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Arne Slot’s Liverpool in-tray: The key tasks facing Jurgen Klopp’s successor at Anfield

With Arne Slot confirmed as Liverpool's new manager, we run through the most pressing tasks awaiting Jurgen Klopp's successor when he arrives

Liverpool football manager Arne Slot

Arne Slot has been confirmed as Liverpool’s next manager, with the Dutchman leaving Feyenoord to fill Jurgen Klopp’s sizeable shoes at Anfield.

Klopp’s glittering reign on Merseyside did not quite end the way Liverpool’s supporters would have wanted, with a miserable April seeing their Premier League title hopes slip away.

Running out of steam at the vital moment, Liverpool perhaps showed they remain in a state of transition, some way away from being able to best Manchester City and Arsenal through a gruelling Premier League season.

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Slot takes over at an exciting but potentially hazardous time, with plenty of big decisions to be made during his first summer at the helm.

Here, we run through the most pressing tasks awaiting Slot when he arrives in England.

Step up midfield rebuild

Klopp got Liverpool’s midfield rebuild underway last summer, recognising – perhaps a year too late – that it was time for Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner to move on.

In came Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Ryan Gravenberch and Wataru Endo, but there is still a nagging sense that something is missing in the Reds’ engine room.

Szoboszlai looked the real deal early on in 2023-24 and seems well-suited to the vertical style of passing Slot expects from his side.

Mac Allister, meanwhile, has surely been the most impressive of Liverpool’s midfield recruits, but protecting the back four is not the strong point of a player who has played as a 10 and an eight for Brighton and Hove Albion and Argentina.

Signing a truly elite defensive midfielder – or an up-and-coming prospect capable of growing into that role – should be on Slot’s checklist, with a lack of control characterising Liverpool’s matches this season. Klopp’s Reds made a habit of fighting back from behind but were not capable of the control displayed by City and Arsenal when it mattered most.

Expect to see more of Trent Alexander-Arnold stepping into midfield under Slot, and pairing him with a top-class enforcer could free him up to pick apart opposition defences. Fulham’s Joao Palhinha was previously mooted and could be targeted again.

Solve the Salah problem

Even before Mohamed Salah was involved in a high-profile bust-up with Klopp during April’s 2-2 draw with West Ham, speculation had been rife regarding his future.

While all the noises indicate Salah will remain at Anfield for the final year of his contract, potentially with the view to penning an extension, Slot must find a way of lessening Liverpool’s reliance on him.

Salah took his goal tally for the Premier League season to 14 on New Year’s Day as Liverpool beat Newcastle United 4-2, then managed just four further goals for the campaign, a trip to the Africa Cup of Nations and a troublesome hamstring injury halting his momentum.

Undoubtedly one of Liverpool’s all-time greats, Salah remains capable of sheer brilliance. However, with the Egypt captain turning 32 in June, whether he can carry an attack which hasn’t looked the same since Sadio Mane’s 2022 exit is questionable.

Even if Salah rejects interest from Saudi Pro League clubs to commit his medium-term future to Liverpool, he needs help – and Slot must find a way to rebalance a flawed frontline.

Make a decision on Nunez

If any of Liverpool’s attackers can be described as flawed, it’s Darwin Nunez. The Uruguay international’s all-action style and tendency to do the unexpected made him an instant hit with the Anfield masses, but is that really what Liverpool need?

Standing between Liverpool and the summit of English football are Pep Guardiola’s machine-like City team and an Arsenal side built in their image, both pictures of efficiency.

Nunez has his strengths; his value to a high-pressing side is clear, he can play either as a number nine or from the left flank and he is physically suited to the rough-and-tumble of the Premier League.

However, his finishing simply hasn’t improved in his two years with the club, and it’s doubtful if it ever will. Nunez missed 27 big chances in the Premier League in 2023-24 – second only to Haaland (34), who saw far more fall his way.

Liverpool won’t recoup anywhere near the Β£85 million they paid for Nunez last year in 2022, so we’re not suggesting they totally give up on him. However, we doubt whether he can ever be the main man, so a new number nine is needed.

Get the fans onside

There was never any doubt regarding Klopp’s connection with the Liverpool fanbase. From the moment of his 2015 appointment, he just seemed to get it.

In English football terms, the pressure to succeed at Liverpool is perhaps only matched by that surrounding Manchester United.

The Reds have always thought of themselves as different, and their managers are almost expected to have an immediate grasp of the city’s history and the ‘us versus the world’ mentality that pervades there.

Being a strong communicator unafraid of showing emotion – for better or for worse – helped Klopp win immediate favour at Anfield. By contrast, Erik ten Hag’s struggles in this area have not exactly helped him keep control of the noise at Old Trafford.

If Slot forges a positive connection with Liverpool’s fans, he will be rewarded with patience. A positive start to his reign would certainly help, as would a memorable Anfield night or two.

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Harry Carr

Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.