Around Europe across the weekend domestic seasons came to a close. Did you see Lazio v Inter? What a finish that was. Italian footy hasn’t felt this exciting in ages. Of course Juventus will probably win the next three titles, but at least there is plenty going on.
In Spain they said goodbye to Andres Iniesta in a way completely un-befitting of the man. Class, subtlety, humility…none of those were on display at the Nou Camp last night. Instead we got loud music, moody lights and smoke cannons. I was half expecting four Real Madrid players to come on WWE style and smash him with a steel chair. But when the DJ realised it wasn’t Madison Square Garden and shut up it was actually quite nice. And the pictures of the Barca legend alone on the pitch, in an empty stadium, taking it all in, are rather beautiful.
But as always London tried to steal the show. A Royal Wedding/FA Cup Final day combination couldn’t be more British if it tried. It was even sunny! Of course the football turned out to be disappointing and the Americans ended up stealing the show in the wedding, but what can be more British than that?
Of course there is one more game in the European calendar. You might have heard a few Scousers talking about it. But seasons closing and transfer windows opening is a reminder that summer is upon us and the time of year where squads are reshuffled and hopefully improved comes now. Jurgen Klopp might not want to talk about it, and most Liverpool fans might be thinking of little else than Kyiv, but behind the scenes people at Anfield will already be thinking and talking about how they can be better next season.
In reality transfer targets will have long been identified and negotiations progressing.
It was notable that as the French season came to a close at the weekend, those commentating on the Lyon game seemed certain that Nabil Fekir will be moving to Anfield in the summer. He certainly acted like a man saying goodbye when he was substituted – or was it just tara for the summer? In Mersyside the feeling seems to be that there is still work to be done on the transfer, but you can certainly see how he would fit in with Liverpool’s style. His versatility, quality and ability to kick the ball really hard at the goal will all be most welcome.
It looks less good news regarding long term midfield target Jorginho. Liverpool are big fans of the Napoli player, but so to are Manchester City and they are really good at football and have loads of money. Making them about as attractive as David Beckham at a royal wedding. Jorginho’s agent seems fairly sure the move to the Etihad will happen. And to be fair, he should know. So Liverpool will have to look elsewhere. Especially when Emre Can finally announces he is leaving. Honestly I’ve had relationships shorter than this break up. Just go Emre, no one is really arsed anymore.
Aside from a new forward and midfielder the big question remains the goalkeeper. Ask any Liverpool fan in January and they’d have sold the lot of them and replaced them with anyone with arms. But since then Karius has been great and Roma have decided they want about a billion pounds for Alisson, so it leaves Liverpool in a bit of a conundrum. Do we stick or twist? If you look at where Liverpool have dropped points this season, it has been a lack of outfield options, rather than goalkeeping errors, that have cost points.
So do you spend such a large chunk of your summer budget on a position that hasn’t been an issue? Or fear that a few good months doesn’t make a great ‘keeper? We’ll have to wait and see. But Liverpool have replaced heroic Champions League ‘keepers before. Just ask Jerzy Dudek.
What is sure is that Liverpool are a more exciting proposition to any footballer than they were 12 months ago, and we have this Champions League run to thank for that, whatever happens in the final. But supporters and the current squad are desperate to win. The city is filling up with flags and supporters from elsewhere who want to experience a Champions League final in Liverpool if they can’t in Kyiv. One more push red men. Win the European Cup for me.