Brendan Rodgers is looking to almost completely revamp Liverpool’s striking options after a difficult season for our forwards, according to the latest reports.
In the wake of losing Luis Suarez last summer, we found quality replaced with quantity, as Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert were signed, whilst Fabio Borini was brought in from the cold, having spent last season on loan at Sunderland. All three have shown glimpses – some more fleeting than others – of quality, but consistency has been an underlying concern, one that, especially with Daniel Sturridge’s injury problems continuing, will surely need to be addressed.
Perhaps aware that that consistency may only come from players proven at this level, the Liverpool Echo are reporting that Balotelli’s and Lambert’s days at the club are numbered.
The Italian was always going to be a gamble. He has found the back of the net once in the Premier League, which – whilst it could prove an important goal in the top four race – does not justify a £16m fee. The Echo report that Sampdoria may be a possible destination for Balotelli.
Meanwhile, Lambert’s move was also something of the throw of the dice. His age meant that his fee was much less than his true value to Southampton. However, he is often redundant at Anfield, and the lack of faith that Rodgers appears to have in him was summed up when he remained on the bench until the final couple of minutes of the FA Cup semi-final, while right-back Glen Johnson had been brought on 11 minutes earlier.
The Echo are suggesting that Lambert’s departure may be part of a potential deal that sees Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke move to Merseyside. The Belgian has looked a completely different striker in the past couple of months, and is apparently scoring for fun, so would be the kind of player that could improve our squad. However, the same report suggests that it may still take around £30m, as well as Lambert, to make the deal happen.
His long spells without goals should send the alarm bells ringing. However, he was part of a squad that looked completely bereft of confidence, and the pressure slammed itself upon his shoulders, as his teammates turned to him as their only means of pulling themselves out of trouble. Now the side are performing as a whole, Benteke is crowning it off with goals. If we can surround the 24-year-old with confident players, the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Raheem Sterling, and even Adam Lallana, then perhaps, we will have a linchpin that can turn their creativity and endeavour into goals.
However, it is Burnley striker Danny Ings that the Echo believe is close to agreeing a deal. His goal against Hull in Burnley’s latest game was not enough to keep the Clarets in the top flight, but without him, it would have been over a long time ago. As a compensation fee is all that it would take to bring him to the club, with his contract expiring, it would arguably represent little risk.
Many of his goals have been the product of poacher’s instinct taking over, and putting himself around the six-yard box, ready to hit anything that heads his way. With the amount of chances we are able to create, yet not take advantage of, it makes sense to bring someone of Ings’s ilk in, who is expecting a quiet game in terms of workload, but is able to turn it on when the ball is fired towards him, with just one thing left to do.