2010 has seen only Roy Hodgson and match results making the headlines in tabloids. But now it is NESV’s and John Henry’s turn to hog some limelight. A lot has been spoken about the rebuilding of the club around young talent but John Henry knows Liverpool need top quality players this January transfer window to come in and save the day for them. With depleted quality in several positions and the very absence of another striker to support Fernando Torres, Hodgson will be hoping that John will be kind this new year. 10th place is not the position for a club of Liverpool’s stature and bringing in new players might just be the missing piece in the jigsaw.
The story thus far..
Who are Kristoffer Peterson and Yusuf Mersin?
Liverpool very recently made its first move in justifying its youth recruit policy by snapping two bright talents. Kristoffer Peterson and Yusuf Mersin.
Peterson is a 16 year old striker from Sweden who had been playing in the fifth division of Swedish Football for a club named Savedalens. The reason why scouts dug this deep for this lad was because he has shown the abilities to play in the hole just behind the striker as well as be a part of the duo in a 4-4-2 formation. Peterson is said to be a technically gifted player who also possesses a strong mental character for having stayed back in Sweden to improve his game. No wonder technical manager Josep Segura gave his nod for this lad.
The 15 year old Yusuf Mersin is a goalkeeper coming from Milwall. Regarded as one for the future, this youngster from Turkey has already made appearances for his native country at the U-16 and U-17 levels. Coming to the club as a long term replacement for Pepe Reina, Yusuf will be looking forward to making it big at Anfield in the coming years.
Where? Who? How Much?
Identifying the positions that need repair is not really rocket science for Roy Hodgson and his scouting team but the Gaffer has stated that he will not make any hasty purchases come January; his focus being more on quality rather than quantity. It might look like a risky move to let go off players when the squad itself is depleted but it makes little or no sense in keeping fringe players and paying them weekly wages which are on the higher side. Let’s have a look at Liverpool’s prospects in this winter transfer window.
Present Incumbents: Martin Skrtel and Jamie Carragher have been the defensive stalwarts for the club this season but with Carragher out for another two months due to injury, Kyriagkos not really in his prime and Agger only recently making progress after a lengthy lay off, Roy will have to be most careful when venturing out for another defender.
Possible Targets: The Premier League is of a highly physical nature which makes a defender’s job tougher.
One person who correctly fits the bill is Bolton Wanderers’ Gary Cahill. The 25 year old from Sheffield has valuable Premier League experience and will be a good value addition to the squad considering his age and physical qualities. Cahill is a very good player in the air and is quick in closing in on attackers in the box. He would be the ideal choice keeping in mind the deep backline that Hodgson prefers. Having been purchased for 5 million pounds from Aston Villa, Cahill will no doubt cost John Henry close to 10 million pounds.
Liverpool has been persistently linked with a plethora of French players since Damien Comolli’s appointment as director of football strategy. However, one of them can be a serious contender as Carragher’s replacement- the Morocco born French player Adil Rami. The 24 year old centre back plays for Lille and has emerged as one of the possible targets to fill in at central defence. Rami has featured in all of Lille’s games so far this season and has shown the capacity to cope with the physicality of the English game. He will cost Liverpool 12 million pounds.
Present Incumbents: Liverpool shelled out 18 million pounds for Glen Johnson but he is now being told by Roy to buckle up and bring out the defender in him. It is true that Glen has fallen short of expectations this season but Hodgson will most likely wait till summer before offloading the former West Ham recruit.
Paul Koncheskey was purchased by the club in the final hours of the summer transfer window with the idea that he would be the best candidate at left back for Roy’s zonal marking strategy. However, it so turns out that Paul has failed to repay his manager’s faith. A series of dismal performances in the league and the inability to occasionally attack has surely placed him in the eject seat.
Possible Targets: The search for a left back has been one of the main issues that the club needs to address.
Fabio Coentrao is a left-back currently playing for Benfica. A player with impeccable dribbling and crossing abilities, the 22 year old is quick and is as active in attack as he is in defence. Purchasing him will also give Liverpool the solution to its winger problems. Following an impressive performance in the 2010 World Cup, many clubs have been vying for his signature but he will not come cheap. Any bidding club serious about the Portuguese left back must be willing to part with 15-20 million euros.
