Gary McAllister believes Liverpool are a "couple more additions" away from challenging at the top level again.

The Reds endured a disappointing campaign last season, finishing fifth and outside the Champions League places for the first time since Jurgen Klopp's debut 2015-16 season at Anfield.

Since then, Klopp has led Liverpool to both Premier League and Champions League glory while finishing runners-up in those competitions a combined four times during his tenure.

As they look to bounce back from only their second season without a trophy in the last five campaigns, McAllister believes Liverpool are only a couple of signings away from once again fighting for silverware.

McAllister said: "I think last season, when you look for the reasons why they were quite a bit behind Manchester City, I think there'll be loads of things you could come up with and they always seem to sound like they are excuses.

"But the way the club finished the season and the way the manager and the players got together to finish the season really well, even though they just missed out on the Champions League, I feel with the signings, I think everybody must feel really positive.

"I'm looking at the recruitment and looking at some of the players we have been linked with as well, with a couple more additions I'm sure Liverpool can be challenging at the very top."

The Reds have made it a priority to refresh their ageing midfield, with key men of recent years such as Jordan Henderson and James Milner allowed to leave Anfield while talents like Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai have been brought in to replace them.

McAllister is particularly enthused by the arrival of Mac Allister, who boasts a World Cup winner's medal after playing a key part in Argentina's triumph in Qatar last year.

"Yes, there's been some interesting new signings," McAllister added. "Well, first and foremost, they bring quality.

"You’ve also got the added bonus of Mac Allister being a World Cup winner, it brings the confidence that comes with that. Both are very, very talented young players. Younger players [who] are more vibrant but also with the ability to score a goal and make a goal.

"He [Mac Allister] is somebody who can play in two or three positions. But the big thing for me with Mac Allister when you watch him, he's a very good player when his team is in possession of the football, but more importantly, when you look at the other side of the game when you don't have the ball. I think that's where Mac Allister has caught my eye as well.

"He's not frightened of hard work; he works really hard for the team out of possession. You see a player that ticks a lot of boxes, and then the impressive thing is out of possession. That's a big thing."

Liverpool's spending for the window might not be over yet with the Reds reportedly keen on Southampton's Romeo Lavia, while Fabinho's impending move to Al Ittihad is set to bring in £40m.

McAllister has faith the club will give Klopp the financial power many fans feel his work has merited, explaining: "The recruitment is and has been pretty good over the last [seasons], certainly during the period with Jurgen.

"There's a new head of recruitment and I'm sure they're continually watching the market and they're continually watching who's available and who can be bought.

"I think when somebody of quality becomes available, I'm sure Liverpool will be there competing against everybody to try and bring the best players that are needed at Liverpool."

Liverpool great John Barnes is not convinced Trent Alexander-Arnold is at his creative best when used in the central role he adopted last season.

Having attracted criticism for a series of defensive mishaps as Liverpool failed to challenge Manchester City last term, Alexander-Arnold switched to a central role in the season's closing weeks.

Liverpool won seven of their last nine Premier League games to finish fifth, a run that started with Alexander-Arnold producing two assists in a 6-1 rout of Leeds United, drifting inside from his right-back position to a hybrid role.

Alexander-Arnold then played in midfield during England's wins over Malta and North Macedonia last month, but Barnes is not sure it will become his permanent position.

"It depends on the games, if you can dominate position," Barnes told Stats Perform. "Possibly when you're playing against City, you're not able to do that.

"Are we going to get a right-back and Trent plays in midfield, or [will he] move into midfield in possession? 

"When he moves into midfield, if you lose the ball, is he able to get back to the right-back position? It really depends on what they want and how they see that. 

"Trent probably produces more playing in the right-back position, in terms of the crosses he puts in for people to score. Playing in midfield, he still creates more from a right-back position. 

"We may look at that situation and say we haven't got a midfield player who's going to produce that kind of pass, but we lose what he has at right-back in terms of his crossing."

With Liverpool bolstering their midfield with the signings of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai, Barnes believes there may no longer be a need for Alexander-Arnold to play centrally.

