Jono Henckert gives his own thoughts on possible transfer targets for Liverpool FC
After a disastrous campaign last season, the Liverpool hierarchy have installed an exciting new manager and started rebuilding their squad in preparation for the new season.
There has been a lot of transfer speculation, both in and out of the club but most of it has been in relation to striker Andy Carroll. New manager Brendan Rodgers’ only addition thus far has been the Italian striker Fabio Borini, who moved from Roma in an £11 million deal.
The profligacy of recent seasons, coupled with four managers in three seasons has left Liverpool with a large, if disjointed squad. Dirk Kuyt and Maxi Rodriguez’s departures are unlikely to be the last this summer with transfer speculation rife surrounding the future of both Andy Carroll and Martin Skrtel. Although Alberto Aquilani has also been linked with a move away but he is a player that would suit Rodgers’ preferred style of play which focuses on passing, movement and creativity.
Joe Cole’s future is also uncertain as Rodgers’ evaluates the options available to him in his new squad. His failure to sign Gylfil Sigurdsson, who moved to Tottenham Hotspur and the possibility that he might also lose out on Joe Allen, again to Spurs, might force his hand to keep both Aquilani and Cole.
Liverpool have a reasonably settled defence with options off the bench and a mixture of seasoned professionals and youngsters coming through the ranks. Given that Brendan Rodgers started his coaching career as a youth coach and has generally been willing to give youth a chance, he is unlikely to make any drastic changes in defence. His focus will almost certainly fall on midfield.
Rodgers seems keen to add at least one other midfielder to his squad, with Steven Gerrard a certain starter when fit, there are two more spaces available should Rodgers employ his favoured 4-3-3 formation. Any new addition will challenge Charlie Adam, Lucas Leiva and Jay Spearing for the other two first team berths in midfield. Steven but any move will depend on how Rodgers wants to use youngsters like Jordan Henderson, who can play out wide, and Jonjo Shelvey.
One name constantly being linked with a move to Liverpool is Swansea’s Team GB midfielder, Joe Allen. It has been reported that the Welsh midfielder has a complicated buyout clause which stipulates that Liverpool, Arsenal and the two Manchester clubs must pay at least £15 million for Allen, however, the 22 year old is available to any other club for £10 million. Liverpool will not want the ignominy of losing out on a player to Spurs again this summer but it remains to be seen how much cash they have to spend and whether they’re prepared to spend £10-15 million of it on Allen.
The centre of midfield is an area of strength for Liverpool, they do not have the same strength out wide or up front with several players failing to impress last season. Stewart Downing in particular received a lot of criticism for his poor performances. Liverpool have been linked with a number of attacking players, especially those versatile enough to cover wide positions. Clint Dempsey certainly falls into that category and it is a testament to the prodigious season the 29 year old American had last year that Fulham manger Martin Jol has fought so hard to keep him at Craven Cottage.
Rodgers may turn to Europe for inspiration and in particular to Barcelona’s unsettled attacker Ibrahim Afellay. Afellay has not managed to make the impact he would have liked at Barcelona during an injury hit season, where the Dutch midfielder only managed five appearances. Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova would be willing to allow Afellay to leave after telling him he would only be a peripheral figure at the Nou Camp.
Should a deal for Afellay not materialise, Rodgers could move for Barcelona youngster Gerard Deulofeu. The 18 year old winger would fit the strategic planning from Liverpool’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, who are happy to spend money on young players with potential. Deulofeu would command a fee of around £7.5 million but he is a graduate of the famed La Masia academy and possesses the type of technical ability that Rodgers would love to see in his new squad.
Liverpool are also thought to be interested in Uruguay winger Gaston Ramirez, who currently plays for Bologna in Italy. Juventus are also keen on the 21 year old winger who would potentially cost £15 million. Brendan Rodgers has a clear idea of the sort of squad he needs for the type of football he wants to see at Liverpool and will not spend unnecessarily.