Fourth-place finishers during Jurgen Klopp's first full season in charge at Anfield and now one step away from ending a two-year absence from the group stages of the Champions League, Liverpool have experienced a rather frustrating summer in the transfer window as they seek to piece together a squad capable of mounting a genuine title challenge.

The club-record £36.9m ($47.9m) deal to bring former Chelsea winger Mohamed Salah back to these shores looks to be money well spent and Under-20 World Cup star Dominic Solanke has already demonstrated serious potential since defecting from Chelsea for a fee that looks likely to be settled by a tribunal.

However, a hopelessly bungled pursuit of Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk - one that could yet be revived after a transfer request - and a failure to entice Bundesliga outfit RB Leipzig into parting company with vaunted midfielder Naby Keita has rather dampened expectations and left Klopp with further work to do in order to sufficiently strengthen his squad ahead of a return to European competition.

The shrewd and relatively cost-effective addition of Andrew Robertson from Hull City should provide a long-term solution to Liverpool's left-back problem, while the respective departures of Lucas Leiva, Kevin Stewart, Andre Wisdom and Alex Manninger will barely register.

The signing of Salah should mean that Philippe Coutinho retreats into a deeper role, but at this stage it remains to be seen if the influential Brazilian playmaker will remain on Merseyside beyond the end of the month as long-running speculation regarding a £120m switch to Barcelona continues to gather serious pace. Adam Lallana has also been ruled out for three months due to a thigh injury.

Last season

Premier League: 4th

FA Cup: Fourth round

EFL Cup: Semi-finals

Top scorer: Philippe Coutinho (14)

Manager - Jurgen Klopp

Jurgen Klopp
Jurgen Klopp replaced Brendan Rodgers as Liverpool manager in 2015 Ian Walton/Getty Images

Klopp's first full campaign at the helm has to be considered an overall success, with Liverpool improving their 2015-16 tally by 16 points and securing only a second top-four finish in eight seasons despite a turn of the year meltdown and several injury absences that threatened to undo all of their impressive early work.

Excellent at setting his team up to repeatedly take points off their top-six rivals and employing a breathless style of football that should only become more entertaining with Salah joining Mane in a potentially devastating three-pronged attack, the former Borussia Dortmund stalwart curiously came repeatedly unstuck when it came to trying to tactically outwit so-called lesser opposition.

Klopp has cut a consistently relaxed figure in public amid those struggles to land Keita and Van Dijk, in the latter case even going so far as to suggest that he does not need any more defenders. However, behind closed doors he will be only too aware that the spine of his team requires surgery if Liverpool are to continue progressing.

Key player - Sadio Mane

In Salah and Mane, Liverpool boast arguably the best wide duo in the Premier League that will give opposition full-backs sleepless nights and should prove absolutely devastating on the counter-attack.

The latter scored 13 goals in 29 appearances during his first season for the Reds following a £34m switch from Southampton and his absence was very keenly felt during a January trip to the Africa Cup of Nations.

Now fit following meniscus damage in his left knee that ended his 2016-17 campaign early and required surgery, Mane will be bidding to make up for lost time.

Sadio Mane
Sadio Mane has now recovered from knee surgery Jan Hetfleisch/Bongarts/Getty Images

Expectations

Liverpool enjoyed a positive pre-season campaign, losing just one of eight friendlies via the lottery of a penalty shootout and evoking memories of last year's 4-0 drubbing of Barcelona by making light work of the mighty Bayern Munich on their own turf.

There will always be a significant portion of supporters and pundits that believe a club of such stature should be challenging for the title on an annual basis, but retaining their place in the top four and lifting a first piece of domestic silverware since 2012 coupled with a strong showing on the continent is likely to be the best-case scenario for Liverpool this year.

IBT prediction - 6th

If they can maintain a stellar record against key rivals and find a way to unlock the stubborn defences of resilient underdogs, then Liverpool are quite capable of securing another top-four berth this term. However, it is difficult to see them keeping pace with big-spending contemporaries if they do not eventually address the obvious weaknesses that persist in Klopp's first-team squad.

The loss of Coutinho, should Barcelona finally get their way, would be a significantly bitter pill to swallow.

Mohamed Salah and Philippe Coutinho
Liverpool have signed Mohamed Salah, but can they keep hold of Philippe Coutinho? Stanley Chou/Getty Images