The transfer window is a hectic time, to say the least. I could write an article a day about my thoughts on the latest news, and each one would contain a different set of rumoured comings and goings.
So far what we know is that we have brought in Rickie Lambert from Southampton, and have agreed a deal in principle for Emre Can from Bayer Leverkusen.
The obvious connection to make when it was revealed we had swooped to sign Lambert, was his scouse heritage. This is a player who adores the club, and will fulfil a lifelong dream when he pulls on the shirt and represents Liverpool for the first time. And probably every time after that too. There will be absolutely no questioning his commitment and, as seeing from the likes of Jon Flanagan last season, that itself can go a long way to making him a better player.
It will be nice to have another scouser in the team. But we must remember that there are hundreds of Liverpudlians plying their trade throughout the English football leagues. We can’t just bring them in on the merit of loving Liverpool and expect their fight and dedication to be enough. We need quality players. Luckily, Rickie Lambert has been coming on leaps and bounds year after year, and has even earned himself a spot in England’s squad for the upcoming World Cup. He wouldn’t be there if there were any doubts about his ability.
He may be a short term solution, but when we’ve got the likes of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge up front, the only other option was to spend at least twice as much money on a less proven player, who may spend a lot of the season sat on the bench anyway. It was a surprising move for us at first, but after some thought I give it the thumbs up.
After a bit of experimentation, our midfield was actually fairly solid last season, with Gerrard in the deeper role and Coutinho and Henderson ahead of him. It took a few games for the skipper to settle into the role, but he quickly adapted his game for it. Henderson’s improvement was there for all to see, and Coutinho also thrived in a role with more defensive responsibilities, putting in tackles and playing with a work rate that many people, including myself, didn’t know he had in him.
Unfortunately this meant few chances for Lucas and Joe Allen, and both those players looked a bit rusty any time they were given playing time. They improved with more appearances towards the end of the season as Henderson sat out due to suspension and Coutinho was often given a breather. But as senior players, it remains to be seen whether they will be happy going into next season in this back-up role.
It therefore made sense for us to target another midfielder, and it appears Emre Can is the man Brendan Rodgers put at the top of his last. The youngster’s versatility means he should get plenty of minutes next season, without being a threat to anyone in particular’s spot. If he does shine enough to warrant a run in the first team, it just means that he could replace whoever the worst performer was in the positions he can play in. This encourages four or five players to step up their game, rather than pigeonholing him into the defensive midfield position for example, and telling Can that if he wants to be playing he’s got to edge out Steven Gerrard.
Alberto Moreno has been touted as a potential target for the left back spot, a position there can be no argument needs reinforcing. With Aly Cissokho failing to impress last year, and no guarantees about Jose Enrique’s fitness, or indeed his quality given how long he has been out, we certainly need another option there. Like Emre Can, Moreno’s youth would mean there’s no pressure on us to be playing him every game, but his relative experience for his age would mean it wouldn’t be a problem if we did have to throw him straight into the first team either.
Adam Lallana seems to have developed into our annual drawn-out transfer saga. With a price of around £15m I would have thought of it as a good deal. But as the price seems to have risen to the £25m-£30m range, I don’t think Lallana is quite so good that we should be pulling out all the stops to acquire him. To pay that much would also be a signal of intent that we see him as our major summer signing. For a team like ours where there aren’t exactly many starting eleven spots going, particularly in attack, I don’t see Lallana as the missing piece of our jigsaw. Particularly when we’ve now got Champions League football to offer, so therefore can look to bring in the absolute highest standard of players available. Xherdan Shaqiri and Alexis Sanchez have been rumoured, and this time last year they were calibre of players I was praying for the day we’d be able to attract. If there’s a chance that signing either of those could become a reality, I think we need to pursue it.
As for exits, Lambert’s arrival must surely spell the end of Iago Aspas’ short Liverpool career. On the pitch he may not have performed, but by all accounts he has been a model professional off the pitch. But if we can move him on, we should do. Luis Alberto may be joining him on his way, but with so few appearances I can only assume he hasn’t looked the part we expected in training.
Some of last season’s loanees will also be expected to move on. It’s hard to see Pepe Reina and Oussama Assaidi having a future at the club. Fabio Borini and Suso may be dependent on what, if any, bids come in for them.
Perhaps controversially, I think we should listen to any offers for Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger. Johnson’s form has dropped significantly in the past year or so, and Agger just cannot be relied upon to stay fit. With Brendan Rodgers seemingly hesitant to play Mamadou Sakho and Agger together in defence, I think it’s time we let Agger go and allowed Sakho to blossom. Kolo Toure and Sebastian Coates may also be on their way out, meaning we would need to invest in another centre back.
I could go on with my personal thoughts and musings, but with rumours being the dominant source of information rather than anything genuine, I feel like I should hold off. The World Cup may put a temporary halt on any major moves, but things can happen very quickly and it’s really just a case of waiting and seeing. It’s only just getting started.
By James Nelson (@_James_Nelson_)