Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand believes Liverpool could struggle this season due to the club’s reliance on Mohamed Salah & Sadio Mane in an African Cup of Nations year, while he feels Gini Wijnaldum’s exit could unbalance the midfield.
The Reds put up a poor defence of their Premier League title last term as Jurgen Klopp’s side finished third and 17 points behind champions Manchester City.
While Salah’s stats actually improved last term, Mane struggled for form as the Reds struggled with injuries and bad home form.
Ibrahima Konate has arrived from RB Leipzig to improve the defence, while Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez have also returned to fitness in significant boosts for Klopp.
But the Reds have lost Wijnaldum to Paris Saint-Germain, while Ferdinand believes the January AFCON – which will see the likes of Salah and Mane missing for around a month – could prove costly for Liverpool.
Speaking about Wijnaldum’s exit, Ferdinand told the FIVE YouTube channel: ‘It’s massive. The legs, the energy, he was the engine in there.
The former England skipper then touched on the effect of AFCON on Liverpool’s squad.
‘You know what is it AFCON this year as well?
‘It’s AFCON so they’ll miss Mane and Salah at some point. Wow.
‘I think it’s a big year for Liverpool and I’m a bit concerned for them in a lot of ways. they’re relying on the same front three again.
‘Van Dijk and Gomez we don’t know how they’ll recover. Midfield is an important part. Their midfield was based on energy legs, intensity.
‘Yes they have quality but it’s not possession based. It was fast and up and at them.
‘It was about transition – losing the ball and retrieving the ball. Getting up and pressing teams. Can they do that now with the players they’ve got in there? Robertson is a big miss for Liverpool.’