Liverpool missed out on the Premier League to Manchester City by one point but the Reds took the title race down to the wire.
Jurgen Klopp’s side did all they could to challenge the champions, pushing them to the limit on the final day of the season before a win over Wolves couldn’t clinch glory.
However the Reds boss will not be lingering in a title-loss hangover and Liverpool will already be planning their attack as they prepare to battle City again next season.
The Merseyside club may have been hot on City’s heels this term but Pep Guardiola has already taken his side to the next level with the signing of Erling Haaland.
Now it’s Klopp’s turn to tweak his squad to match his league rivals move for move. The manager has already started with the first signing through the door – 19-year-old Fabio Carvalho from Fulham for £7.7million – but more improvements are expected as the Reds prepare to hit the ground running in August.
Here, Sportsmail takes a look at the steps Liverpool could take as they strategise their plan of attack to take the reigning Premier League champions down.
Liverpool pushed Manchester City to the limit but Jurgen Klopp needs to plan for next term
Pep Guardiola’s side lifted their fourth Premier League trophy in five years on Sunday
City pipped the quadruple-chasing Reds to the title by one point in a dramatic season finale
Certainty over stars’ futures
Liverpool superstars Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are out of contract at the end of next season and the Reds cannot afford to have their futures at the club still uncertain heading into next season.
Mane was in firing form for Liverpool during the home stretch of the season but following the Reds’ Champions League defeat, he looks increasingly likely to make an Anfield exit this summer.
Bayern Munich are believed to be in pole position to snatch up the forward in the transfer window to replace Robert Lewandowski, who has stated his desire to leave the German side.
Liverpool stars Mohamed Salah (left) and Sadio Mane (right) are out of contract next June
The Senegalese is looking increasingly likely to leave Liverpool for Bayern Munich this summer
Meanwhile, Salah looked to have been affected by his ongoing contract saga with his form noticeably dropping off during the home stretch of the season as his situation dominated headlines.
The Egyptian has committed to the Reds for the 2022-23 season but is yet to be tied down to a new deal amid halting talks with the club.
And, Salah could reportedly make a shock move to a Premier League rival once his contract at Anfield expires, according to The Athletic.
With Roberto Firmino also entering the final year of his deal, the Reds were always said to be unlikely to agree new contracts with all three of their original attacking trident.
The Egyptian has committed to the Reds for the 2022-23 season but is yet to agree new terms
But with Mane one foot out of the door and Salah’s head filled with the prospect of a top-flight betrayal, Liverpool need to make a decision on his future or risk the uncertainty threatening not only Salah’s performance next season but also the squad’s.
If the star duo intend to make an Anfield exit this summer and the next, Liverpool also can’t afford to leave bringing in replacements until the end of next season.
An heir-apparent needs to be poised ready to take over to ensure the Reds remain at the top of their game and in reach of City.
Klopp has already begun building Liverpool 2.0 with the additions of Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota to an already stellar front line and the signing of 19-year-old Fabio Carvalho is a hint that the revamp is continuing.
But a clear replacement for Mane, who can play across the front three, could further steady the ship and settle the nerves on Merseyside ahead of their title challenge.
Liverpool have confirmed Fulham forward Fabio Carvalho will join the club this summer
Liverpool’s midfield isn’t exactly the youngest with a first choice three of Jordan Henderson and Thiago (31) and Fabinho (28).
However, the midfielders are certainly not letting their veteran status slow them down as Jurgen Klopp’s engine room is undoubtedly the beating heart of his side.
This has been highlighted when the Reds have taken a hit this season when Thiago and Fabinho have been ruled out through injury.
While Klopp has the benefit of calling on the likes of Naby Keita and Curtis Jones, they can’t quite match the level set by the first-choice trio.
Reds have taken a hit this season when Thiago (left) and Fabinho (right) have been ruled out
Furthermore, Liverpool looked set for a similar injury crisis to the previous season early on in the campaign – but this time in the middle of the park.
Injuries to Thiago, Harvey Elliott and Naby Keita gave Jones the chance to step up in October before he was also sidelined with a freak eye injury a month later, leaving the Reds looking pretty bare in the midfield department.
