Klopp tactics have left Liverpool jaded, while Salah isn't the force he once was, says Waddle

Former England winger rules Reds out of the title race, citing their high-tempo approach for tiring players and a lack of transfer activity.

Chris Waddle believes Liverpool will head into the Premier League season with a big question mark against their name, as he suggests their tag as second-favourites for the title with Planet Sport Bet may be misplaced.

Speaking to Planet Sport in an exclusive interview, former Spurs and England winger Waddle suggested the return of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez from injury will be a huge boost to Liverpool and their manager Jurgen Klopp.

Yet he suggested their alarming slump in form last season exposed a soft centre in Liverpool's make-up that could be uncovered once again.

"A lot of people have got Liverpool in their pre-season predictions and they have a question mark next to their name," Waddle told us at a VO5 event.

"Van Dijk and Gomez coming back could make a huge difference, but I still feel there are question marks over them. Those two returning at the heart of the defence solves a massive problem for Jurgen Klopp and it also means Jordan Henderson and Fabinho can return to midfield after playing at the back last season.

"Liverpool were unlucky on a number of fronts last season, but their depth of squad was exposed. When injuries kicked, in they didn't have that quality in reserve and losing six games in a row at Anfield was terrible.

Former Newcastle and England winger Chris Waddle

"They sneaked in the back door to qualify for the Champions League in the final weeks of the season, but there is no getting away from the fact they had a poor season."

Waddle's big concern when he assesses Liverpool's title hopes against odds-on favourites Manchester City comes when he focuses on their once deadly forward line, as he suggests Sadio ManeMo Salah and Roberto Firmino may not be the force they were when Liverpool won the Champions League in 2019 and the Premier League a year later.

"You have to say that Mane, Salah and Firmino were 20 or 30% off what they had shown the season before," he added.

"You couldn't get near them in the season when they won the league, they were on fire, but they were not the same players last season.

"For me, they looked like a little bit of a jaded team. They way Jurgen Klopp plays with the high tempo and pressing everywhere, it takes its toll mentally and physically on the players.

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk in friendly action against Hertha Berlin

"They have to hope the return of Van Dijk and Gomez is the spark they need, but I still think there are some question marks there over Liverpool.

"They have not strengthened their squad in the way Manchester United have done and Manchester City and Chelsea are about to do.

"Liverpool could be struggling to get top four if they get injuries to key players again. Their rivals at the top of the table look to have a little more strength in depth."

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