Liverpool Keep or Dump: Salah, Van Dijk, Nunez to move on?

This is a big summer at Liverpool because so much has changed. It’s not just Jurgen Klopp moving on after nearly nine seasons, but also at the very top of the club, with Michael Edwards and Julian Ward returning and Richard Hughes coming in as sporting director. Edwards, previously sporting director, comes back as chief executive of football, while Julian Ward, who succeeded Edwards as sporting director, is now technical director for all of Fenway Sports Group (FSG), Liverpool’s owner.

It’s not just a question of titles, either. Ward and Edwards were hailed as the architects of some of the club’s most successful transfer campaigns, offering the yin to Klopp’s yang. When they left, the power shifted to the manager, and with Klopp gone and a comparatively inexperienced Arne Slot coming in as manager, it feels as if this is partly a re-balancing.

FSG were willing to put up all or part of the club for sale not long ago, selling a minority stake to Dynasty Equity in September, and some will conclude that is a sign they want to avoid big transfers and look for value instead. That may be true, but there is definitely room to invest while staying within profit and sustainability rules (PSR) given the club has basically operated at breakeven in the past few seasons.

They might need that room, too. There is a ton of uncertainty in this squad, starting with the three players who become free agents in less than a year: Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Salah and Van Dijk — given their service to the club — will likely be given plenty of latitude and the power to make their own decisions. Alexander-Arnold is more intriguing, given the other two are well into their 30s. He’s just 25, he has had his ups and downs, he’s the local kid made good and optics matter. And yet, for him to be most effective, the system has to cater to him.

Defensive midfield is also a major question mark, and while there’s plenty of depth in some roles, there’s far less in others. And, of course, any decision has to be made with Slot’s preferences and style of play in mind. He shares some of Klopp’s outlook on football, but there are also significant differences.

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Editor’s note: This is the third in this year’s series, Keep or Dump, over the coming weeks on which players to keep, extend and move on from for all the top clubs in the Premier League and Europe. Find the Man City version here and the Arsenal version here.


KEEP/DUMP GROUND RULES

Remember: This is our assessment of what we think the club should do, player for player, with the squad at their disposal. It’s not what we think they will actually do, though sometimes the two will align. That said, we take into account what we know of the club, coaching staff and player preferences, as well as their financial situation and any other factors that we think will impact personnel moves.

Where we disagree, or where we think our rationale is worth explaining, we’ve noted below.


GOALKEEPERS

Alisson (31 years old, contract expires in 2027)

Verdict: Keep

Caoimhín Kelleher (25, 2026)

Ogden: He’s an exceptional backup who deserves more than the wages he’s getting as a reserve keeper. But extending him means giving him “starter money,” and you can’t do that when you have a starting keeper like Alisson who will be around a while.

Marcotti: He played quite a bit this year with Alisson’s injury, but prior to that, it was 21 appearances in five years. He’s 25 now, and you assume he wants to play regularly. He’s highly rated, but it’s going to be a tricky summer. There are only 20 starting keepers jobs in the Premier League and maybe another 20 across Europe that pay Premier League wages. Many of those aren’t going to be open, and we think another top keeper who’s currently backup, Aaron Ramsdale, will be on the market as well.

Verdict: Move on

Adrián (37, 2024)

Marcotti: The only scenario where he stays is if Kelleher moves on and you give him an extra year to be third choice. But reports are that he’s going to leave as he wants to play a few more years before he retires, and you can understand why.

Verdict: Move on

DEFENDERS

Trent Alexander-Arnold (25 years old, contract expires in 2025)

Ogden: Figure out what he’s worth to the club in terms of how Slot can use him, and then make him a firm offer. If he dithers and threatens to let his contract run down, then move him. You have Conor Bradley coming through anyway, who is a more traditional right-back.

Marcotti: He gives you so much with his passing, set pieces and creativity, you figure there has to be a way to fit him into the team. Maybe there’s a way to put him at right-back in a scheme where his defensive deficiencies aren’t so glaring, or maybe he fits into central midfield, where he played coming through the ranks.

You have to defer to Slot, but also not overcommit in terms of contract. And, I think, be open to offers if they come in, realising that with a year left on his deal, he will have a ton of leverage.

Verdict: Keep and extend, but listen to offers

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2:27

Why Liverpool have a ‘huge call’ to make on Alexander-Arnold’s future

Mark Ogden and Gab Marcotti debate Trent Alexander-Arnold’s future at Liverpool under Arne Slot.

Ibrahima Konaté (24, 2026)

Ogden: His level dropped a bit in the second half of the season, but he’s a phenomenal defender. And given Van Dijk’s age and contract situation, you have to give him a long-term deal.

