.
However, it was the manner of the unconvincing performance that rang the most alarms. Liverpool missed a plethora of chances to make the game safe before Joe Willock’s late goal. It was their second successive 1-1 draw after being held at Leeds last Monday.
And on the evidence of recent weeks, Aldridge insists the fading champions are not good enough to finish among the elite.
The former Reds striker also reckons Klopp must look past his blind loyalty to Roberto Firmino by replacing the Brazilian this summer.
“Liverpool’s top-four rivals presented them with a chance to get back in the mix to qualify for next season’s Champions League. However, they confirmed that they are not good enough to take it.”
“You look at Salah, Mane and, especially, Firmino and wonder whether they can get back to their brilliant best,” Aldridge told Sunday World.
“I have said before that Firmino is no longer producing the goods to justify his place in the team. If ever a game highlighted Liverpool’s desperation to sign a top-quality goalscorer, we saw it Saturday.
“Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland would be the player I would go after this summer. But we don’t know whether Liverpool could get close to paying for that transfer unless they sell Salah or one of their other big stars.”
Aldridge added: “This isn’t a blip in form, a loss of form for a few players. It is much more than that – and Klopp doesn’t seem to have the answers with this set of players any more.”
Haaland doubts for Aldridge
Aldridge has previously stated his doubts that Liverpool or Manchester United could fund a deal for Haaland. He reckons the Norway star will likely sign for one of the game’s super-powers this summer were he to leave Dortmund.
“Haaland is the player every club wants this summer. But I suspect the traditional giants will be blown away to sign the hottest talent in football,” Aldridge said.
“The Borussia Dortmund striker is the real deal in every sense of the word. If a player of his calibre emerged over the last few decades, he’d go to Real, Barcelona, United or Liverpool.
“The financial cost of the last year is biting hard for football clubs at all levels of the game. As such, it might well reset the landscape of the game for years to come.
“Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea are funded very differently than the game’s established giants. With this in mind, I suspect a new era may be about to dawn.
“City’s success in appealing their two-year Champions League ban was a hammer blow to UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules. That verdict could be even more significant amid the ongoing pandemic.
“The owners of Liverpool and United have admitted they might not be able to compete for the best players. But Man City, PSG and Chelsea will see this as their biggest opportunity yet!