EVEN signing £115million-rated Jude Bellingham will not be enough to stop the downward spiral of Jurgen Klopp’s side.
If they can beat Real Madrid to the teenage England star’s signing, Bellingham will be a starter.
There are few more talented 19-year-olds in world football right now than the Brummie lad.
But the problem is, it is young talents trying to paper over the cracks of an ageing and creaking central midfield, with Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara looking a spent force.
Bellingham is more than likely to be chosen in central midfield by England manager Gareth Southgate ahead of Anfield captain Henderson for the World Cup.
Then again, Hendo, increasingly undermined by niggling injuries, is no longer an automatic choice for Reds chief Klopp.
The 32-year-old emerged from the bench 60 minutes into Saturday night’s pantomime defeat to Leeds.
But with or without him, Jesse Marsch’s desperate men not only walked through the Kop midfield, they also bullied them.
And remember, they had lost four games in a row and were winless in eight.
Liverpool had also fallen 1–0 to Nottingham Forest seven days earlier to make it back-to-back defeats to the Prem’s bottom two at the time.
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Henderson has been an incredible hard–working influence on his team throughout Klopp’s reign.
Thiago, 31, still has a great pass in him but is no longer dictating games on the Prem — a far more intense environment than the Champions League.
Fabinho, 29, was one of the best holding midfielders around but not for the first time this season, found himself pulled all over the place.
Yet all three are either showing their age or have become war-weary, mentally tired having been the fulcrum of Klopp’s side.
And all three, by right of their diminishing impact, should be gone or at least posted to the rear next season.
The problem is replacing them and unless owners Fenway Sports Group are prepared to spend very large sums, that job will be down to youngsters such as 19-year-old Harvey Elliott, Fabio Carvalho, 20, and 21-year-old Curtis Jones.
There will also be Tyler Morton, who turns 20 on Monday and is currently doing his apprenticeship with Blackburn, as Elliott did before him.
Yet while there is plenty of talent there, experience, know-how, getting the job done, whatever, is sadly lacking right now.
Alan Hansen was once left with egg all over his face after declaring in August 1995 that: “You can’t win anything with kids.”
The legendary Anfield skipper uttered those words after seeing Manchester United lose 3–1 to Aston Villa — before going on to win the title that season.
At an average age of 26, that squad was one of only two exceptions to the rule.
In 2005, an even younger Chelsea side containing Frank Lampard and John Terry also became champions.
As things stand, unless Klopp wants to see his side walked all over again, Elliott, Carvalho and Jones may have to be given a go.
Klopp apologised to the Kop after Crysencio Summerville got the last–gasp winner on the eve of his 21st birthday.
He accepted there were deficiencies and also pointed to an injury list that continues to deprive him of Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, along with Luis Diaz, Joel Matip and Diogo Jota.
But the real deficiency has been in strengthening his midfield.
A team that went within two games last season of an historic Quadruple is going backwards fast.
Thiago, at £27m, is the only experienced player brought in since Liverpool won the title in 2020.
Arthur Melo was signed on loan from Juventus on transfer deadline day last month.
But he arrived short of fitness, played a total of 13 minutes, and is out long–term with a thigh injury.
Klopp — or FSG — are guilty of a failure of forward planning.
And a team that went within two games last season of an historic Quadruple is going backwards fast.
Not that midfield is Klopp’s only problem as Joe Gomez gifted Rodrigo a fourth-minute opener with the kind of sloppy back–pass now all too evident within the rear guard.
Mo Salah equalised soon after but in a game that the old Reds would have taken by the scruff of the neck, their engine room malfunctioned badly again.
Klopp and the money men may not have seen it coming but his side are no longer “mentality monsters” — just mentally and physically shot.