Linked with moves for strikers Saido Berahino and Charlie Austin, Jack Lusby writes that Liverpool should avoid this typical January transfer madness.
It’s not long until the most polarising of footballing periods begins: The January transfer window.
As ever, Liverpool are linked with a plethora of ridiculous moves this winter, and with their miserable form this season this has only heightened.
Two outstanding links so far have been West Bromwich Albion’s Saido Berahino and Queens Park Rangers’ Charlie Austin.
— QPR FC (@QPR) November 2, 2014
Meanwhile, The Guardian recently outlined how “Charlie Austin at Queens Park Rangers…[has] been playing so well bigger clubs have taken notice and…may be the subject of bids when the window opens.” Implication interest from Liverpool.
Both are tentative links, but raise a pertinent point on the excesses of the January market.
It is to be expected, with Liverpool needing a striker in January and these two players particularly popular this season—and English, of course—but Rodgers must avoid moves for these expensive targets.
Berahino is rated as one of the most exciting young English players around.
After exploding onto the scene at West Brom last season, Berahino has continued his rise this season with a series of impressive goalscoring displays in a Baggies shirt.
With seven goals in 19 appearances in the Premier League this season, Berahino is the third highest goalscoring Englishman for 2014/15.
A graceful, pacey forward option, Berahino pairs this with a hunger on and off the ball, and a great movement in the final third.
Rodgers recently described his need for a striker of this ilk—criticising current forward Mario Balotelli in the process—by claiming “it’s key for us, that aggressive pressure at the top end of the field. It gives us the platform to go on and dominate the ball.”
On paper, Berahino is the type of forward Rodgers relishes, but with Divock Origi arriving in the summer from his loan spell with Lille, a £23.5 million move seems excessive.
This is particularly pertinent given the pair’s comparative dry spells in front of goal—arguably, neither would be a genuine solution to Liverpool’s issues this season.
— QPR FC (@QPR) December 23, 2014
Austin represents one of the true success stories of the season so far, and is rightly being linked with moves to the Premier League’s biggest clubs.
Having scored 12 goals in 17 games for QPR this season, Austin is the top scoring Englishman in the Premier League, as well as the third-most prolific of any striker.
Behind only Diego Costa and Sergio Aguero, this underlines Austin’s credentials.
Akin in playing style to Alan Shearer and skill, arguably, to Robbie Fowler, Austin is a rare natural finisher, and as such would likely command a fee similar to that of Berahino.
However, unlike Berahino, the 25-year-old is far from the all-round forward that Rodgers is looking for: Austin is an inspired goalscorer, but is fairly slow and offers little in terms of defensive intensity in the final third.
Signing Austin in January could well prove an expensive upgrade on Rickie Lambert, not a stylistic back-up to Sturridge.
The January Transfer Window
That both strikers are being touted with big-money January moves is indicative of the impulsive nature of the winter transfer market.
As evidence of this, this week The Telegraph’s Jonathan Liew expertly analysed the pitfalls of buying the January sales.
Remarkably, Liverpool are the second-highest January spenders since 2005.
Furthermore, as Liew outlines with his data, “teams at the foot of the table are almost five times more likely to sign a player than the team at the top.”
With Liverpool struggling around mid-table as we hit the half-season mark, there is no surprise the side are linked with big-money moves this January.
Liew continues “when managers talk about value in the market, they’re only really talking about one area of the market—the market for proven Premier League talent.”
This bracket includes Berahino and Austin, as well as Sturridge, but the latter is a rare success from the window.
As Liew concludes, “there is no correlation between January transfer activity and subsequent league performance,” suggesting that a spending spree for Rodgers won’t necessarily solve his issues.
In particular, signing Berahino or Austin for inflated fees won’t necessarily solve his striker woes, for various reasons; for every Sturridge, there is an Andy Carroll or Fernando Torres.
The January transfer window rarely heralds a true bargain, and Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho are exceptions to this rule, and, while Liverpool are currently struggling without a prolific striker, moves for Berahino, Austin or the likes of Burnley’s Danny Ings should be avoided this new year.
Can Liverpool find value in the January transfer market? Let us know in the comments below.