Predicting a future Liverpool line-up including transfer targets

Benji Deane discusses this summer’s reported Liverpool transfer targets and where they would fit into Brendan Rodgers’ plans for 2014/15.


LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 11, 2014: Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers after the final game of the season, a 2-1 victory over Newcastle United, during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)
Liverpool’s manager Brendan Rodgers after the final game of the season, a 2-1 victory over Newcastle United, during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

For many Liverpool fans, the buzz of the season just gone has faded into the background. But after the success the club has enjoyed in the last 12 months, this summer has brought with it a sense of almost expectant optimism.

With the club back in their rightful home of the Champions League and challenging for the Premier League title, fans’ attentions have turned to Brendan Rodgers and his dealings in the transfer market. Liverpool’s thin squad will need several fresh faces and this window is also likely to see some departures from Anfield – but who are the players the club have been linked with and how would they fit into the starting line up?

In this article, I’ll take a look at each of the main names paired with Liverpool in the last few weeks, what they would bring to the team and how they could integrate into the first team.

Michel Vorm

Rodgers has openly stated the need for another goalkeeper to challenge Simon Mignolet and Brad Jones, and it is looking increasingly likely that Vorm is on his way to Merseyside.

SWANSEA, WALES - Saturday, September 28, 2013: Swansea City's goalkeeper Michael Vorm in action against Arsenal during the Premiership match at the Liberty Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)
Swansea City‘s goalkeeper Michael Vorm in action against Arsenal during the Premiership match at the Liberty Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With his club Swansea signing Lukasz Fabianski from Arsenal, and the Polish stopper claiming he was moving to Liberty stadium to be ‘the number one goalkeeper,’ the door has been left open for Rodgers to sign once more the man he brought to the Welsh club in 2011.

The Swans are rumoured to want to cash in on one of their highest earners, and I believe this would represent a good deal for both clubs. Vorm could fetch a fee of around £5million, representing a potential £3.5million profit for Swansea, and his statistics are comparable to those of Mignolet.

The Dutchman is held in high regard in England’s top flight and would add great competition for the goalkeeping spot.

Alberto Moreno

Fresh from winning the Europa League with Sevilla, Moreno has been the most prominent of the numerous left backs to be linked with Liverpool this summer.

An obvious gap is waiting to be filled here with Jose Enrique consistently troubled with injuries, and Jon Flanagan the only legible option with the departure of Aly Cissokho.

According to Squawka, the 21 year-old created 19 chances and scored 3 times in 29 appearances last season, and his statistics are again similar to Flanagan’s.

At such a young age with a good reputation, and european experience already under his belt, Moreno’s potential makes him a great signing in my eyes – although Liverpool will hope to secure him for slightly less than his reported £16million price tag.

Dejan Lovren

Liverpool’s much-publicised leaky back line has been under intense media and fan scrutiny for quite some time now, and one of Southampton’s standout performers, one of three possible arrivals from St. Mary’s, could be plugging that gap.

With Mamadou Sakho tipped to keep his place, Lovren is viewed as his partner for the forthcoming season.

The Croatian right-footer made just one defensive error compared to Martin Skrtel’s 4 according to Squawka, and whilst Lovren doesn’t possess the same goalscoring habits, I’m sure many Reds fanatics won’t miss Skrtel’s famed tugs-of-war with opposition shirts in the penalty area.

Adam Lallana

No secret has been made of Liverpool’s interest in the England midfielder this summer, and reports suggest a bid has already been made – and rejected – for the 26 year-old. Lallana gave a great account of himself in England’s 3-0 triumph over Peru at Wembley on Friday night, showing his creativity and touches of flare too.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 21, 2013: Southampton's Adam Lallana in action against Liverpool during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)
Southampton‘s Adam Lallana in action against Liverpool during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

He demonstrated several times his ability to weave past the opposition with a simple shift to the other foot and dart past the defender, a weapon which Rodgers and all Reds fans would gladly lsee helping to unlock the defences of English teams in a Liverpool shirt come August.

Squawka’s data tells us he created 68 chances and hit the back of the net 9 times during the 13-14 season, which makes for impressive reading. You would be hard pushed to find a Liverpudlian against the signing of Lallana, and with his energy, creativity, vision and all round game he would be a cracking addition to our midfield.

The only potential setback is Mauricio Pochettino’s installation as Tottenham manager – but with Champion’s League football and another Premier League challenge on offer at Anfield, it is thought he would favour joining Lambert and Lovren at Anfield.

Emre Can

Admittedly I hadn’t seen much of the German starlet until now, but what I have seen has impressed me. At just 20 years young he would again be one for the future, fitting Rodgers and FSG’s vision, and I believe he would be a much more solid option for us than the likes of Luis Alberto.

A tenacious and enterprising midfielder, Can brings strength and composure normally associated with older more experienced players. Although I feel he wouldn’t yet make the starting line-up with a midfield trio potentially containing Gerrard, Henderson and Lallana, I would welcome Can to the squad and he could prove to be a gem of a signing.

Rickie Lambert

Being a Bristol Rovers fan – I’ve lived on the outskirts of the city for 18 years – I already have a special place in my footballing heart reserved for Lambert, especially after his thunderous winning goal against fierce rivals Bristol City back in 2007.

