Liverpool legend John Barnes has urged Jurgen Klopp not to miss out on Mario Gotze, if the German midfielder becomes available for transfer in the summer. The former Reds winger believes the main area of strengthening has to be in defence after a number of poor lapses cost the Merseyside club in key matches this season.
The Germany international, who is currently out injured, has been heavily linked with a move after falling out of favour at Bayern Munich under former manager Pep Guardiola. But the midfielder has poured cold water on speculation regarding an imminent reunion with his former manager in Anfield by suggesting that he is looking forward to next season when Carlo Ancelotti takes over the reins at the Bundesliga club.
According to Barnes, the defensive side of the team is what needs the most attention, with Klopp facing a number of tough decisions ahead of next season. The only defenders guaranteed their spots are DEjan Lovren and Nathaniel Clyne. Kolo Toure is out of contract, Martin Skrtel is struggling for fitness and form, Mamadou Sakho is facing a lengthy ban owing to his failed drug test, while Alberto Moreno has come under heavy criticism in recent months for poor performances, especially his mistakes during the Reds' Europa League final loss at the hands of Sevilla.
The former Borussia Dortmund manager has already begun his recruitment process and completed three signings, with defender Joel Matip arriving on a free transfer from Schalke and Marko Grujic coming back from his six month loan spell from Red Star Belgrade after having agreed to move to Liverpool in January. The most recent recruit was goalkeeper Loris Karius from Mainz and he will challenge mistake prone Simon Mignolet for a starting berth next season.
"It's not important who leaves, but who comes in. We need strengthening at the back. If the opportunity to get Mario Gotze comes, we have to take it because we have to take quality where we can get it," Barnes told the London Evening Standard.
"We must improve defensively, so [we need to sign] a centre-back, full-back and maybe another goalkeeper. If the quality is available to us in terms of a player like Gotze, we can't say no."
"We have a lot of work to do in terms of getting players in. I always said I would never judge Klopp on this season. It's obvious we need better players and, if we get three or four in, I'll be looking forward to next season," the Reds legend added.