What Liverpool great Jamie Carragher has said on title race, transfers and Reds’ contracts

Liverpool have enjoyed a mixed season so far, battling away in the title race as they look to chase down current leaders Manchester City.

The Reds have enjoyed a much better season than their last, or at least so far, with few defensive injuries to worry about.

But they haven’t been helped by their African Cup of Nations absentees over January, and generally, Manchester City have looked relentless in their pursuit of retaining the title.

Jurgen Klopp’s men are still plugging away at the gap, however, and closed it to just three points after last night’s 6-0 shellacking of Marcelo Bielsa’s struggling Leeds United.

But what has Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher thought of the season so far?

Here’s what the Sky Sports pundit has said about all the key topics:

Title hopes (December)

Liverpool’s title hopes may look very different now from what they did in December, but here is what Carragher thought back then.

“To challenge – yes,” he said on The Overlap’s Fan Debate.

“But the thing for Liverpool is challenging isn’t enough, once you’ve won the league title for the first time a challenge is not enough.

“I think Liverpool’s squad can challenge, with what they have right now. I think the big thing with Liverpool players, certain players attacking wise, say Sadio Mane last year or Roberto Firmino.

“More Mane, how much did the fans not being there affect them? I think Mane feeds off the crowd.”

Divock Origi (December)

Divock Origi may not be the most talented player to grace Anfield, but he is a ‘legend’ according to another legend.

“Origi is a legendary figure at Liverpool but it’s not because everyone thinks he’s a great player, it’s because of the great goals he’s scored” Carragher added.

“And whenever Origi starts a game, you go into the ground or you’re watching on TV and you think ‘oh Origi’s starting’, but whenever he comes off the bench, you feel completely different.

“You can see the impact he makes, I mean look at the goals [when coming on as a sub] it’s practically the same [as when starting]. Minutes per goal is the big standout.

“His stats are so much better coming on as a sub. We look at these when we judge a player and you think of teams like Liverpool that have a front three set in stone, or teams that have a striker like Harry Kane, you think, ‘who can I buy that’s going to be happy being a sub, but can still make an impact when he comes on?’

“I was actually thinking, someone like Divock Origi, who’s stats are not great as a starter, he’s never going to trouble the front three in terms of starting, but actually looking at players and judging them from the bench because you know, that’s what you’re buying them for.”

Cup efforts (January)

Liverpool are in the Carabao Cup final and still in the FA Cup as things stand. And Carragher believes those cup runs are vital.

“His [Klopp’s team have not won enough,” he said in his column for The Telegraph.

“Out of context, that sounds extremely unfair. A better way of putting it is that they have not won as much as their performances have deserved.

“To put it simply, Liverpool need to become more like Chelsea.

“What they have done so well during the Roman Abramovich era is to become serial trophy collectors. That is an area where Liverpool can and must improve.”

Luis Diaz (January)

Liverpool snapped up Luis Diaz during the January transfer window, beating Tottenham to the punch, and Carragher has described the move as ‘typical’.

“Brilliant and it was typical Liverpool,” he said.

“There was no real speculation that Liverpool were going to sign anyone and that’s what really impresses me about Liverpool as a club and how they do their transfer business.

“It’s done, they’re clinical, they do it and it’s been a great success story in the last five or six years what Liverpool do transfers-wise.

“I know sometimes people get frustrated because we’re not buying lots of players but the way we do it, the way we go about it, I think it’s really impressive.

“It could be a turning point but I think the signing isn’t just for right now, it’ll be how good Luis Diaz does over the next five or six years.

“Does he eventually break into that so-called front three if you like? Jota’s done that, can Luis Diaz be the next one to do that? I think it does provide much better strength behind the front four if one of them is ruled out or you’re making a change from the bench.

“I think it makes a huge difference because we very rarely bring someone off the bench who is on par with someone who is already on the pitch. I think this is definitely the case now.”

Contracts (February)

Mo Salah and Sadio Mane’s contracts have dominated conversation over recent months.

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Carragher said: “18 months is a long time, it really is. I think Mo Salah is the one you want to get sorted first, possibly more so than the others (Mane and Firmino).

“You look at him and Mane now in the Africa Cup of Nations final, two of the best attackers in world football, and the service they’ve given the club. Hopefully we can get a few more years out of them.

"I’m sure everyone in that dressing room now will be desperate for Mo Salah to sign a new contract as well as Sadio Mane and Bobby Firmino as well," Carragher said.

“These are legends of this club and we’ll be talking about them in 20-30 years, that’s how good they’ve been.

“But nothing lasts forever and that’s why Liverpool have done such really good business with Luis Diaz because maybe, who knows, at the end of the season or the year after one of the front three will move on. They’re at that age in football.

“But if you’re another player in that squad, you’ll be absolutely delighted if those players join the other five or six, or whatever it is, in signing new contracts and it bodes well for Liverpool’s future.”

Harvey Elliott

Harvey Elliott’s injury was crushing earlier in the season, but he is not back fit and looking as good as ever.

"It makes you think Liverpool have got a special player, not just a good player," Carragher told GOAL.

"You think of how young he is and you think of the players we have had at that age that were really special: Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, Raheem Sterling, you’ve seen Trent come through at that age. Sometimes you see someone that’s just special.

"It’ll be really interesting to see how Jurgen Klopp fits him in and gets him enough games between now and the end of the season and also whether that will have an impact on Liverpool’s business in the summer."