Players continue to be linked to the Reds left right and centre, but there are a couple of names that are becoming more consistent than others. We all know that the Reds are still in search of a left-back, a holding midfielder and an out and out striker to complete the jig-saw puzzle for the coming season. Okay, so let’s try to tackle each of the three vacant positions separately and see what we can come up with!
Left-Back : The candidature of Luke Young for this role seems to have fallen by the wayside, and perhaps at 31 year of age this would have been more of a stop-gap rather than a long-term solution. That said, the lad is an ex-England International (suitable for the new home grown quota rule) and does have bags of experience. The two most favoured tabloid and webnews candidates are now Paul Konchesky and Maynor Figueroa. Both lively attacking full-backs but Konchesky (29 years old) here takes a winning edge in my book for being another England International .
With the above said, Fabio Aurelio is back with the Reds after signing a fresh two-year deal. The Reds will probably still go for a left-back to make sure the turnover process covers all positions and also not to depend to much on the injury prone Brazilian!
Holding Midfield: Beppe Marotta, General Manager of Serie A giants Juventus, confirmed that the Reds are in fact interested in the Stg 6/7 million rated Danish midfielder Christian Poulsen. No doubt this is a solid player. He is excellent at sitting in front of defense but is not a nimble as Mascherano. What they do share in common is their ability to collect yellow…and the odd red cards! Solid Investment but not very ‘long-term’. Then there is Steven Defour. Those of us that recall a Champions League pre-Group qualifier against Standard Liege will remember how this 20 year old Belgian (at the time) directed his side in giving the Reds a real run for their money (and he was already captain of the Belgian national side). Dogged by injury last season, he is now 22 and is skilful at all three possible options a player can play in his role, i.e. defensive, central or attacking. At a rumoured Stg 10 million price tag, this would be a solid investment for the future (go for it Roy!).
Centre-forward: With our beloved El Nino destined to stay and David N’Gog giving the Reds a 2-0 away victory in the Europa League, the latter’s credit rating has been given a massive boost and there is no doubt the young Frenchman will have the time to improve and flourish into a wonderful striker. The Reds have been linked to various strikers and possible come-backs, but one player that stands out in my mind at present is the striker and player that impressed me most in the last World Cup: Keisuke Honda! Power, technique and work ethic are all part of this 24-year olds abilities (this one falls within the wish-list category). The problem here is that half of Europe’s football elite want him in their ranks and in this case perhaps we might fall behind in his order of preferences. Personally, I’d go for either Carlton Cole or Peter Crouch (that is if Old ‘Arry will sell him back to us). Both excellent forwards and both England Internationals!
On the way out: It is believed Inter Milan are putting together a Euro 25 million offer which will obviously be turned down by the Reds. If these people are demanding Euro 35 million for Balotelli and close to Euro 50 million for Maicon why should we sell him to then ‘on the cheap’? Rafa always claimed Masch was worth Euro 50 million, so why offer should we accept a half-price offer? The lad wants to leave, so be it, but the Reds should and will not make this too easy. Philippe Degen too is also on the way out. I suppose some players will leave on loan for the coming season. Pacheco seems to want to play first team football and Kriztian Nemeth will probably spend another season out on loan. It may be too early to cash in on these two wonderful talents even though I personally would not even think of selling them (not yet at least).
A good luck to the Reds for tomorrow’s friendly, and am all excited to see Joe Cole’s debut game!