We’re In Good Shape Now

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It may just be me and my quirky ways, but when the summer transfer window shuts I can’t help but look through the Liverpool team full of new names and faces, and missing a few old ones, and imagine what I would have thought if you’d shown me that squad at the start of the window. The absence of Luis Suarez would jump out straight away, but in his place Mario Balotelli would have me rubbing my eyes with disbelief. I’d also be wondering if Southampton put some sort of special ‘everything must go’ offer on their key players, while noticing Alberto Moreno and Lazar Markovic and thinking that we’d recruited some of Europe’s top young talent as well.

The transfer window ‘slammed’ shut yesterday, though for Liverpool it was more a case of being closed quietly without so much of a shrug of the shoulders from our side. We got our business done early and left ourselves with minimal stress for transfer deadline day; putting ourselves in the ideal situation of being ready to act if a good opportunity reared its head, but otherwise being very content with the state of our squad.

A couple of players were given the opportunity to leave on loan to get more football elsewhere, with Sebastian Coates going to Sunderland, and Oussama Assaidi heading back to Stoke. Earlier in the summer it seemed the latter would be leaving on a permanent deal, but he couldn’t agree personal terms. Though with Stoke now paying 100% of his wages to get him there, and him seemingly happy to remain on this wage, it seems odd that the original move broke down. We missed out on a reported £7m transfer fee, and Assaidi once again will have a season of uncertainty as to where he will be in the long term.

Perhaps the biggest talking point for us was whether or not Fabio Borini would still be a Liverpool player this season. An offer came in from QPR for the Italian, but he too couldn’t agree a wage and the deal fell through. Having already rejected a move to Sunderland, it was clear that Borini wasn’t in any hurry to leave Liverpool, but the lure of London life could potentially have been a factor. But the 90k a week wage he was asking for was never going to happen, and he seems to have priced himself out of the move.

It’s a strange situation, as you could either look at it as incredible dedication and belief from Borini that he will force himself into the Liverpool team, or on the other hand he is deluding himself and is happy to pick up his weekly wage here knowing he will play very little football. There were whispers that he may be holding off leaving just now in the hope he gets a move back to Italy soon, which may not be far off the truth.

From our point of view, it’s a shame to miss out on the high transfer fee that either Sunderland or QPR had offered for him, as we are now unlikely to receive such an offer in the future, with teams knowing he’s dispensable here, and him being unlikely to feature much this season to retain that value. But what we are left with is a player to bulk up the squad a bit, who will be ready and waiting in the case of any injuries, and now with a point to prove. Or if we do fine on the injury front, he has no right to complain about lack of first team football.

For some players, a manager will go out of his way to fit them onto the bench and give them a few minutes here and there, to keep them a happy member of the squad. Much the same way someone like Rickie Lambert knows he isn’t part of our first eleven, but he’s always in and around the squad and has got a couple of cameos off the bench. But by rejecting two moves away from the club, Borini can’t have any grievances if he is furthest down the pecking order, and only featuring when we are absolutely down to our bare bones as a team. In that sense, he’s not a bad player to have around just in case of any injury/suspension emergencies.

Earlier in the window we’d seen the likes of Pepe Reina, Iago Aspas, Martin Kelly, and Daniel Agger leave, but none of those players would have been significant parts of our squad this season, so it was best all-around that they moved on and we trimmed the wage bill. Aspas will likely leave permanently next summer, but the other trio all leave on good terms as far as I’m concerned, and I wish them all the best.

Therefore the only departure that changed things for us this season was Luis Suarez. While no one can claim that Mario Balotelli will come in and do more for us than the Uruguayan would, he is probably the best possible striker we could have realistically got in this summer, and it brought a smile to my face to see Arsenal spend the same amount of money on Danny Welbeck as we did on Balotelli, only reinforcing what a fantastic deal we got for the Italian. The rest of the £75m we received from Barcelona has been used to assemble a significantly stronger squad than that of last season, meaning that, as tricky a summer it seemed we were facing, there’s absolutely no Luis Suarez-shaped hole in our squad. And we can take that as a very successful transfer window indeed.

By James Nelson (@_James_Nelson_)