The acquisitions of Rickie Lambert, Emre Can, Adam Lallana, and Lazar Markovic have improved the Liverpool squad and added some much needed depth. Each signing has brought their own distinct set of qualities; whether it be raw pace, physical presence, or versatility, but most importantly provided Brendan Rodgers with the options and selection headaches he just did not have last season.
But looking through those players, you could only really make a case for Adam Lallana to be going straight into our first team. Due to playing in a different position, he won’t be seeing as a direct replacement for Luis Suarez, but on paper it would look like a straight swap between the two. Which it can’t be argued; would see our starting eleven significantly weaker than last season.
Loic Remy, Divock Origi, and Dejan Lovren are also rumoured to be close to signing. Lovren would add some leadership and presence to our back four, but it seems that Origi would be going straight back on loan to Lille, while Remy would find himself playing back-up to Daniel Sturridge, unless he could replicate the way our number 15 stormed into our team.
So out of (potentially) seven signings, we’d only have two who we’d be lining up with if we were suddenly playing a Champions League final tomorrow. With Luis Suarez departing, and our defence being as weak as it was last season, you would think we need a bit more. Of course, this is putting to one side that now at least we’d have the players on the bench to change things if needed. But having a team as good as we were, it luckily wasn’t too often that we had to call upon the likes of Iago Aspas or Victor Moses.
We continue to be linked with a variety of players, and even if the three aforementioned players do complete their transfers in the coming days, I don’t think the spending will stop there. But with those seven in, we’ll have a good sized squad, and a transfer budget hopefully increased with the imminent exits of Fabio Borini and Oussama Assaidi. Then comes the time where we have to identify our top targets, and pursue them ruthlessly.
We constantly seem to have at least one transfer saga that drags on and on, and at the moment that is our hunt to sign Alberto Moreno from Sevilla. I’m a big fan of his, but we’ve been squabbling over his fee for a while now and it’s uncertain if any agreement will be made. My take on it is that there are so few top quality left backs out there, that we need to just bite the bullet and get the deal done, even if it mean overpaying slightly. We could walk away from this deal, but if the alternative is Ryan Bertrand then it means our squad won’t be as good. Yes we may be saving a few quid, but our money is there to make our team the best it can be, not to assemble a team of players who we can proudly claim represent value for money.
We’ve had our fingers burnt before when it comes to spending a lot of money to bring in top targets. But the difference this time is that we’d have to get very lucky to find a player as good as Moreno for cheaper than his reported £20m price tag. With the likes of Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing, there were literally dozens of players available in their respective positions who would have cost less, but be just as good if not better.
We can hardly get away with claiming that our finances won’t allow it either. With £75m in the war chest apparently untouched so far by any previous deals, you’ve got to assume that our reluctance to meet Moreno’s price tag is down to us unwilling to exceed our personal valuation of him. But again, our choices are to either take the plunge and meet the asking price, or find ourselves twiddling our thumbs in a few weeks time when the transfer window shuts thinking ‘Well, we look weak at left back, but at least we’ve got this £20m sitting in the bank.’
If we really wanted to go all out, I personally think we could find ourselves a better goalkeeper and right back. But too much change in on transfer window would risk the squad lacking the togetherness that we thrived on last season, and Simon Mignolet and Glen Johnson should have enough quality to see us through another year at least.
Therefore, I think Brendan Rodgers will target at least one ‘marquee’ signing to make a statement that we are replacing Suarez, and can attract big names. Though I don’t think he is the sort of manager to want a big signing just for the sake of it, so it would have to be the right player who Rodgers is convinced genuinely wants to join us for what we are as a club, rather than just a big paycheck. Recently linked are Marco Reus of Dortmund, and Isco and Angel Di Maria of Real Madrid. Any one of them would be a top signing, and at the very least would add that fear factor into our attack that may have diminished with the loss of Suarez.
Brendan Rodgers is slowly but surely adding quality to our squad, and astutely adding to the group of players he has at his disposal. To seal the final few stubborn deals, I hope to see us go in guns blazing to ensure that, come the 2nd September, our squad is as good as it possibly can be, instead of looking at certain players knowing that we settled for second best.
By James Nelson (@_James_Nelson_)
Liverpool have made it clear that they intend to spend like the big boys in order to keep their top four status as well as advance as far as possible in the three cup competitions they will be playing. And spend they have, shelling out over £60 million on players over the past few weeks. But just how successful have Liverpool’s ventures in the transfer market been so far? And what does the club need to do in order to ensure they get the best deals possible and be able to not only make Champions League next season, but challenge for the title as well? This mid transfer window report card will take a look at all of that, evaluate what the transfers have brought the club, and give Liverpool a grade out of 10.
