Arne Slot’s in-tray at Liverpool: Mohamed Salah’s future, Darwin Nunez’s finishing and defensive midfield transfer among Dutchman’s priorities at Anfield

Feyenoord’s Arne Slot has confirmed he will replace Jurgen Klopp as head coach at Liverpool; Dutchman will have long to-do list to build on Klopp’s tenure, with futures of Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold an immediate issue…

Image: Feyenoord's Arne Slot has confirmed he will replace Jurgen Klopp as head coach at Liverpool

Arne Slot is Jurgen Klopp’s successor at Liverpool – but what will be the priorities for the incoming head coach at Anfield?

After over eight years of Klopp’s reign, which has included Premier League and Champions League glory, Liverpool are entering a new chapter with Slot.

But arriving from Feyenoord, the Dutchman will have plenty of areas to address in his new role…

  • Slot announces Liverpool move as Klopp’s successor
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Secure futures of key men

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Gary Neville believes Liverpool talisman Mo Salah has ‘hit a brick wall’ at the club, and says it was unpleasant to see his sideline spat with manager Jurgen Klopp

While it might be down to chief executive of football Michael Edwards and new sporting director Richard Hughes to work out the nitty gritty of the contract details, dealing with the futures of three key men in the Liverpool squad will be an immediate priority for Slot.

Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold are Liverpool superstars and have been crucial figures in the success the club has had under Klopp. But all three are out of contract next summer.

It might seem unthinkable for Liverpool fans to lose any of that trio but that is the issue Slot must have a say on.

  • Gary Neville: Mohamed Salah has hit a brick wall at Liverpool

Salah, 31, could once again be subject to a big bid from Saudi Arabia. After his recent drop-off in form, could now be the time to cash in on the Egyptian?

Image: Mohamed Salah's returns for goals and assists have dropped off since New Year's Day, despite hitting more shots on target and clocking a higher xG per 90 minutes

Van Dijk turns 33 this summer. What would a renewal for him look like? Ultimately, Slot’s main role in this would be to convince these star players that the future is bright with him in charge and it is worth signing up for the journey – even if, in the case of Salah and Van Dijk, that might be on reduced terms to what they’re currently on.

Bridge the gap to Man City and Arsenal

Liverpool took their title push well into April and while that now appears to have tailed off, there is no doubt Klopp has left the club in a good place. Slot takes over Klopp’s Liverpool 2.0 on a firm footing. A third-place finish – if that’s what it ends up – and a Carabao Cup win which demonstrated the quality of the young talent coming through at the club, can be a launchpad.

But there is no escaping the fact Slot is going to face-off against two hugely powerful opponents in Arsenal and Manchester City. PSV have produced a near-perfect campaign in the Eredivisie to pull away from Slot’s Feyenoord but those are the standards he will have to get used to in the Premier League.

In recent years there has been no margin for error in England’s top flight and Slot will need to hit the ground running at the start of next season if he is to lead Liverpool into another title race next term.

Perhaps the biggest fix Slot could make to this Liverpool side is in the final third. Their finishing this season has held them back badly.

Darwin Nunez is the usual scapegoat on this topic and there is no escaping the fact he has the worst big-chance conversion rate of forwards who have had at least 10 clear cut chances this term. He’s missed 26 of his 32 big openings.

How does Slot get more out of Liverpool’s £85m investment?

But with Luis Diaz and Salah also ranking among the top 10 for big chances missed this season, there is a wider finishing problem at Liverpool.

Liverpool have the highest Expected Goals (xG) total in the Premier League this season. But underperform that figure, having scored 77 rather than their anticipated 79.5.

In contrast, Arsenal and Man City have scored 15 and 12 goals more, respectively, than their xG figures suggest. Their cutting edge has made a big difference.

Sign a top defensive midfielder?

Image: Jarrod Bowen breaks away from Wataru Endo

Liverpool’s overhauled midfield has been a big talking point this season, with Wataru Endo and Alexis Mac Allister sharing the duties of the holding role. But with Slot often using a double pivot in that area of the park and questions over whether Endo is a long-term solution for Liverpool in that department, an additional defensive midfielder seems like an obvious transfer target this summer.

That would free up Mac Allister to play in a No 10 role more akin to what he had at Brighton but perhaps also give Liverpool’s defence some more security – they have, after all, fallen 1-0 behind in 23 matches this season.

Galvanise the Liverpool fans

Image: Jurgen Klopp has enjoyed a unique relationship with the Liverpool supporters

Perhaps Slot’s most important task – and the most intangible – is to galvanise the Liverpool fans in a similar way to how Klopp did.

Slot cannot copy Klopp and no one would expect him to. The connection between the German and the Kop was a special and unique one. But in this time of transition, Slot will need to convince the supporter base that the path he his taking the club down is the right one to deliver success.

There will be bumps in the road, undoubtedly. And Slot and his players will need the Liverpool fans – and that famous Anfield atmosphere – at their backs to reach where they want to be.

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