So we finally get to see FSG open their suitcases. The Washington greens have flown across the oceans, converted to Sterlings and are now sitting in the treasure trove of clubs who have made business with Liverpool FC. The Reds shot ahead of other teams when the transfer window opened, which clearly highlighted their intention to bolster the squad after a disappointing season that looked to be spiraling downwards till Kenny Dalglish & Co came along.
Midfield – The New Faces
1. Jordan Henderson
A lot of targets were linked with Liverpool right from day 1 of the transfer window. However, Damien Comolli didn’t look too far for his first target – 21 year old Jordan Henderson. The young Brit, Sunderland’s Young Player of the Year last season, immediately attracted Dalglish’s attention and with a pass percentage of 74% and 78 chances created, few would disagree that he will fit into Kenny’s pass-and-move philosophy.
Liverpool paid Sunderland 18 million pounds for Henderson’s services and many, who know very little of the player, are of the opinion that this price is more on the steeper side. Yes, with the lack of knowledge on Henderson that majority of the Premier League audience possesses, right now statistics and coaches’ reviews are all that one can bank on. To put it in simple words, Henderson is a central midfielder who can also drift out to the right with ease. His role at Sunderland was primarily spawned from right and if Liverpool decide not to purchase a genuine right winger, then Henderson is likely to take up that role to assist Andy Carroll. The player had 54 accurate crosses to his name at Sunderland last season; so it is safe to say that his training regime will involve a lot of crossing sessions. If even half of those meet Carroll’s head, then Dalgish would do his signature celebration with arms thrown high up in the air.
2. Charlie Adam
Several communities on facebook and handles on twitter have been created in the name of Xabi Alonso. No denying that. Since the departure of the classy Spanish midfielder at the end of the 2008 season, Liverpool has struggled to bring in a player who can dictate the game in the same capacity and finesse as Xabi. Two seasons passed by and Liverpool’s league form was dipping like a rollercoaster’s descent from its peak. Many believed that this slump was largely due to the sale of Alonso.
Last season, the Tangerines were promoted from the Championship. Ian Hollaway’s team was one that was well sewn. It didn’t feature the world’s best players but it was a team that epitomized the benefits of good team chemistry amongst players who were driven with a hunger for success. And this is what Charlie Adam is made of. He doesn’t come off with a backpack of world class reputation but at 25 years of age, has a lot of qualities in his repertoire that the world is yet to see.
Adam was previously a winter transfer target for Liverpool when Dalglish just took over the reins. However, Hollaway put his foot down on Adam’s sale which paused Liverpool’s pursuit till the season got over. But Liverpool has now got their man. Adam is the sort of player who thrives on the freedom that he gets in the centre of the park. Employing him in the starting lineup would see him playing a little deep in the centre – not really at the defensive midfielder position but a little ahead of it. Every Liverpool supporter is waiting to see what this man, only one of three in the league to complete an over-40 yard pass with pin-point accuracy will do.
3. Stewart Downing
If Suarez and Carroll can be compared to Keegan and Toshack, then Stewart Downing can be compared to the legendary John Barnes in some capacity. Barnes rose to prominence during the era of the Aldridges, Beardsleys and McMahons but imagine if this same player was around to whip in crosses that met the head of the boisterous Toshack. Well, it didn’t happen then but it could happen now. Liverpool’s dying faith of bringing in a genuine winger was brought to life when FSG and Comolli gave the green light for Downing’s transfer.
There is no doubt that Downing is a proven player in the League. With the dearth of quality wingers in the market and the exorbitant prices of the few that are there, it is a difficult task to hunt for the man you want. In Downing, we get to see a player with a neat game which encompasses good pace, ball control and an eye for a cross.
Will He Deliver?
Again, the 20 million paid for Downing is deemed as a blind man’s move especially with Mata available for the same price and Sanchez bought for 23 million by Barcelona but with FSG concentrating on buying quality players fallen short of the market value, it would mean that Liverpool have paid Downing’s future valuation this season itself.
It is safe to say that Liverpool’s midfield conundrum is solved for now. The three new faces alongside the likes of Gerrard, Lucas, Meireles and the like, will surely add more dynamism to their play and add another dimension to Kenny’s pass-and-move philosophy.
Will Left Back be Left Back?