Verdict: Keep and extend

Andy Robertson (30, 2026)

Ogden: You obviously keep him, but he needs to prove his fitness first, especially since he’s now 30. Give it six months and then decide in January whether you’re going to extend.

Marcotti: Sure, he has had injuries and because he relies on his athleticism, that’s going to be a concern. But he has been such a loyal servant to the club that I think it’s important to send a message about continuity. Extend him by a year and if you’re not happy, look to shift him next summer. At least that way, you retain his transfer value somewhat and an extra year won’t make a difference.

Verdict: Split between keep/do not extend, and keep/extend a year

Joe Gomez (2, 2027)

Verdict: Keep

Virgil van Dijk (32, 2025)

Marcotti: I think we can be grown-ups here. He’s coming off a productive season, but he’s 33 this summer and the second-highest paid player at the club after Salah. See what Slot says, but if you sit down with Van Dijk and tell him that, at best, you can give him a one-year deal if he’s fit and happy in January, I doubt he’s going to sulk. He’s a professional. If he’s happy, he’ll stay, if not he’ll leave as a free agent. It’s not as if by offering him to other clubs now, at his age, you’re going to get much back.

Verdict: Keep, but do not extend

Kostas Tsimikas (28, 2027)

Ogden: Time to cash in while you still can. You’ll get at least £10 million for him.

Marcotti: Unless he wants to move or there’s a left-back Slot is desperate to bring in, I see no reason to move him on. He’s different from Robertson, and I think he’s a good pro.

Verdict: Split between moving him on and keeping him

Conor Bradley (20, 2027)

Verdict: Keep

Jarell Quansah (21, 2027)

Verdict: Keep

Joël Matip (32, 2024)

Verdict: Move on

Rhys Williams (23, 2026, on loan at Aberdeen and Port Vale)

Marcotti: He has been very unlucky with injuries and has hardly played in the past 18 months. Get him fit and see if he can start again elsewhere on loan.

Verdict: Loan out

Sepp van den Berg (22, 2026, on loan at Mainz)

Marcotti: He started all season long at Mainz and showed he can be a solid top-flight player. I think you get input from Slot here. If he thinks he can be useful as a fourth central defender, keep him around and extend his deal. If not, move him — he could bring in upward of £10m — before he enters the final year of his deal.

Verdict: Move on

Calvin Ramsay (20, 2027, on loan at Preston North End and Bolton Wanderers)

Ogden: Another player, like Williams, who has been unlucky with injuries. He has been out for most of the past two seasons. He’s still young and was highly rated, so the best thing you can do is get him fit and then send him on loan.

Verdict: Loan out

Nathaniel Phillips (27, 2026, on loan at Celtic and Cardiff City)

Ogden: Had his moment at Liverpool a few years ago — and he’ll always have that Cruyff turn in the penalty box at San Siro — but he has shown he’s a Championship player. If you can’t find anyone to take him on a permanent move, then loan him out.

Verdict: Move on

MIDFIELDERS

Dominik Szoboszlai (23 years old, contract expires in 2028)

Marcotti: He has played further forward in the past, though at Liverpool he has been mainly a midfielder. Depending on what the personnel look like, Slot may want to use him on the wing.

Verdict: Keep

Alexis Mac Allister (25, 2028)

Marcotti: One thing worth mentioning is that he played a chunk of the season in defensive midfield. He can be effective there, but it’s clearly not his position and, presumably, it’s not what he was signed to do.

Verdict: Keep

Curtis Jones (23, 2027)

Ogden: Came close to a move to Aston Villa a couple of years ago, but he has taken his chance at Anfield and now is in the England squad. He’s the type of versatile, committed player Slot will need this season.

Verdict: Keep

Harvey Elliott (21, 2027)

Verdict: Keep

Ryan Gravenberch (22, 2028)

Verdict: Keep

Wataru Endo (31, 2027)

Verdict: Keep

Stefan Bajcetic (19, 2027)

Ogden: He’s a really good player and still very young. Last year should have been a big year for him, but he missed most of it through injury. If he can regain his fitness and continue to grow, he solves the central midfield problem.

Verdict: Keep

Fábio Carvalho (21, 2027, on loan at RB Leipzig and Hull City)

Marcotti: He’s still young and I’m not sure you give him up now, even though he didn’t make the grade at Anfield in two years and struggled in his six-month loan at RB Leipzig (though he did better at Hull). I’d give it another shot before moving him on.

Ogden: You need to think about raising some money and he can maybe bring in £10m.

Verdict: Split between loaning out and moving on

Thiago Alcantara (33, 2024)

Marcotti: Great player on his day, but hampered by injuries at Liverpool, just like much of his career.

