Henderson, Balotelli, Benteke among players who could make Liverpool exits

Liverpool are in a rare position this summer; they must trim their squad rather than strengthen it. The starting XI needs to be improved, of course, but a lack of European football this season means that reducing a bloated playing staff must be a priority.

There will be a considerably higher number of moves away from Anfield than arriving transfers in the coming weeks, and it's not inconceivable that the club may yet turn a profit on their summer dealings. According to Jurgen Klopp, "It makes no sense to stay and be in the squad when you don't have a real opportunity to play." And with the Reds only playing one game per week this season, many players will find themselves in that very predicament.

So far, Liverpool have signed four players this summer, with a fifth -- Estonian defender Ragnar Klavan -- expected to put pen to paper soon. Others will arrive too; Newcastle's Georginio Wijnaldum is a target and Klopp still needs a left-back and a defensive midfielder.

But eight from last season's first team squad have already departed, too, the most significant losses being Kolo Toure, Martin Skrtel to Fenerbahce and Jordan Ibe to Bournemouth. The number set to follow suit and make Liverpool exits could stretch to double figures.


Of the team's goalkeepers, Adam Bogdan is the only one expected to leave permanently. Promising youngsters Danny Ward and Ryan Fulton have been loaned out to Huddersfield and Chesterfield, respectively, opening up room for new signing Loris Karius to battle it out with Simon Mignolet for the starting spot. Veteran Alex Manninger has been training with the club and, should he earn a contract, would provide experienced bench cover if needed.


The most vulnerable defender would appear to be Brad Smith. Klopp is on the hunt for another left-back to compete with Alberto Moreno, so any new arrival would push Smith out of the picture entirely. Andre Wisdom and Tiago Ilori's days also look to be numbered.

Jon Flanagan's future is less clear. He provides cover at both full-back spots and is a fan favourite due to his combative approach to the game. Having grown up in the shadow of Anfield and supported the club from the Kop since childhood, Flanagan is living his dream and will not give it up without a fight. However, with Joe Gomez close to a return despite pre-season injury setbacks and another left-back expected to arrive in the coming weeks, Flanagan may suffer due to a lack of fixtures this season. His name has been tentatively mentioned as part of a potential deal for Wijnaldum, and he may yet be a surprise departure unless he impresses Klopp in preseason.


It's further up the pitch, however, where there appears to be the biggest logjam of players in the squad. Klopp is in the market for at least one more midfielder -- perhaps even two -- which means that some of the current group will have to make way.

Joe Allen is the most obvious candidate, as he has failed to secure a regular starting position under Klopp and has just one year remaining on his current deal. No moves have been made to extend his contract, he'll be a wanted man after an excellent showing at Euro 2016 with Wales. Sevilla are one of a number of interested parties; beyond Allen, the Spanish club have also been linked with Luis Alberto, who spent the past two seasons on loan in his homeland with Malaga and Deportivo La Coruna and who appears to have no future on Merseyside.

Even if Allen did depart, Liverpool would still have too many senior midfield players. Emre Can and James Milner are safe, but there are question marks over Lucas Leiva and Jordan Henderson. Both are still needed as things stand, but should Klopp add another defensive midfielder, Lucas would surely be sent on his way.

Selling Henderson would be a contentious move; although he had a difficult time last season due to injury, he's a proven Premier League performer who has yet to reach his prime. But with Marko Grujic already on board and Wijnaldum possibly soon to join him, Henderson may find himself out of the starting XI. Should that happen, he's unlikely to want to stick around for a season on the bench. He'd certainly command a hefty fee if he did leave, and that could prove tempting for Klopp.

Liverpool need more variation in the three players who operate behind the striker, and new arrival Sadio Mane certainly provides that with his pace and goal-scoring threat. His arrival spelled the end for Ibe, and with Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino all part of Klopp's plans, it's going to be difficult for Lazar Markovic to find consistent minutes on the pitch, so he too may be on his way. As is the case with one or two others, though, a good preseason might increase his chances of sticking around.


Up front things appear quite straightforward. Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Danny Ings will battle it out for a place, while Mane and Firmino are both capable of leading the line if necessary. That means Mario Balotelli and Christian Benteke will be on their way. Moving Benteke should prove much easier, as he's still a valuable asset, whereas Balotelli might need to be given away, and even then Liverpool may need to subsidise any deal due to his high salary.

With so many players leaving and the manager insisting that he doesn't need "big name signings" Liverpool's balance sheet should look pretty healthy at the end of this window. Whether the team will, too, remains to be seen.