Liverpudlian takes a look at where Liverpool need to strengthen this summer, and ponders what it might take to allow the unthinkable and allow Suarez to leave – play their cards right this summer and Liverpool could form an established top three alongside Man City and Chelsea.
Having achieved Champions League qualification, Liverpool can now start preparing for the world’s best club competition. The inevitable speculation has started already – with some linking Suarez to Real Madrid. It would take a world record bid to prise him away now though but we are all realists and if we are talking in excess of Bale money or the likes of say, Isco plus 60 million pounds it would be worth looking at. Selling your best player, you see, does not necessarily mean you have to suffer – Atletico Madrid are the living proof of that.
All things being equal though and he is still here next year, there seems to be no need to tweak our attacking options. The front three, with Coutinho supporting, have been magnificent but we will need quality reinforcements to compliment and supplement for the impending type of fixtures coming up.
The ability to introduce Eden Dzeko at the finale was a further telling factor in winning the title and unfortunately I do not think a returning Fabio Borini can offer that quality. Yes, he has had a reasonable year at Sunderland but the gulf in class with Europe’s elite is vast and to my mind, Fabio, like Iago Aspas, Ousama Assaidi and Luis Alberto are unfortunately not of the calibre required and should be let go to fund imports.
Having hit the jackpot with the Sturridge and Coutinho transfers, our record since with incoming transfers and loan signings has been poor and subsequent deals have added little or nothing to the squad strength and depth, so in the rarefied atmosphere of the Champions League we have to strengthen.
Given that we need to try and match the accepted 22 or so quality players required to compete at the top level, my gut feeling is that Sebastian Coates can also be let go but I presume Rodgers will take a long hard look at the likes of Tiago Iliori, Suso, Andre Wisdom, Jordon Ibe and Conor Coady in pre-season along with the lads at the academy, to see if they have improved sufficiently to infiltrate and supplement the squad after their loans.
I would further welcome back Pepe (if possible) with open arms, given the task ahead, to give Simon Mignolet more competition and see if he is up for the challenge, if not we have to get him sold quickly and bring in a back-up goalkeeper.
Ashley Cole, for me, on a free is a no brainer for a season or so if we can sort his wages out. OK he doesn’t fit the player profile we are looking for nowadays, but is vastly experienced in Europe, consistent with big game savvy, if any doubts at all remain about the fitness of Jose Enrique, he would add resilience and stability in the short term in order to give Flanno and Martin Kelly the chance to nail down both the full back berths and establish themselves as the vital local players in the side for the next ten years.
To my mind then, the bulk of the entire summer budget should be spent on 2 or 3 world class midfield players to assist and compliment an overloaded Steven Gerrard across the middle of the park.
Adam Lallana looks the part for starters and fits the criteria exactly and a few more in that price bracket will give us plenty of options in the games where currently we are in danger of being overrun sometimes in midfield when Lucas and Joe simply do not have the goals, legs or the guile of the likes of Toure, Willian, Silva, Xavi or Iniesta etc, etc. We have the third best player in world football, the best teenager in world football and the best English goal scorer and all can improve.
Arguably the hardest task in football is creating and scoring goals and we have made light work of that with those three, at a combined cost less than most so called superstars. Addressing the defensive aspect of our game and achieving that balance to reduce the goals conceded column is the obvious priority. Quality acquisitions, not quantity, will address those frailties in defence or the protection in front of it.
The relatively inexpensive Steven Caulker or Micah Richards are being proposed for that physical toughness if any of our centre halves are considered surplus to requirements.
Ok then so maybe 7 or 8 out but the same number in plus our loan signings returning may sound a lot but this is the top table of football now and you need a squad with a big appetite or we will simply be swallowed up in the fixture congestion.
FSG will be absolutely delighted at the performances both on and off the pitch but will need to back the manager where it counts. We have bulldozed ourselves into contention like unwanted gate crashers and a lot of people outside of the club are not very happy.
All the managerial changes last year provided an opportunity for someone to grasp the chance of success and we were the ones who took advantage. Further managerial uncertainty at Spurs, United and maybe Arsenal gives us a now clear run to take on City and Chelsea, toe to toe, and create an established top three.
- See also: Liverpudlian’s review of the season