Their centre back is Bambi on ice.
Their goalkeeper is a hologram.
That wasn’t even the Liverpool of old, that was the Liverpool of last season.
Not anymore. They have Virgil van Dijk. And they have Alisson.
Many scoffed at their astronimical prices. How dare they? How could they?
One remains a world-record fee for their respective position, the other trumped only by Chelsea and Kepa Arrizabalaga.
But the biggest compliment to both players is that barely anyone is mentioning their price tags now.
Football has a tendency to produce pleasing symmetrical narratives.
At the same stage last season, Philippe Coutinho stole the show with a hat-trick as Liverpool clinched qualification to the Champions League knockout stages.
A year on, with the same prize up for grabs, the two players acquired directly from Coutinho’s £145m sale to Barcelona made the big difference against Napoli.
The Reds occasionally miss the Brazilian’s craft and guile but there’s no denying, with Van Dijk and Alisson, in tow they’re a far better collective unit than 12 months ago.
During Liverpool’s busiest and boldest period of the season, Alisson has made three world class, points-salvaging saves in four games.
“If I knew Alisson was this good I would have paid double,” Jurgen Klopp said after his match-winning stop from Milik, a save that set to be worth £11m in prize money.
Last season Liverpool clinched a top-four finish despite having relegation standard goalkeepers between the sticks. The stats don’t lie.
Now they boast a clutch keeper who they can rely on rather than crumbling, like Loris Karius did, when the stakes are high.
As for Van Dijk, has impact cannot be understated.
Since his arrival Liverpool have conceded 16 goals in 31 Premier League games. Last night’s 1-0 win took their tally to 15 clean sheets in their last 18 home games.
Everyone around him – from Joe Gomez to Andy Robertson to Joel Matip – has grown with the Dutch man mountain for company.
That’s what you get for paying the big bucks; a domino effect of confidence breeding right from the last line of defence.
When weaknesses are that blatant and that glaring – yes, I am talking about you, Man United – why dither around?
Liverpool’s scouting department identified Van Dijk and Alisson as their prime targets years ago and refused to relinquish when all hope looked lost.
United must take a leaf from their book.
They’ve reportedly been quoted an eye watering £90m for Kalidou Koulibaly, but the Napoli star looked every inch a world beater last night.
Koulibaly has the capacity to seemingly appear everywhere and the Liverpool front three will be seeing him in their nightmares for weeks.
If Van Dijk can transform this Liverpool side to such an extent in just 12 months, imagine the effect Koulibaly could have at Old Trafford?
Even Phil Jones might start to act like a normal human being.
Liverpool have identified their flaws and addressed them emphatically.
Man City did the same, buying three full backs in one summer to enhance Pep Guardiola’s system.
United are getting left behind, papering over the cracks rather than ripping up the blueprint and starting again.
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- Why is it taking Liverpool so long to solve their most glaring issue?
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