When Jurgen Klopp first arrived on Merseyside, Roberto Firmino was one of the pillars he decided to build around. The Brazilian was approaching his peak years of performance as a player and he was naturally suited to executing an intense brand of football.
Firmino was the first piece of Klopp’s spine at Anfield. Everything in the final third revolved around his skill set and, in January 2018, the Reds added the second piece in Virgil van Dijk.
Arriving for a club-record fee, the Dutchman quickly established himself as Liverpool’s most capable defender. He dramatically strengthened the centre of the team’s backline.
Six months later, Klopp added the final two pieces of his puzzle, signing Fabinho and Alisson Becker to complete the spine of his side.
Since then, the Reds have achieved new levels of consistency. With Firmino, Fabinho, Van Dijk and Alisson acting as a base through the middle of the field, Liverpool have accumulated more than 90 points in the Premier League on three separate occasions.
But with those players gradually ageing, there is enough evidence to suggest Klopp is steadily constructing a new spine behind the scenes.
Firmino and Van Dijk are both 30 now, and Fabinho is 28. Alisson is also 29 but, given the typical career of a top goalkeeper, it is reasonable to suggest that he won’t be replaced any time soon.
This summer, the Reds acquired the services of Darwin Nunez. The Uruguayan striker is more in the mould of a striker than Firmino and considering he’s just 22, he could lead Liverpool’s line for the next decade.
On top of his £64m move, Ibrahima Konate was added to the squad 12 months earlier having signed from RB Leipzig. The 6ft 4in centre-back experienced a strong debut campaign in England, showcasing his ability to combine pace with an imposing physical presence at just 23 years of age.
Klopp’s next spine is almost complete, with Alisson, Konate and Nunez waiting to discover who the midfield version of themselves will be.
Recent reports have suggested that Liverpool are willing to wait until the summer of 2023 to land that player, with rumours hinting at Jude Bellingham as the club’s top target.
Still just 18, the Borussia Dortmund starlet has bags of experience under his belt having performed in the Bundesliga and Champions League for the past two years, while also making 41 appearances in the Championship at former club Birmingham City.