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Liverpool will be champions; what happens next?

The Star Online logo The Star Online 6/4/2020 BY CRAIG WILKIE

THE English Premier League is in limbo; nobody knows when or how the league will resume. Liverpool are poised right on the brink of clinching a historic and long-awaited title. But for now they, like everyone else, must wait.

There is widespread agreement in the game that Liverpool are deserving champions and that the title should be theirs however the season is concluded. A 25-point lead at the top and only one league defeat all season demonstrate their dominance.

Premier League bosses and club officials met again last week (via video conference) for a further round of talks on everything from the timing of a possible resumption of football to collective cuts to players’ wages. a close up of a person © Provided by The Star Online

But all planning is currently taking place amid more unknowns than even Donald Rumsfeld conceived.

What we do know is that a clear commitment remains to completing the 2019-2020 season. Some of the reported proposals for doing so – matches played behind closed doors in one or two cities with squads kept in isolation throughout, or even a suggestion of decamping en masse to China to finish the season – go beyond clutching at distant straws.

The official statement released following the meeting said that the “season will only return when it is safe and appropriate to do so”, which I suppose is a relief that they’ve ruled out the safe and inappropriate option.

However it happens, I expect Jordan Henderson to get his well-washed hands on the Premier League trophy at some point in the not too distant future. It could easily be July though until the next fixture is played.

And hard though it is to plan for anything at the moment, Liverpool will already be well advanced in their planning for next season. Getting to the top is one thing; staying there is even harder.

Who knows what turmoil the current situation is going to cause in the transfer market? But just as the shops will reopen, so too will the transfer window. Players will be bought and sold, especially among the big clubs who should emerge relatively unscathed from the emergency of the epidemic.

Juergen Klopp appears to be contemplating some squad rebuilding: fringe players such as Xherdan Shaqiri, Adam Lallana, and Dejan Lovren have all been linked with Anfield exits and are unlikely to be part of the effort to retain the title in the next campaign.

Personally, I would keep Shaqiri and think he has been underused. He provides a creative spark and something different while appearing to be both willing and capable of doing so coming off the bench. That’s a valuable player to have in the squad.

It’s not only those who regularly find themselves on the bench who might leave. Liverpool’s form and success over the past couple of years means that some of their stars are highly prized by other clubs.

Sadio Mane is the one I imagine will attract the most interest during the next transfer window. He has been strongly linked with Real Madrid and not surprisingly as he has been Liverpool’s most important player this season.

As Klopp looks to refresh his squad, a large transfer fee received may be deemed worth it. Any bid for the most exciting young talents in Europe such as Jadon Sancho will have to be a large one.

Thinking about such moves and the sums of money involved makes it all the more disappointing that Liverpool have placed some of their non-playing staff on furlough so that the government will pay most of their wages during the crisis.

Liverpool can still afford to buy Sancho; they can still afford to pay all of their staff.

Craig Wilkie. Football Writer. Football Coach. Football Fan.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Star

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