Liverpool are in the market to sign Central Midfielders (apparently 2 more!) when there are already 8 of them in the ranks; add to that Alberto Aquilani and you can’t help but feel the odd lull in the gut!
The Left back position that caused problems throughout last season, is still vacant. Clichy seems confused, Wenger seems adamant; Enrique would prefer Champions League and Sylvain Marveaux failed a medical at Melwood, only to sign for Newcastle within 3 hours!
The team lacked width, the previous season, yet the club only signed Henderson who is not a natural wide player, ironically the talented yet cheap Ashley Young who fits the bill, signed for Manchester United and all we have been linked with is Downing! You know the state of affairs when you are linked with Stewart Downing, don’t you?
Liverpool also lost Phil Jones to Manchester United while Connor Wickham chose to sign for Sunderland after Liverpool failed to match the striker’s valuation. The two of them were supposed to be the primary transfer targets this summer; while Jones choosing Man United is still understandable, loosing Wickham makes you ….think
It’s not the kind of start to the transfer window the fans would have expected, after all the promises and statistics that were fed to the media, assuring a splurging of cash to bring in the best players. Yet, all is not lost, and it could very well be negotiating tactics rather a lack of intent, that could explain the dubious approach by the club officials, in the window. Or, is there something that does not meet the eye?
Chaos In The Midfield – Meireles, Adam, Aquilani
When Liverpool signed Jordan Henderson, the message was out and clear – Liverpool have the cash and are pretty serious about doing what they want to do – that is, bring in young talent, even if it costs the club a premium. However, the move for Henderson beats the logic of hiring to fill in the gaps in the first 11. Liverpool already has 8 midfielders and another 17 million pound misfit out on loan, yet they went in to sign Jordan Henderson, who although highly rated, is not a player the team could not have done without.
Further, Liverpool has been linked to Charlie Adam, the Blackpool captain, ever since January, when reportedly the transfer could not be completed because of major differences in the valuation of the player. Adam, had been the man behind the stint of successful outings for the Tangerines last season, is a play-maker. It’s not difficult to understand that Dalglish wants a creative lynch pin in the middle of the park to work out the pass and move philosophy. But the most amusing part of the whole situation is that when the club has already acquired Henderson who stands 3rd in the tally for creating most number of scoring chances, last season, why on earth would Liverpool need another Playmaker? And if he does not fit the bill, why was he signed in the first place?
If that was not enough, latest reports emerging from Italy suggest that Aquilani is on his way back to Liverpool. Aquilani had a good season with Juventus but the club failed to make the move permanent due to a lack of funds. Aquilani is a classy player with a neat touch and an eye for the odd pass that could tear the defenses; however the player is also injury prone, which would explain the reluctance on Liverpool’s part to bring back the player to the English scene.
It’s pretty much understood that the club needs to shed some dead wood in order to bring in fresh faces. Players like Christian Poulsen who never got going at Anfield are expected to depart; in fact Liverpool would be willing to incur a loss to see that the player vacates the space.
However, in the quest to add play-makers to the squad, Liverpool may trigger the departure of a player, who was not expected to leave. Lucas after his best season in the Red shirt got awarded with a contract extension which rules out the possibility of his exit. Even Jay Spearing got a contract extension, which suggests that Liverpool believe in the player’s ability and may not want to lose him. Of course the captain is untouchable, which leaves us to Raul Meireles and Jonjo Shelvey. Shelvey does have the ability, but is largely inconsistent, and therefore could be sent out on a season long loan.
But the most disturbing part throughout the last week, has been the continuous speculations regarding the exit of Raul Meireles. Not only was he quick to adapt to the English game, but was largely instrumental in the resurgence of the team under Clarke and Dalglish. Reports in the media suggest that the Portuguese player has fallen out with the club administration over a verbal agreement that was made to him when he joined the club last season. Liverpool apparently promised the player to increase his wages, if the performance was good. Now, after being chosen the Fans player of the year, Raul is demanding a pay hike which Liverpool, reportedly are not willing to fulfill.
Though the reports may have a degree of truth in them, since the club may not be willing to increase the wage load of a player who is not getting any younger, it’s still difficult to believe why would Dalglish offload one of his best players on the pitch, to make room for others. Maybe, it has got to do with money, maybe there is something with the GPS data that could explain the dip in the players performance towards the end of the season. Whatever be the reasoning, Raul Meireles certainly does deserve to be at Anfield compared to the lot of Joe Cole, Milan Jovanovic, Christian Poulsen.
Defense – Phil Jones, Scott Dann, Cristian Zapata And Gael Clichy
The void at the left back position has been a source of trouble for the team since Riise left for Roma. Last season Paul Konchesky was brought on to fill the gap, only to fail miserably. As the window progressed, there was a genuine expectation that a player would be hired for the position sooner rather than later. Liverpool has been constantly linked with the likes of Jose Enrique and Gael Clichy. But nothing has materialized till this point. In fact chances are that by the time you read this piece, Clichy might have already signed for Man City! Enrique although a good player, does not capture the imagination of the Liverpool faithful.
Interestingly, the club did come close to sign the French wing back Sylvain Marveaux, however the player reportedly failed the medical, only to sign for Newcastle United in subsequent hours. The French international claimed that he never failed the medical rather the move fell out because of contractual disagreements!
Liverpool is also in hunt for a long term replacement of Jamie Carragher. The 24 year highly rated Birmingham Centre-half Scott Dann has been on the Liverpool radar after failing to sign Phil Jones from Rovers. Reportedly, there is a standoff in the valuation of the player, between the two parties and Liverpool might have to Cough up 12 million pounds if they are to land the player at Anfield. Cristian Zapata has also been linked with the Reds but the Copa America might lead to the delay in any eventual movement of the player.
Pertinent questions do arise on the strategy that has resulted in standoffs between Liverpool and clubs wishing to sell their players, which has in turn led to the loss of three transfer targets in the past one week. The ongoing saga involving Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing does not help matters either. Liverpool ‘s principle owner John. W. Henry himself defended the club’s movement in the market, over Twitter, insisting that Liverpool would not pay over and above the already inflated market rate to land its targets. He also emphasized on the fact that it would be incorrect to link the club with players of a certain age as the target is to build for the long-term.
While one cannot doubt FSG’s commitment to its vision, considering the purchases of Carroll and Henderson, there is certainly something wrong somewhere! Either it’s the media or the other clubs that are cranking up the rumor mill in the public domain just to inflate the prices of the players or there could even be a disagreement in the Liverpool camp on whether to bring in 18 or 19 year olds with a view to build for the future or a 25-year-old Charlie Adam who could bring instant returns.
Remember, Connor Wickham might be the next ‘whoever’, that suits the FSG policy but Dalglish has just 3 years to win the English Premier League and the Ipswich Striker who is 19, is hardly the missing piece in the puzzle that could win the title for the manager!