Liverpool summer transfer timeline emerges as Jurgen Klopp steps up interest in defender

Barring a collapse for Manchester United, which requires them to lose to both Chelsea and Fulham at home this week, Jurgen Klopp's side are heading back to the Europa League.

It hasn't been anything like what Reds fans had hoped for when the campaign got underway in August but they do at least approach the end of it all in good form having won seven in an unbeaten stretch that now sits at 10 games.

Ahead of the final day, Paul Gorst brings you the off-diary titbits from around Anfield in his latest Liverpool Notebook.

Defender search steps up

It was interesting to note Jurgen Klopp's admission that centre-back is an area of the pitch the Reds are looking to recruit for this summer in his Friday press conference last week.

Asked if defenders were also part of the search ahead of Saturday's visit from Aston Villa, Klopp told reporters at the club's AXA Training Centre: "We look in all departments apart from goalkeeper at the moment. Yes, if there is a good one (centre-back) out there, I would not deny it. That's all. We look at all areas of the pitch, definitely."

Levi Colwill is someone who has his admirers at Liverpool having impressed for a high-flying Brighton side this season in his 15 Premier League appearances. At the age of 20, Colwill has huge potential but the fact that he will return to Chelsea at the end of the season poses a problem, as will Brighton's own willingness to make that deal a permanent one as they approach Europa League football themselves next season.

"I hope [Colwill] can play with us also next year but it's his decision and the decision of Chelsea," Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi said this week. "I don't know. We have to be ready to change some players but of course Levi is a top player for us."

Young defenders with senior experience who won't necessarily eat up too much of the transfer budget might be the general profile of those being assessed for potential centre-back additions this summer. Midfield remains the priority.

A busy June expected

While Liverpool's players will be afforded some well-earned time away from the pitch in June after an exerting year, those behind the scenes could be set for a busy few weeks.

The players will return to pre-season training at the AXA Centre on July 8 but the hope is that a significant portion of the summer transfer business will have been concluded by then, with Klopp keen to complete the deals sooner rather than later.

Of course, the negotiation periods are at the mercy of a myriad of factors but in an ideal world, the Liverpool boss will have his new players in early for pre-season ahead of a taxing training camp in Germany and a commercially-driven jaunt to Singapore.

Liverpool moved quickly to ensure Calvin Ramsay, Fabio Carvalho and Darwin Nunez were all brought in well before pre-season got underway last year and the plan is for something similar this time out as the Reds aim to restructure their midfield ranks. That, then, means it is likely to be a hectic June for those tasked with recruitment.

Carvalho was all but completed in February after a deal fell through in the closing embers of the 2022 January transfer window before Nunez was snared from Benfica in mid-June. Ramsay soon followed after that. Carvalho and Nunez were part of the tour to Thailand and Singapore as a result with Ramsay held back after an injury was detected in his medical.

Fitting Firmino send-off

If Saturday was an emotional send-off for Roberto Firmino alongside James Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, a more personal and private event on Sunday was just as moving.

After meeting with a smattering of supporters at the site of the new mural dedicated to him on Rockfield Road, where he posed for pictures, signed autopgraphs and generally took in adulation and the acclaim one last time, Firmino then met with his colleagues and their families for a special and more intimate goodbye.

Inside one of the hospitality suites at Anfield, speeches were given by both Jurgen Klopp and captain Jordan Henderson before he was, of course, serenaded by his team-mates to Si Senor.

Firmino and his family posed for pictures on the Anfield pitch with the trophies won during a decorated eight years at the club that include the Champions League, Premier League and the Reds' only Club World Cup to date - a piece of silverware the Brazilian helped lift by scoring the decisive goals in both games in Qatar back in December 2019.

Around 24 hours or so earlier, Firmino was stopped as he attempted to drive out of Anfield by supporters after the 1-1 draw with Aston Villa. After rescuing a point with his 110th Liverpool goal earlier in the afternoon, the Reds forward got out of his car and happily signed autographs for what those witnessing it say "must have been close to 50" well-wishers.