Football Manager 2018: Liverpool Team Guide, Player Ratings & Tactics

Plenty of attacking talent, but can you find the balance for Liverpool on FM 2018? Our guide can help you take the Reds to a first PL title.

Alastair Pusinelli by Alastair Pusinelli

The most exciting team in the Premier League, but perhaps also the most frustrating. Liverpool’s side is packed with attacking talent, but their defensive frailties let them down. With a healthy transfer budget, a dangerous squad but still plenty to work on, Liverpool are a tempting choice on Football Manager 2018.

Champions League nights return to Anfield, making them a lucrative club to join for stars all around the world. The only thing missing? A Premier League trophy. That has to be the target as you sit down and map out your route to success with Liverpool.

Philosophies

After setting your game up, Liverpool Chairman Thomas Werner will approach you and present the club’s philosophies. On the pitch, you will need to play attacking, possession-based football. With Liverpool a very much counter-attacking side under Jurgen Klopp, this isn’t quite accurate so you may be tempted to discuss this with the board.

Young talent is enshrined in Liverpool’s DNA, with Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler, Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen all coming through the club’s academy. With that in mind, you will need to sign young players for the first team and develop players using the club’s youth system.

Expectations

Next up, Werner will present the expectations for the season. The default is to qualify for the Champions Cup (Champions League), reach the final of the FA Cup and reach the quarter-final of the Champions Cup. The Carabao Cup is deemed not important.

Despite some early season injuries, Liverpool have a well-balanced squad, propped up by some promising youngsters. That makes your objectives very achievable, but you should set yourself a personal goal of lifting some silverware at the end of the season. 

Budget

Transfer: £75 million

Wage: £2.8 million per week (Current £2.5 million)

Formation

Jurgen Klopp alternates between a 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 formation and this should be the same for you. Starting the season, you should go for a 4-3-3 wide, but when Adam Lallana returns from injury you can go for the 4-2-3-1, especially against weaker sides. Unfortunately, due to player roles on FM, it is unlikely you will field the fab four of Roberto Firmino, Phillipe Coutinho, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah all on the pitch at the same time.

Lineup

Simon Mignolet just edges out Loris Karius in goal, but that could change as the season progresses. At right back, you should call up Trent Alexander-Arnold from the U23 squad, with Nathaniel Clyne sidelined until the new year. Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren are the unconvincing centre back pair, with Alberto Moreno in from the cold at left back. 

Jordan Henderson, Emre Can, and James Milner provide a functional midfield three, and they have the dynamic Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho, meaning Mohamed Salah misses out.

On the bench you should go for Loris Karius, Ragnar Klavan, Andrew Robertson, Georginio Wijnaldum Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mohamed Salah and Danny Ings.

Currently Nathaniel Clyne, Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge are our injured, all of which can force themselves into your starting line-up. 

Tactics

Liverpool are accustomed to a standard mentality as they have to adjust how much they counter-attack against the lesser sides. You should have a fluid team shape which should see your front three intertwine and become near impossible to mark. 

Look to get as many green lights in the side as possible for positions and roles, which is why we have decided to put Mohamed Salah on the bench. To get the best out of Philippe Coutinho, you need to play him on the left, and it’s the same for Sadio Mane on the right. Salah and Wijnaldum offer more attacking intent from the bench, which can be crucial to picking up extra points over the season.

Key Players

Attack, attack, attack. It’s what Liverpool do the best. It’s no surprise that their three key players all play in attacking positions. 

Philippe Coutinho – CA 4 star (166), PA 4 star (172)

Liverpool’s star man was coveted by Barcelona during the summer, and the fact that no fee was deemed good enough for Philippe Coutinho shows how important he is. 13 goals and seven assists last season caught the attention of Barca, so you should encourage your side to get the ball to him as much as possible. Coutinho’s CA score consists of 18 dribbling, 18 technique and 18 flair, with his 172 potential making him the most dangerous man at the club.

The 25-year-old has a value of £57 million, but you should not sell the star for any less than £120 million. His £150,000 weekly wages are pricey, but they may need to be increased if you wish to keep him. 

Sadio Mane – CA 4 star (162), PA 4 star (169)

Roberto Firmino may be playing as the striker in this Liverpool side, but Sadio Mane is the main source of goals. The 25-year-old has a cool head in front of goal, shown by his 13 strikes last season, and you should see a similar return on your FM save.

Right winger Mane has a 162 current ability rating, rising to a 169 potential. His £100,000 a week wages gives you his 18 pace, 17 acceleration and 16 adaptability, valuing him at £55 million. 

Mohamed Salah – CA 3.5 star (162), PA 3.5 star (164)

The fact that your third best player is on your bench shows how strong Liverpool’s attack is. You may try to get Mohamed Salah onto the pitch alongside Coutinho and Mane, but having him on the bench may be more dangerous. Having a couple of attacking players (Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge are set to come back from injury) ready to come on can cause havoc for your opponents, and help save the legs of your star men.