Only one notable player has departed Anfield so far in the summer, but that player was Liverpool’s most important last season as the club finally qualified for Champions League play following a multi-year absence from the competition. Luis Suarez completed a transfer to Spanish giants FC Barcelona for a fee of £75 million. The striker was Liverpool’s top scorer AND top assister despite missing the first five matches of the season due to suspension.
Suarez leaves the club suspended (again) for a further three months following his bite on Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil a few weeks ago. Unable to train, play, or participate in any football related activities, Liverpool were losing their striker in a season where they would need as much firepower up front as possible. The offloading of Suarez this transfer window was both a necessary and a tactically astute decision: Liverpool got a boatload of money for the striker, and they could reinvest said funds into players who would be available to start from day one of the season, not a third of the way in. Also, selling Suarez now was a guarantee that the maximum amount of money would be brought in, as it is unknown how the striker would have done after returning from suspension at Liverpool.
However, Suarez’s departure put a lot of pressure on Liverpool’s other attacking players, who will now have to score enough goals between themselves to compensate for the striker’s loss. And with the Uruguayan registering a 30+ goal season last term, it will not be easy for Liverpool to blaze through matches 3, 4, or 5-0 like in 2013/14. Striker Daniel Sturridge will be expected to improve on last season’s 25 goal haul and the wingers and midfielders will be put under more pressure to score goals.
All these factors put together mean that the sale of Luis Suarez was a slight positive for Liverpool, which is why LFC’s departure grade is a 6/10.
Brendan Rodgers has quickly reinvested the money received from the sale of Luis Suarez. 20-year old defensive midfielder Emre Can was brought in from Bayer Leverkusen for a fee of around £10 million. The player is to be the heir to Steven Gerrard’s position, and could even dethrone the Liverpool legend as the season goes on. Even if Can won’t be a starter this season, he brings in valuable Champions League experience as well as squad depth for Liverpool. It remains to be seen how low he is to be in the pecking order at the start of the campaign, with Lucas Leiva, Joe Allen, Steven Gerrard, and Jordan Henderson all established LFC midfielders.
From, Southampton, Liverpool acquired due Adam Lallana and Ricky Lambert for £25 million and £4.5 million respectively. Lambert was brought in off a stellar 13 goal + 11 assist season, and will add valuable backup to Daniel Sturridge. The 32 year old has shown that he is not done playing at the highest level just yet, and could slot in next to Sturridge in a formation with two strikers just as well as come off the bench as an impact sub. Lallana on the other hand joined Liverpool as their new chief left winger. Called up by Roy Hodgson to the World Cup, Lallana dazzled the Premier League last term as Southampton played some of the most attractive football all season. Quick and technically gifted, Lallana will not find it hard to improve on his nine goal & eight assist season with Southampton.
Lazar Markovic arrived from Portugese champions Benfica for £20 million. The attacking midfielder has been brought in with thoughts for the future, as he currently has not shown that he deserves to overtake Phillipe Coutinho or Rahem Sterling in the starting lineup. However, there may come a time when the £20 million shelled out on him would be seen as a bargain. The 20 year old Serbian international made almost 50 appearances for Benfica, scoring seven goals as the club won the Portugese league, Cup, and League Cup in addition to being runners up in the 2013/14 Europa League final. Markovic is quick but gets dispossessed a little too easily, something he will have to improve on if he intends to be a starter for Brendan Rodgers.
Overall, Liverpool have done well to reinvest the money from the Suarez sale. However, despite all the squad depth options that were brought in, there was a failure to address one of the weakest points in the team- right back. Following Glen Johnson’s poor season and knowing that Martin Kelly is the only replacement in the squad, its a wonder as to how Rodgers did not address the glaring issue first before going in and buying midfielders. Liverpool also need to sign a new striker to fill Suarez’s void. It won’t be easy and certainly won’t be cheap to bring in a player like the Uruguayan, but if Liverpool intend to challenge for the title instead of just Champions League qualification, the purchase is a necessary one. There is good news for the club though, as Liverpool are thought to be close to signing 20 year old Sevilla full back Alberto Moreno for around €20 million. However until that transfer and the purchase of a forward are completed, Liverpool will have to make due with a 7/10.
Liverpool have done a lot in not that much time, having sold their star striker and buying a host of players to strengthen the squad. However, Suarez will be missed in front of goal, as there is nobody else on the team, or in the league for that matter, that can create a goal out of nothing like he can. His sale coupled with the failure to address the issue of right back at Liverpool means that although they have had a solid transfer season (with no intention of stopping anytime soon), Liverpool can still improve on their dealings.
Final grade: 7/10