After missing out on Joan Capdevila Liverpool’s options shrunk further until Jorge Fucile’s name came up. The 26 year Uruguayan had a successful World Cup too but that is not the only reason Hodgson has turned towards him. Fucile is a versatile player who can play in both, left back and right back positions. Keeping this in mind, it would be a good move by Roy to try and land the player who would cost a little more than 7 million pounds.
Present Incumbents: Lucas Leiva was not a fan favourite when he arrived at the club. He being a Brazilian had several expectations resting on his shoulders. After enduring a difficult 3 year period, the 23 year old has finally settled into the squad as a regular. This gives Hodgson no reason to cash in on him.
Christian Poulsen, on the other hand, has been a flop since his arrival from Juventus. After the departure of Mascherano to Barcelona, Hodgson had very little time to find an able replacement and with time being the main constraint, the best he could do was purchase Poulsen for about 5 million pounds. This, now seems to be a makeshift arrangement so that the squad doesn’t run short of players on the bench. Christian Poulsen is clearly a misfit and Roy will be looking to earn back as much as possible from his sale to fund a new midfielder.
It was Carlos Tevez two seasons ago and now it is Scott Parker who has become the savior for West Ham United. The 30 year old England international has played a pivotal role in the Hammers’ fight to stay in the top flight this season. His presence on the pitch for a club like Liverpool has more than one advantage. Players like Meireles and Gerrard can play in their natural positions on the field without worrying about falling back to defend, which basically gives the Reds more options in attack.
Avram Grant however will not let go of his star performer easily. Liverpool’s indulgence will be met with competition from Spurs who already had an 8 million pound bid turned down.
Present Incumbents: Steven Gerrard, Dirk Kuyt and Maxi are few of the players who have had a good season so far. However, all of them are aged 29 or above and a train of thought surely has made its way into Hodgson’s brain which is why Liverpool are in the market for reinforcements in attacking midfield. Besides, hot prospect Ryan Babel has also failed to make a mark at Merseyside and seems to have slowly made his way into the firing line for January.
Eden Hazard, the Belgian born attacking midfielder has emerged as hot property for clubs all around Europe and Liverpool are one of them. The 19 year old is a fantastic dribbler of the football and has an eye for splitting defences with his passes. Real Madrid are reportedly hot on the heels of the Lille playmaker but Hazard has admitted that it will be difficult to hold down to a regular starting spot at Bernabeu with the likes of Kaka, Ronaldo and Ozil also in contention.
Liverpool has a good chance of landing the Belgian provided it meets the asking price of over 15 million pounds because Eden has a better chance of playing regular football at Anfield due to the lack of competition for his spot. With Gerrard in the centre, Hazard will surely prove to be a nuisance playing wide in attack.
Dirk Kuyt has been a faithful servant to Liverpool’s attack from the right side of the pitch but considering the need for pace and power, Roy needs to get in a player who can trouble defences from out wide. In lieu of this, Ashley Young can be the one who can deliver. Gerard Houllier will be reluctant to sell the former Watford player to Liverpool but a bid in the region of 15 million will be hard to turn down.
Present Incumbents: Fernando Torres has had to bear the brunt of criticism after Roy Hodgson this season. The Spaniard’s year has been plagued with injuries and a dismal World Cup was followed by a dismal season in England. David Ngog has done well to rise to the occasion but Liverpool’s league position reflects that there is very little that this youngster can do. Getting in another top class striker to partner El Nino is of paramount importance and everybody associated with the club very well knows the ramifications if the purchase is not made.
The talk of bringing in wide players incidentally means the presence of tall and powerful strikers in the box. Two candidates who could join the roster are Edin Dzeko and Fernando Lllorente.
Liverpool will be competing with the spending power of rivals Manchester City for Wolfsburg striker Dzeko. The Bosnian international won’t come cheap and looking at the release clause of 34 million pounds, the club will see this as a good chance to offload few of its players in a player plus cash deal. Daniel Agger and Ryan Babel have been touted to be the players involved in the move to the Volkswagen Arena.
Athletic Bilbao has been Fernando Llorente’s club since he was 18 years old. And now, at 25, he has become a much coveted player. An asking price of over 16 million might result in balking at first, but let’s not forget that NESV has the spending power. It is just that they are very prudent people and will only splash the cash if the quality is top notch.