Egyptian star Salah is valued at £52 million, with wages of £120,000 a week. 18 off the ball, 18 acceleration and 17 ambition make up his 162 CA score, and he has the potential to hit 164. 

Young Talent

As we have already mentioned, Liverpool have always had youngsters coming through their ranks. There are some talented young players that have flirted with the first team and are braced to earn regular minutes. 

Trent Alexander-Arnold – CA 2.5 star (132), PA 3.5 – 4.5 star (160)

The fact we have called up right wing back Trent Alexander-Arnold from the U23s and put him straight into the first choice line-up shows how talented he is. In the absence of Nathaniel Clyne, Alexander-Arnold has staked a claim for the right back spot with two goals in the Champions League, and with limited options for Klopp, he will have to put his faith in the 18-year-old.

His 132 current ability rating consists of 19 temperament, 18 adaptability and 15 crossing, with the potential to hit 160. The England U21 international is valued at £4.3 million, and his current wages are £12,000 a week. 

Rhian Brewster – CA 1 star (88), PA 3.5 – 4.5 star (152)

The undisputed star of England U17’s World Cup win, Rhian Brewster bagged 8 goals during the tournament, including back-to-back hat tricks in the quarterfinals and semifinals. It may be a while before we see him get a chance in Liverpool’s first team, but there’s no question he has a bright future.

His 88 CA score can rise to an impressive 152, with his best attributes being 15 acceleration, 15 adaptability and 14 determination. He may only be worth £150,000 but you should definitely keep hold of the talented striker, as his wages are just £105 a week.  

Ben Woodburn – CA 2 star (123), PA 3-4 star (151)

Despite just 10 games for Liverpool over the last season or so, 17-year-old Ben Woodburn is already a Wales international. Jurgen Klopp has been keen to keep the raw talent under wraps, but expect as the season wears on he’s bound to get his opportunity.

Woodburn’s 17 temperament, 17 pressure, and 17 professionalism help contribute to his 123 CA rating, so he is perhaps just a few months away from first team football. His potential of 151 would slot him straight into Liverpool’s side. A value of £2.7 million may seem shallow, with his wages only £770 a week. 

Team Report

Strengths Weaknesses
First Touch Leadership
Midfield Depth Aggression
Youth Prospects Jumping Reach
Star Defender (Nathaniel Clyne)
Star Midfielders (Jordan Henderson & James Milner)
Wage Budget
Coaching Staff
Decisions
Teamwork
Overall Depth
Transfer Budget

Dynamics

Team Leaders – Jordan Henderson (C), James Milner (vice-captain), Adam Lallana

Highly influential – Phillipe Coutinho, Nathaniel Clyne, Simon Mignolet, Dejan Lovren, Daniel Sturridge, Ragnar Klavan

Dynamics are a new feature for Football Manager 2018, and they present the dressing room cohesion of your squad. Identifying which players are influential will be important when making decisions and speaking to players and saying the wrong thing to the wrong person could divide the whole squad. The better the chemistry is off the pitch, the more fluid the team will be on it.

Transfer targets

Given that a transfer window has essentially passed, having £75 million in your transfer budget is a lot more than other clubs. This should give you enough to sign two players for your first choice lineup, which could fire you to the Premier League title.

Right back – Martin Montoya (CA 143 – PA 155)

You may wonder why we are going for a fairly average right back, but Liverpool need a quick fix in that position until Nathaniel Clyne returns from injury. England man Clyne is out for more than half the season, so you can’t be reliant on the quartet of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, James Milner and Jon Flanagan to fill in. Valencia man Martin Montoya will only set you back £13.5 million, which is perfect for a short-term solution. The former Barcelona right back has a 143 current ability score, with his potential 15.

16 stamina, 15 acceleration and 15 consistency attributes should see you through until the new year. The 26-year-old Montoya’s wages will set you back just under £50,000 a week.

Alternative options:

  • Kalidou Koulibaly – Age 26, Napoli, Senegal, CA 155, PA 163, Value: £21.4m, Wage: £63k
  • Kostas Manolas – Age 26, Roma, Greece, CA 153, PA 159, Value: £19.7m, Wage: £57k
  • Simon Kjaer – Age 28, Sevilla, Denmark, CA 150, PA 155, Value: £10.1m, Wage: £96k
  • Eliaquim Mangala – Age 26, 26, France, CA 150, PA 155, Value: £22.5m, Wage: £100k

Centre back – Stefan de Vrij (CA 153 – PA 163)

With that right back void sorted, you can now concentrate on improving the side. Liverpool’s defensive problems are well documented, and you need to find a partner for Joel Matip. Dejan Lovren can’t be trusted, so you should look to Lazio’s Stefan de Vrij. The Dutchman can be picked up for £40 million, but that will get you his 153 current ability score and 163 potential (seven higher than Lovren’s).

