It truly is a measure of the strides made by Lucas Leiva that we find ourselves asking the question of who should replace the Brazilian now that he is out injured for the season.
For the 1-0 defeat to Fulham Kenny Dalglish opted to give Jay Spearing a run out and while the 23 year old has heart in abundance it is unlikely that he the long term future of Liverpool.
With the January transfer window almost upon us we take a look at five midfielders who could replace Lucas and help Liverpool push on in the race for fourth place.
Five players who could replace Lucas:
While Kenny might see Spearing as a natural replacement maybe he might be better off taking a look at Shelvey. The Scot has already re-called the 19 year old from Blackpool where he scored 6 goals in 9 games although it seems much of his improvement was due to the decision of Ian Holloway to move him into a more advanced role. The Liverpool midfield looks slow at times with Charlie Adam, despite his impressive passing, not the most mobile and the inclusion of Shelvey might add a bit more impetus to Liverpool as an attacking force.
The Newcastle midfielder is already been chased by Manchester United and Chelsea which given his performances since moving to the North East is no surprise. Tiote would certainly add some bite to the Liverpool midfield although his penchant for picking up yellow cards could mean the odd suspension here and there. A deal to send Andy Carroll back to St James’ Park for Tiote might suit a few people.
Cost: 20 million
Liverpool had already been linked with a summer move for Keita before the injury to Lucas and the club might now bring that decision forward six months with a January move. At 31 years old he might not fit in with the new way of thinking at Anfield however there is no doubt the Barcelona midfielder is a good player. The Mali International has won all there is to offer in Spain and might relish the chance for one last hooray in England.
Cost: 5 million
The Real Madrid star is no stranger to English football after spells with Arsenal, Chelsea and Portsmouth and has long been linked with a return to England. The 26 year old is not a first choice at the Bernabeu and was linked with a move to Spurs during the summer.
Diarra would likely cost around 10 million but with age very much on his side not to mention his experience of the Premier league, he would represent good value. There is also the added possibility that Liverpool could move for Diarra in a loan deal which would make the move for the French man even more enticing.
Cost: 10 million
Nigel de Jong
Not that an unrealistic option, the tough tackling Dutchman has yet to agree a new deal with Manchester City and despite being linked with Real Madrid and Arsenal he could be tempted to stay in the North West. City already have Owen Hargreaves, Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry on their books, all of whom can play the defensive midfielder role. It’s unlikely that City would sell to Liverpool although given that the Reds are not yet a real title threat they could be tempted.
Cost: 15-20 million