"I don't necessarily feel that Trent creates more goalscoring opportunities playing in that role. But once again, it really depends on necessity," he added.

"Now that we have the midfield players we have, I'd be surprised. We may still do it on the odd occasion, but I think that was more out of necessity than anything else."

Former Liverpool midfielders Lucas Leiva and Gary McAllister, however, believe Alexander-Arnold has the quality to be a good option in either position.

"I think Trent showed that he's got the quality to play in midfield," Lucas said. "As a full-back, you have a little more time on the ball because in midfield you're always under pressure.

"But Trent has the capacity to play in both positions, which is very good. That gives another option to Jurgen [Klopp], depending on the game and depending on the system.

"For sure, he is capable of doing that. I'm looking forward to it also because every year, Trent is improving and getting better and better. He's a world-class player but he's still very young and coming into midfield shows another improvement from him."

McAllister echoed Lucas' thoughts, adding: "He's got the ability and has got such an amazing range of passing, first and foremost.

"But I'm sure Jurgen is going be very careful not to take away his ability to get high and wide to deliver crosses for the forwards.

"Being able to adapt with Trent in two or three different positions is a massive bonus for Jurgen. I thought it was really exciting watching him come off the side.

"I thought he was outstanding and it did marry in with fact that Liverpool finished the season really well. He hit a dozen passes that nobody else in the league could hit."

John Barnes is unconvinced the influx of star talents into the Saudi Pro League will necessarily grow Saudi Arabian football on the world stage.

Cristiano Ronaldo's mid-season arrival at Al-Nassr after the Qatar 2022 World Cup marked the start of a dramatic influx of major players joining clubs in Saudi Arabia's top league.

Karim Benzema, N'Golo Kante and Roberto Firmino are among those who have made the move to the Saudi Pro League, where lucrative contracts have tempted several high-profile players.

Liverpool legend Barnes is not sure the competition's aggressive recruitment will improve their position, pointing to the past failures of the Chinese Super League and Saudi Arabia's own strong international record.

"Football has always been big all over the world, since the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s," he told Stats Perform. "Now, because of the media attention you're looking at what's going on in Saudi Arabia.

"10 years ago, people went to China, and now they're going to Saudi Arabia. But once again, like America, just getting some retired players, or players who want to go for the money to go there may not be as good.

"It's more to make the statement of being able to attract superstar players there. That's not necessarily going to grow the league and Saudi Arabia has been doing well internationally anyway.

"They qualified for the World Cup, they were the only team to beat Argentina. Once again, that's very similar to what goes on in America.

"If ex-players or players coming towards the careers want to make a lot of money, they do that. That doesn't necessarily impact the local football."

Fellow former Liverpool player Steven Gerrard is another who has made the move to the Saudi Pro League, to manage Al-Ettifaq, while Jordan Henderson is also expected to join him there.

Henderson's reported move has led to a mixed reception on Merseyside, but Gary McAllister – another former Liverpool player – believes Gerrard should be admired for stepping out of his comfort zone.

"I think Steven was close [to] a couple of jobs in the UK, and they didn't quite land for him," he added. "There was an opportunity, and the club obviously wanted him strongly.

"He's made the decision to go and have a go. I think that's something that you've got to admire. He is going to go there, and it's going to be different, it's a new adventure for him.

"But he's back in the game, and that's what he wanted to do. He wanted to get back in the game. There weren't the avenues here or across Europe. He's made the decision, and he's gone for it."

McAllister believes Saudi Arabia will continue to push and grow its sporting portfolio, but acknowledges there is a long way to go for their football system to catch up with Europe.

"Over the past 10 years, Saudi has gone big and has been able to persuade Formula One to go there," he added. "All the big heavyweight championship bouts have been brought there.

"Obviously, what's happened recently with [LIV] golf, they want to be involved in world sport. I don't think it's going to go away, I think they'll continue to try and invest in all sports right across the board.

"[But] there's a long way to go for other countries to try and take away the power of some of the great clubs that have existed for a long time.

"The game is new in Saudi, so it'll take a long time before they can actually match what happens across Europe and in South America, and even in MLS."

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