At the age of 25, there is plenty to come from De Vrij, and you can look forward to seeing his 17 tackling, 16 consistency and 16 work rate grow over the next five years. Expect his £41,000 a week wages to rise as he becomes an integral part of your plans moving forward. 

Players to sell

It’s a large, well-balanced squad at Liverpool, so there are a couple of names that you can consider selling. Remember, you have three key men out injured at the start of the campaign, but with some young talent knocking on the door, you could take the risk and ship out some of the fringe players at Anfield.

Danny Ings

With Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge ahead of him, Danny Ings will struggle for starts at Liverpool. New signing Dom Solanke looks like a hot talent, heaping more pressure on Ings, so you should look to sell the striker after a troubled spell with the Reds. The 140 CA-rated striker should collect you around £15 million in the transfer window, making a saving on wages. 

Lazar Markovic

It may surprise you to hear Lazar Markovic is still a Liverpool player, with the 23-year-old sent out on loan to Hull last season. With Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana above him in the pecking order, minutes won’t be coming Markovic’s way. You should be able to collect £13 million for the Serbian, with his wages setting you back £75,000.

Finances

For a big Premier League club, you would expect all of Liverpool’s finances to be in check. This is certainly the case with balance and turnover on the up, but the club’s profit looks set to turn to loss. 

Paying off almost £2 million a month in debt may be the cause of this, with £110 million still to
paid when the current Chairman leaves the club. You’ll be pleased to hear your transfer budget is set to receive a £20 million boost in January, with it hitting £120 million next summer. 

Gegenpress to the top

Energy has often been the key to Liverpool, trying their hardest to ruffle the opposition’s feather under Jurgen Klopp. Your defensive display will be the vital as you take charge of Liverpool, with the attacking talent in the final third likely to take care of business. Solve the issues in defence and silverware may be on its way back to Anfield. 

Liverpool first team squad roles and ratings

Player
Age Pos Role Duty Role Ability CA/
PA
Starting Lineup
Simon Mignolet 29 GK Goalkeeper Defend 3 star 148/
154
Trent Alexander-Arnold 18 DR Wing-Back Defend 2.5 star 132/
160
Joel Matip 25 CD Central Defender Any 3.5 star 153/
160
Dejan Lovren 27 CD Ball Playing Defender Stopper 3 star 147/
156
Alberto Moreno 24 DL Full-Back Attack 3 star 144/
152
Jordan Henderson 27 MCR Carrilero/
Mezzala
Support 4 star 155/
158
Emre Can 23 MC Box To Box Midfielder Support 3.5 star 152/
162
James Milner 31 MCL Mezzala/
Carrilero
Support 3.5 star 151/
157
Sadio Mane 25 AMR Winger Support 4 star 162/
169
Philippe Coutinho 25 AML Inside Forward Support 4 star 166/
172
Roberto Firmino 25 STC Complete Forward Attack 3.5 star 161/
165
Substitutes
Loris Karius 24 GK Goalkeeper Defend 3 star 143/
155
Ragnar Klavan 31 D (C) Central/
Ball Playing Defender
Defend/
Stopper
3 star 140/
146
Andrew Robertson 23 D (L)
WB (L)
M (L)
Wing-Back/
Full-Back
Defend/
Attack
3 star 140/
152
Georginio Wijnaldum 26 DM
M (C)
AM (LC)
Advanced Playmaker Support 3 star 150/
160
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 23 AM (RL) Winger Support/
Attack
3 star 148/
160
Mohamed Salah 25 AM (RL)
ST (C)
Inside Forward Attack 3.5 star 162/
164
Danny Ings 24 ST (C) Complete Forward Attack 2.5 star 140/
152
Reserves
Joe Gomez 20 D (RLC) Ball Playing Defender Defend 2.5 star 134/
160
Marko Grujic 21 DM
M (C)
AM (C)
Advanced Playmaker Support 2.5 star 134/
155
Lazar Markovic 23 AM (RLC) Winger Support 2.5 star 140/
154
Dominic Solanke 19 ST (C) Complete Forward/
Poacher
Attack 2 star 121/
156
Injured
Nathaniel Clyne 26 D (R)
WB (R)
Wing-Back Defend 3.5 star 151/
155
Adam Lallana 29 M (RLC)
AM (RLC)
Advanced Playmaker Support 4 star 159/
162
Daniel Sturridge 27 ST (C) Poacher Attack 3.5 star 153/
158

Who have you signed on FM? Let us know in the comments section below. 

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Alastair Pusinelli

First console: GameBoy Color / Favourite Game: Assassin's Creed 2 / Currently playing: Football Manager 2020

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