Verdict: Is moving on as club didn’t extend his contract

Bobby Clark (19, 2028)

Ogden: Very good player who did well when given the opportunity. Presumably, Liverpool won’t have as many injuries this coming season, so best to loan him out and let him mature.

Verdict: Loan out

FORWARDS

Luis Díaz (27 years old, contract expires in 2027)

Ogden: He may be Liverpool’s most important player after Salah.

Verdict: Keep

Darwin Núñez (24, 2028)

Marcotti: Unless Slot is a big fan — who did play with a comparable center-forward at Feyenoord in Santiago Giménez — and there are takers at a decent price, you move him on, especially if Salah stays. Forty-one league starts and 20 league goals over two seasons tells its own story.

Ogden: Liverpool overpaid — he cost a club-record transfer fee of £85m from Benfica — but Klopp really wanted him and the club backed the manager. It hasn’t worked out. He’s OK. He makes things happen, but he’s just not Liverpool-level. Saying all that, someone will take him, believing they can turn him around.

Verdict: Move on

Diogo Jota (27, 2027)

Verdict: Keep

Cody Gakpo (25, 2028)

Ogden: Really, this one is Slot’s decision since he will know him from the Eredivisie. He’s a versatile player and that may suit Slot’s style. And he performed better toward the end of the season, though there’s still work to do. I doubt you’ll get a big fee if you move him on and it has only been 18 months.

Marcotti: I would tend to agree. The only thing I’d say is if you can’t shift Núñez, you may have more luck with Gakpo just because he can play different positions.

Verdict: Keep, but listen to offers

Mohamed Salah (31, 2025)

Ogden: He has earned the right to decide for himself, but I’d make it clear there’s no talk of an extension — certainly not on the salary he’s on now — until later in the season. And that may suit him too: since he has only ever worked under Klopp, he might want to see how he gets on with Slot. But you certainly don’t panic and throw a long-term contract at him. That said, Liverpool can’t afford to lose him and Klopp in the same summer.

Marcotti: This was supposedly a down year for him and he still scored 18 league goals and had 11 assists, one of only five players to hit double figures in both categories in the league. He’ll be turning 33 when his contract is up, and I think he knows that, at best, he’ll get a one-year extension. And he might choose to wait and see, maybe he wants to go elsewhere on a free next summer.

Verdict: Keep

Ben Doak (18, 2027)

Marcotti: He’s highly rated, but with so many senior forwards at the club, getting him minutes is going to be tough. You could keep him around, a bit like Manchester City did with Phil Foden, but I think it makes more sense to loan him out and let him grow.

Verdict: Loan out


OVERALL VERDICT

There is a lot on Michael Edwards’ plate, starting with the transition to Slot. This is part of the reason why we recommend staying put with Van Dijk and Salah, even if it means running the risk of losing them on a free next summer.

Alexander-Arnold is a more impactful call because in transfer terms he’s going to be substantially more valuable than the two veterans. There’s a lot of uncertainty, which is why we disagree a bit on what to do, other than the fact that there are long conversations to be had between Alexander-Arnold, Slot and the club. Alexander-Arnold would fetch a considerable transfer fee, but Liverpool can actually put together a decent transfer budget even without him moving.

Kelleher, Núñez and possibly Tsimikas and/or Carvalho can probably bring in something in the £70m to £80m range, maybe more. Between that and the added Champions League income, they ought to be in good shape to secure a top-drawer defensive midfielder.

That said, they may have the guy they need in-house. If Bajcetic stays on the development arc he was on pre-injury, they may well feel they don’t need to upgrade that position and, between him, Endo and occasionally Mac Allister, they have other solutions in that role. There is so much money tied up in Núñez given his enormous transfer fee that this will obviously be another impactful call. We think he should be moved on, perhaps with the club taking a run at Santiago Giménez, who did very well for Slot at Feyenoord.

Even if a replacement doesn’t come in, Liverpool would still have a deep corps of attacking players: Salah, Gakpo, Diaz, Jota, plus Elliott and Szoboszlai who have operated in attack (and done so very well) in the past.

More broadly, if Edwards and his team decide to do some wheeling and dealing, there are other areas of the pitch that offer opportunity. We look at the midfield and see three players such as Elliott, Jones and Gravenberch who, effectively, were backups last season. All three are young and gifted, but you wonder how many minutes you can get them and also whether they will develop into “very good,” but not necessarily “great” players.

With the midfield ranks possibly being swelled by the arrival of a defensive midfielder and maybe Alexander-Arnold too, moving one of them on in exchange for a sizeable transfer fee might unlock more funds to bring in another top player, possibly of the calibre that Van Dijk and Salah have been.

It’s just a thought, but it illustrates the canvas of opportunities available. Klopp is gone and Liverpool — for better or worse — are going to be a different club going forward.