COMMENT By Matt Farr
The summer transfer window will be an important occasion for all 20 Premier League sides, but for Liverpool it holds particularly importance.
Jurgen Klopp needs to strengthen in almost every area of his squad if he wants his Liverpool side to be a genuine Premier League title threat next season, as well as competing in Europe.
The defensive ranks are a particular area of concern, and while a central defender will likely be at the top of the agenda, Klopp should not underestimate the glaring need for a quality defensive midfielder.
Jordan Henderson and Emre Can both fall short of the required standard, and Liverpool should target one of these three defensive-midfielders to win the title next season.
The 27-year-old was branded a big time flop at Real Madrid, but looks the player of old following his return to Real Sociedad, and is now ready to make the big step again.
Illarramendi has been ever present for the La Liga outfit this term, making 31 appearances in all competitions, and boasts strong defensive attributes that could greatly benefit Liverpool.
Sitting in front of a back-four, the Spaniard can be the midfield pivot that Liverpool are currently lacking with his strong tackling and passing ability.
His industrious work rate and direct approach would match Klopp’s desired style, as he hunts down the ball and closes down opponents with haste.
Liverpool have acquired a large number of Southampton players in recent years, but if there is one Saints man they must snap up this summer, it is Oriol Romeu.
The 25-year-old has slipped under the radar as one of Southampton’s most reliable and most consistent performers this term, and has many of the answers Liverpool need.
Romeu has completed the most passes for Southampton this season (1229), according to Squawka, and is an immediate upgrade on Liverpool’s current options.
The former Chelsea man has also been deployed as a central defender during his career, which adds Klopp much-needed versatility.
AS Monaco boast some of Europe’s best emerging talents, and among them is Brazilian international Fabinho.
Adept as a defensive midfield or as a right back, the 23-year-old has starred for the French side this season, contributing 11 goals and five assists from 44 appearances.
His goalscoring contributing will be a flattering, albeit unrequired attribute, with Liverpool looking to increase the number of goals scored from midfield.
But it is his defensive competency that will be the main attraction, with tackling, concentration and positioning among his best attributes.
In other Liverpool transfer news, the Reds could be set to hand Manchester United a £7million transfer sum this summer.