Friday, 3 January 2014

New Year, new players

The January transfer window could make or break Liverpool's season.

Any illusions that Liverpool may not need reinforcements in the January transfer window were put to rest on the hour mark at Stamford Bridge when 19-year old Academy graduate Brad Smith replaced the injured Joe Allen to make his senior debut for the Reds. 

With Sakho also added to Liverpool’s injury list, which already included first team regulars Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge and Jose Enrique, in the closing stages against Chelsea, it became clear that new signings would be needed in the New Year, not only to add squad depth and provide cover in the case of injuries, but also to inject some extra quality in order to maintain the Reds’ push for a top four finish. 

And, as the top of the Premier League is so thrillingly congested this season, an injection of fresh talent at the start of 2014 could be the difference between achieving the long held goal of Champions League qualification and having to settle for a place in the Europa League after failing to achieve our aims for the 2013/2014 campaign. 

Although Liverpool’s midfield has sufficient talent, its lack of depth makes reinforcements in the middle of the park Brendan Rodgers’ transfer priority.

Lucas does invaluable defensive work behind the scenes, Allen is improving, Henderson has come to life during the first half of this campaign and Steven Gerrard remains one of the best midfielders in the world despite his age. If one of those four gets injured, however, the Reds are worryingly short of options in the centre of the pitch.

The short term solution may well be a dramatic and romantic return to Anfield for the much-loved Xabi Alonso, who clearly loves the club and has been repeatedly linked with a move back to Merseyside, especially as his contract continues to run down at Real Madrid.

The 32-year old Spaniard’s passing ability would excite Kopites and fit perfectly into Rodgers’ playing philosophy; however a return appears less likely now that reports in Spain are claiming that his agent is in the process of negotiating a new contract at the Bernabeu. 

Alonso was a fans' favourite at Anfield
Derby County’s Will Hughes, who has been described as Rodgers’ preferred long term successor for Steven Gerrard, may also be an option, although reports suggest Rams’ manager Steve McClaren wouldn’t be willing to sell his 18-year old star until the summer, since he wants him available for the Championship club’s promotion push.

Persuading Chelsea to sell Juan Mata to us may be a long-shot, but the want-away 25-year old was linked with a £35 million move to Anfield on the final day of the summer transfer window and is clearly out of favour at Stamford Bridge.

It would be the deal of the transfer window that would immediately solve our midfield issues if Mata moved to Merseyside, but I doubt Mourinho wants to sell to Liverpool at the moment, however much he wants to see the back of his number ten. We can always dream, though.

In recent days, Liverpool have been most strongly linked with attacking players, even though, with Suarez, Coutinho and Sterling all hitting form and Sturridge due to return from injury soon, attack is arguably the one area requiring the least work in the Reds’ squad.

Nonetheless, it is important to bring in more back-ups in case Suarez, who Liverpool undeniably heavily rely upon, picks up an injury or suspension. In addition, the players rumoured to be close to a move to the club seem exciting.

Basel’s 21-year old Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah rose to prominence with goals against Chelsea and Spurs in the Europa League last season. Pacey and more than willing to run at defenders with the ball, Salah could be a useful addition to the squad at £7 million, although it would be disappointing if his arrival deprived Sterling of first team opportunities, since the number 31 has been a star performer recently.

Salah has been strongly linked with a move to Merseyside
Meanwhile, Spain international Cristian Tello could arrive on loan for the rest of the season from Barcelona, with the potential for the deal to be made permanent in the summer. With 10 goals in 47 La Liga appearances, Tello may be more prolific in front of goal than Sterling and Moses and, like Coutinho following his arrival from Inter Milan, could thrive playing regular first team football after leaving a big European club where he’s been starved of frequent playing time. 

His Barca teammate Martin Montoya has also been linked with a move to Liverpool. The right back has attracted the interest of the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund and appears open to a move after struggling to dislodge Dani Alves from his starting berth.

Out-of-contract in the summer, Montoya would be a bargain signing who could provide much-needed competition for Glen Johnson, who has arguably become complacent as nobody has provided him with serious competition for his place in the first team.

Whether these players or others arrive at Anfield this January, it is crucial that Rodgers makes the most of this transfer window. FSG must provide him with the financial wherewithal necessary to improve the squad and provide the boost needed to maintain the momentum built up from the first half of the campaign.

With minimal distraction from cup competitions, this season is, in all likelihood, Liverpool’s best opportunity to break back into the top four and return to the promised land of the Champions League. If Rodgers can repeat the success of last January’s transfer window, when he brought in Sturridge and Coutinho for a combined fee of £20 million, the Reds will have every chance of dining at Europe’s top table next season.


1 comment:

  1. Salah would be a great addition, i watched his action on youtube and i like him, Nowadays he has been most strongly linked with us. Hopefully the egyptian will join soon