Liverpool willing to take the same risk as last season
Milner as a left-back last season came as a massive surprise, now the stop gap method is back with Milner in midfield.
Transfer windows are becoming a bit of an issue for Liverpool; instead of actually paying up hefty fees for quality targets, the phrase 'like a new signing' is getting batted around like a corky as Jurgen Klopp continues to work from within.
For the Reds, the whole of last summer consisted of continuous links to left-backs from all over the world, some with the quality to play for Liverpool and others, well, who could just play left-back. With the under performing Moreno under huge scrutiny, Liverpool just needed a left-back better than Moreno.
This apparently appeared too big of a task for the notorious Liverpool transfer committee and in the end, no left back was purchased, so it was down to utility man James Milner to fill the void and he became 'like a new signing' as he filled in at left-back; a phrase Liverpool fans are now all too familiar with. Fast forward a year, and after an average season at best for James Milner, Liverpool have signed a left-back in Andrew Robertson.
As soon as the Premier League season had finished and Liverpool had confirmed a place in the Champions League qualifiers, transfer talk had already begun. It was clear Liverpool were targeting a centre-back, a left back, a centre midfielder and a winger, but so far only a winger (Mohamed Salah) and a left back (Andrew Robertson) have been acquired. Progress is looking likely to be made in the pursuit of a certain centre-back after a transfer request but what happened to the chase for a central midfielder?
The plan at the start of the window was clearly Naby Keita or nobody for Liverpool as they had as many as two reported bids rejected for RB Leipzig's main man. That pursuit ended after long drawn out negotiations failed to make any breakthrough, leaving Liverpool empty handed and with no back up target. That was it.
With the squad that ended last season, maybe this news wouldn't have been so bad. However, the sales of Kevin Stewart and Lucas Leiva leave Liverpool with very thin squad in midfield and for a team that is competing on four fronts next season, the lack of depth simply isn't good enough.
The Reds need reinforcements in midfield and it is looking increasingly unlikely that they are not going to get them. The hope for most Reds was that Alberto Moreno would join the list of departures at Anfield, however, the need for squad players has saved his skin for now.
Jurgen Klopp was jubilant and full of praise for his current squad in his post match press conference after his side's final pre-season game in Dublin against Athletic Bilbao. He implied that he would have no issues if there were no more new signings and that overall, his current squad is good enough to compete across four competitions.
The German referred to Milner as a "new midfielder" and described Moreno as "100% back". The quotes came as a shock to many as Moreno has been linked with a move away from Anfield the whole summer and Milner was thought to be competing with Robertson for the left-back position.
It's not all bad for Liverpool though as Jurgen Klopp has a track record of working within his resources and he proved that last year by guiding arguably the worst squad in the top six to a fourth place finish. He will be hoping that he can work some magic this season as well and progress further in both the league and cup competitions.
So what are the similarities to last season?
The Reds are once again using a stop gap method in the hope that better options become available next summer, and once again, James Milner appears to be the man to fill the role. Liverpool may not have signed a new midfielder, but in Klopp's eyes, they've got one in Milner.
With the reported £48m release clause in Naby Keita's contract set to be activated next summer, Liverpool will be hoping this method will be good enough to progress and then hopefully Keita will join next summer. It is a risky method and nothing can be guaranteed but the Reds will take hope from the fact that it worked last year.
It's not been the summer Liverpool fans were both promised and wanted, but only time will tell whether there's method to the madness.