Watching the City keeper sink helplessly to his knees, powerless to stop a Lambert missile was a great sight – and my intuition tells me the same when the idea of the England international at Liverpool springs to mind.

Lambert will undoubtedly have several doubters to prove wrong, but the majority see the £4million transfer as the right move for all. For starters, he’s a scouser, and he’s a proven goalscorer in the Premier League.

It would take a fool to argue that Iago Aspas offers better back-up, and he brings so much more than many think to his team. He’s not missed a penalty for his current side, he can take a free kick, he offers strength and excellent hold-up play along with experience from the lower leagues too.

Crucially too, he would seemingly be happy with reduced game time to accommodate the mighty Sturridge and Suarez up front. With the transfer a formality according to BBC sport and a medical likely to take place this Saturday, it seems a dream is likely to come true for both myself and Lambert very soon.

Honourable Mentions

With deals looking likely for the above six players already, rumours of Pedro and Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona, and Yevhen Konoplyanka from FC Dnipro now seem unfeasible.

Rodgers doesn’t need to buy more goals for his forward line with the reds’ goals for column in three figures last season, and he is unlikely to want to disrupt the squad with too many signings (a la Spurs!).

The speedy Catalan forwards would undoubtedly add further depth to the squad, but with new Barca manager Enrique yet to decide on who he will keep at Camp Nou this summer, moves for either player now seem doubtful.

Konoplyanka’s direct and fast play would suit Liverpool, but some question if he would be needed after the additions of Lallana and Lambert.

Should the Lallana deal collapse, Xherdan Shaqiri of Bayern Munich would offer more versatility than Konoplyanka in Rogers’ fluid system, and is also seen as the better and cheaper alternative if any hitch to Lallana’s transfer occurs.

The line-up

If, as perceived, deals for Vorm, Moreno, Lovren, Lallana, Can and Lambert all go through, Rodgers will have a rather welcome selection headache on the cards in a number of positions. Here’s how I would solve those problems and line the team up:

4-3-3

Goalkeeper:

Mignolet

Although Vorm could pose a big threat to Mignolet’s position, it is unlikely Rodgers’ faith in the Belgian will be swayed at the start of the new campaign. – although this could change dependant on form.

Defence:

Moreno, Sakho, Lovren, Flanagan

In defence, I have gone for Flanagan at right back. Although he is nowhere near the finished article, young Jon has proven to be a big-game player recently, and possesses levels of grit and determination not too far off that of Carragher and Gerrard. Glen Johnson has been a great servant for Liverpool but for me, his attacking end product has deteriorated and he leaves us open at the back too often. I believe Flanagan is better in the tackle too and for those reasons, gets my vote on the right of the back four. As Rodgers will probably pick Sakho as his defensive lynchpin next season, there would be no contest for the other centre back spot if Lovren arrives this summer – and the same with Moreno at left back.

Midfield:

Gerrard, Lallana, Henderson

Gerrard is the first name on the team sheet in his ‘quarter back’ role, dictating play and spraying his delightful range of passing all over the park. Again if the discussed deals pulled off, there would be no looking past Lallana and Henderson for the two other midfield spots. And upfront, the three S’s will continue to terrorise defences all over Europe next season. The other main option would be for Rodgers to play his famous 4-4-2 diamond, and in that case I would simply slot Sterling behind the strikers. His pace and exploitation of the space between defence and midfield has been phenomenal this season and long may that continue. Of course, Rodgers could play Lallana in the number 10 position too – and if that happened then one of Emre Can and Joe Allen could easily deputise in the vacant midfield slot.

Attack:

Sterling, Sturridge, Suarez

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 30, 2014: It was his idea... Liverpool's Luis Suarez celebrates scoring the fourth goal against Tottenham Hotspur after a free-kick from Jordan Henderson during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)
It was his idea… Liverpool’s Luis Suarez celebrates scoring the fourth goal against Tottenham Hotspur after a free-kick from Jordan Henderson during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The beauty of these signings for Rodgers is in the versatility of the team and individuals here. There are countless options for the forward roles with the additions of Lallana and Lambert, and it would be wrong not to mention the returning Fabio Borini too.

Our achilles heel has proven to be unlocking parked buses (cough cough, Chelsea) and aside from the obvious substitutions, Brendan Rodgers will have vastly improved flexibility to shuffle his pack without replacing a player, giving us another option to ‘try something different.’

Bench:

Vorm, Skrtel, Johnson, Allen, Can, Coutinho, Lambert.

And lastly, the other great benefit to these signings is the much talked about strength in depth that the Reds have lacked for so long. Liverpool’s bench last season so often lacked game changing substitutes, and contained the likes of Iago Aspas and reserve team youngsters. With the suggested line ups above, our bench be much stronger and could look something like this:

If Liverpool are to obtain that first elusive league title in decades and compete in the champions league, we will need depth such as this and I feel with the above signings, we will be as competitive for the league title again, not to mention the Champion’s League.

I’ve been biting my nails as to Rodgers’ next dip into the market for weeks now already, and I’m sure you reds will share my excitement for what the next season will hold. My prediction for the next season? Premier League winners, Champions League runners up. The glass is most definitely half-full!

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