Over the last five years, Liverpool has no doubt spent millions and millions of pounds on transfers; especially in the Benitez era. The not-so-surprising point here is that the club has spent the least amount of money on defenders. The likes of Insua, Aurelio, Skrtel and Agger were all purchased at low rates in their “budding” phases. Although this is one of the good ways to do business, it is probably not the best route to take when it comes to defenders.
The void at left-back created by the departure of John Arne Riise surely has hurt Liverpool over the years and many expected this to be the first area of attention. The club has filled its midfield quota but the clock is ticking and there is a high alert to bring in a left-back.
Liverpool’s pursuit of Jose Enrique is an interesting one to watch. Liverpool registered an interest in the player early in the transfer window. Newcastle United, however was mute on the situation since their attention was directed towards rebuilding the squad after the departures of star players Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan. Here is where Liverpool seems to have got a little bit of luck. Enrique recently vented his frustration against the Newcastle board accusing them of being frivolous in their activities to rebuild a competing squad.
All Liverpool have to do now is be patient till the player is on the brink of breaking contract with the club’s authorities and sets his mind on a transfer.
The 25 year old Uruguayan has caught the eye of the Reds after an impressive Copa America campaign, which saw his nation end up on the winning side. Pereira is a player with quick feet and good skill who will be a good option if considered a support for Downing on the left side. He has a buy-out clause set to 17 million pounds, which Liverpool has to match to start business.
If Dalglish & Co is to consider this target seriously, they need to know if it is worth shelling out the money for a player of Pereira’s caliber. 17 million again is lot of money especially considering the Reds have already spent over 50 million so far this summer and Jose Enrique presents himself as a cheaper option.
Pandora’s Box – Deadwood at Anfield
Everybody makes mistakes, fine. Benitez, Hicks, Gillett and Hodgson have given birth to several mistakes and at present, Jovanovic, Poulsen, N’Gog and Aquilani are the ones that hurt the most.
Aquilani’s loan move to Juventus failed to materialize into a permanent deal and since then it has been a catch 22 situation at the club. His proposed loan move to Fiorentina has also hit a snag after it was disclosed that the player sought a permanent deal and not a loan move. It is clear that Italy suits Aquilani and now one can only hope the offices at Anfield receive a fax copy from a Serie A club asking for the player’s valuation.
Jovanovic has failed to deliver in every which way one can imagine. A player, who is on a wage close to 50,000 pounds per week, Jovanovic did well in laying out his personal terms when he was approached with the hope of signing him on a Bosman. However, it is now getting increasingly difficult to find interested clubs for the player. Belgian outfit Anderlecht came close to clinching a deal, but the player’s wage demands saw the club take its steps back. Here again, one can only hope that there is a club that would agree Jovanovic’s wage demands and provide him with a escape route.
David N’Gog has spent a good amount of time in the Premiership and seems to have the strongest chance of an exit amongst the four. Sunderland and Bolton have reportedly expressed their interests in the player but Liverpool is refusing to budge from their 6 million pound valuation of the player. This seems quite foolish on behalf of the club looking to balance its account books. After spending big since January, it is more necessary that they see the importance of selling N’Gog now than sit back and wait for someone to give the nod for the N’Gog price tag.
Christian Poulsen enjoyed a good spell in Spain with Sevilla and was brought to Anfield with the hope of mirroring the same form. Sadly though, the player has failed to get accustomed to the League and its tenacity and with rise of academy product Jay Spearing, the chances of breaking into the roster have faded. Fulham recently lodged a 1.5 million pound bid for the player but there has been no further development on that front so far.
Finishing Touches – Centre Back and Strikers
The recent friendlies against Hull City and Galatasaray clearly highlighted the gaping hole between the first team defenders and their back-ups. The likes of Soto and Carra are running against time and will have to be replaced soon.
Birmingham defender Scott Dann has been the most consistently linked name in the media and would ideally be a good move for player and club. However, the 12 million that Birmingham is demanding is on the steeper side and Liverpool have to negotiate if they hold a strong interest in the player.
One more area that Liverpool can certainly look to add back-up to is on the striker front. Suarez and Carroll is no doubt a destructive pair but it would make sense for the team to go for another striker who can gel well with either of the strikers. The club has signed teenage strikers Nacho and Bueno, but understandably, it would take a while before they break into the first team. One particular target to be considered can be Diego Forlan. The player already has a wonderful partnership with Suarez and can work off Carroll in the box.