All Roads Lead To Anfield… Apparently

Lazar Markovic after signing for Liverpool

The transfer merry go round is well under way, and if reports are to be believed Liverpool may be on the journey all summer.

I am not one to delve into speculation usually, I think posts and articles with such imaginative titles as “5 Bundesliga Players Destined For Anfield” and “10 Wonderkids Rodgers Should Sign” are the footballing equivalent of gossip columns. It may get the heart racing for a short while, but it does little more than promote fantasy and untruth.

With that being said I am not about to pass off my opinions as fact. I do not wish to fuel the 18-wheeler of football gossip any more than it is fuelled already. Thanks to articles on The Metro, and various other sporting fonts of wisdom, Liverpool will be linked with hundreds of players in the coming months with very little in the way to justify such speculation.

Now that that is out of the way, let us look at Liverpool.

Not since the hectic summer of 1999 have we seen such frenzied activity in the opening weeks of the transfer window. Brendan Rodgers and co have been very busy already, bolstering dressing room numbers with four new players. But if we are to trust in Brendan – and after last seasons performance, why shouldn’t we – then we should expect even more signings in the coming weeks.

Word is that Fenway Sports Group have given Rodgers permission to spend the money received from the Luis Suárez sale. This being the fairly sizeable sum of around £75 million. The transfer kitty will be strengthened further by the reports that Fabio Borini is heading to Sunderland for a figure of around £14 million, added to that is the almost inevitable departure of Pepe Reina, and Rodgers could have a budget of £92 million still to spend.

With around £57 million having already been spent, and with a possible £92 million still to spend, Liverpool could well be the summer’s biggest spenders, despite the fact they do not have a Russian billionaire backer, or a Qatari owner.

Liverpool fans have seen a host of individuals linked with the club this summer – there is not a day that has gone by without a new name appearing on a sports website or on the back pages of a newspaper. It seems Liverpool have become the new Tottenham; being linked with everyone, whether there is genuine interest or not. It is crucial though, that Liverpool do not “pull a Tottenham” and completely waste this financial windfall in the manner that Spurs did last year.

So the question remains: “Who to buy?”

When talking of transfers, it is always best to look towards the man spending the money. Rodgers is clearly showing where his preference for new recruits lies, and the positions that keep popping up are those of Left Back, Centre Back and Striker. These are the areas Rodgers himself is looking to strengthen. As exciting as the rumours of Arturo Vidal, Paul Pogba and Isco may be, they are not at the head of BR’s shopping list.

With Lucas, Joe Allen, Jordan Henderson, Steven Gerrard and Emre Can, Centre Midfield looks pretty much sorted. The attacking roles are not looking too bad either with the likes of Raheem Sterling, Phillipe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and Lazar Marković being able to fill those positions. It is up top where Liverpool look light, despite the signing of Rickie Lambert, they will soon be two strikers down from what they had last year.

Iago Aspas and Fabio Borini leaving is not overly concerning, but the departure of Luis Suárez as well means that there is a sizeable gap in the Liverpool front line. It has been weakened both in quantity, and quality. This is a priority task for Rodgers and I would not be surprised to see two or even three new faces come in in an attempt to fill this position.

The signing of Lambert threw me off a little. Before then I thought that I had Rodgers’ system pretty much figured out, but recruiting an ageing striker who is noticeably a more physical, and possibly direct, player means that Rodgers is either shifting away from his pacey, passing and moving-dribbling, attacking threat, or he is developing a plan B. Whatever the answer may be, Liverpool are in need of a striker or two still.

As well as new recruits up top, Rodgers is doing all he can to bring in people at the back. With a woeful defensive record last season, this is perhaps even more of a priority than buying strikers. A commanding Centre Back is desperately needed, preferably someone that fits in to Rodgers style of playing out from the back. If there is a defender who is adept at defending, as well as comfortable with the ball at their feet, you can bet Rodgers has been keeping an eye on him.

Alongside the Centre Back slot is the pressing need for a Left Back. Jon Flanagan performed admirably last season when he was asked to play there, but being a naturally right sided player, a young talent, and having been the most dribbled past defender in the league last season, it is time Rodgers found a more permanent fix. With José Enrique plagued by injuries, Liverpool will definitely be looking at left sided defenders.

These then are the priorities. There is no point painting the walls if the ship is sinking. Though Liverpool’s predicament isn’t quite that drastic, there are more pressing concerns than blowing £50+ million on a Turin-based midfielder.

Just for fun: A quick google search of “Liverpool linked with” reveals the following list of names the Merseyside club have apparently been chasing in the last month alone: Paul Pogba, Arturo Vidal, Isco, Romelu Lukaku, Jay Rodriguez, Dejan Lovren, Edinson Cavani, Marco Reus, Ryan Bertrand, Ben Davies, Wilfried Bony, Loic Remy, Deandre Yedlin, Arda Turan, Karim Benzema, Angel di Maria, Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Jerome Boateng, Maxi Periera, Moussa Sissokho, Zakaria Bakkali, Gullermo Ochoa, Alberto Moreno, Karl Darlow, Alexandre Lacazette, Adam Johnson and the list goes on.

Paddy is an opinionated, cynical old man trapped in a twenty-something year olds body. An activist on both local and national events, and with articles focusing on topics as varied as democracy, class, tattoos and football, there is little that escapes his criticism. After spending time in the voluntary and charitable sector he is now walking the career path of journalism. You can find him @PaddyVipond or view his blog here.
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