Reinforcements in midfield should be a guarantee in the summer and the Reds could undoubtedly benefit from an injection of young blood too.
Liverpool have been linked to 18-year-old Jude Bellingham but with Borussia Dortmund unlikely to sell after already losing Erling Haaland, Klopp will look to poach a similar target.
Hit the ground running
Liverpool clinched an extremely late third-placed finish the previous season and after their dramatic finale to the campaign it appeared they were still suffering a hangover at the beginning of the next.
Considering they managed to challenge City until the very last day of the season, Klopp’s side did not have the best start to the campaign.
The Reds dropped points in five of their opening 11 games – notably home draws to Chelsea and City and a shock defeat by West Ham in November.
The Reds dropped points in five of their opening 11 games, including a shock loss to West Ham
If this season has proven anything, it is that every point counts and Liverpool simply can’t afford to drop any, especially not at the beginning of the season when their legs are supposedly fresh.
The Reds have had a hectic run-in to the end of the term and were still in contention for four trophies. They made it harder for themselves at the beginning of the season by making them have to pick up three points in almost every game to ensure they stayed within reaching distance of City.
A better start to the next campaign would ease the pressure and help them establish a more dominant position at the top of the table – make City the chasers, not the chased.
Despite a bumpy start, the Merseyside club got themselves back on track with a six-game winning streak.
However, they hit another hurdle as that run came to an end with a 2-2 draw against Tottenham on December 19, followed by a 1-0 defeat by Leicester and another stalemate with Chelsea.
A finger could be pointed to those seven dropped points over that trio of games as the moment Liverpool lost the title.
Liverpool dropped a crucial three points against Leicester amid a trio of poor games
However, dropping points to sides that, on paper, they should have beaten such as Brighton and Brentford was also a huge contributing factor.
Drawing to the Seagulls from a 2-0 winning position and losing the lead twice to the Bees is not acceptable if Klopp wants to compete with Pep Guardiola’s winning machine.
For all the talk that Klopp’s men are ‘mentality monsters’, they needed to show their winning mentality to see every single game over the line.
Maintain ability to rotate
A huge strength of Klopp’s side this season has been his ability to rotate players.
However, with the departure of fringe player Divock Origi and an expected exit for Takumi Minamino the Reds could find themselves a man down.
Origi and Minamino may not be first-team regulars but they have been vital in Liverpool’s campaign.
The Japanese forward scored both goals in the 2-1 win over Norwich which secured Klopp’s first FA Cup quarter-final and bagged the equaliser against Southampton in his first league start of the season in their penultimate league game.
Divock Origi (left) and Takumi Minamino (right) have been crucial for Klopp’s squad rotation
Meanwhile, Origi leaves Anfield as a club cult icon, having chipped in infamously with critical goals – most notably in Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final comeback over Barcelona in 2019.
Klopp described them as ‘Ferraris in the garage’ and could miss their input if they want to challenge domestically and in Europe again.
Liverpool not only need to bring in new stars this summer but also players that can perform their part when called upon.
The Reds need to strengthen their squad depth, not lose it, if they want to catch City next term.
Get Jota firing
Diogo Jota had already netted 10 goals by the time Christmas rolled around, bagging his first in the opening game against Norwich.
However, since February his form has taken a slight dip, scoring just three times in 12 Premier League games.
The forward appears to have been affected by the arrival of Luis Diaz, who replaced the Portuguese and scored in the Reds’ comeback win in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Villarreal.
Since February Diogo Jota’s form has taken a slight dip, scoring just three in 12 league games
The Colombian has been a sensation since arriving at Anfield in the January transfer window, instantly looking at home in Klopp’s side with six goals in 25 appearances.
But the Reds boss needs both players firing with goals coming from all areas of the pitch essential to maintaining their winning ways – especially as the duo look set to replace Mane and Salah as the foundation to the front three.
Jota also needs to make the most of his team-mate’s creative flair by finishing off the chances Diaz provides, rather than feeling the pressure to compete for the spotlight with his fellow forward.