Liverpool are in need of a revamp and Rodgers is set to task on this front before anything else. Gaston Ramirez, Adam Johnson, Juan Manuel Vargas and Victor Moses are a few names which make sense when it comes to new faces.
“I’m looking forward to bringing in three or four players that can really affect the group. The reality is there are very few players who can come and make a difference to Liverpool.” – Rodgers
It all begins here. The appointment of a new manager is done. The man has already won the hearts of several Liverpool fans through his style of speech and the philosophy he aims to implement at the club. That was the honeymoon period though. Now, the time has come to act for Brendan Rodgers. It is time to see why the owners put faith in a 39 year-old manager who became famous within the confines of England for his work at a relatively smaller club. Is Brendan Rodgers as well prepared with his Liverpool targets as he is with his words?
Let’s take a closer look at a few potential targets and the ones who are most likely to see the sun set on their Liverpool careers.
Gaston Ramirez (Bologna)
Belgium has emerged as a nation brimming with talent that has been catapulted across Leagues. On the same page, Uruguay is another nation which can boast of a highly potential talent pool. The Reds wasted little time in acquiring the services of Luis Suarez and Sebastian Coates. Now, the next Uruguayan player on their radar is Gaston Ramirez.
Ramirez, who currently plies his trade at Bologna has emerged as one of the hottest properties across Europe. He joined Bologna in 2010 for 2.5 million euros but after guiding the club to a top 10 finish, few have failed to identify this man who played a pivotal role in the club’s rise.
Ramirez surely fits the bill if you take into account the kind of philosophy Brendan Rodgers aims to preach at Liverpool. The player has vision, good ball control and is quick in identifying a good pass at any point on the pitch. All this, with his bag of tricks, will surely make Ramirez a Kop favourite sooner rather than later.
“You’ll see that within two years, he will be on Alexis Sanchez’s level” – Bologna Sporting Director Carmine Longo on Ramirez
One of Liverpool’s main concerns last season was the lack of goals from midfield amongst other things. The arrival of Ramirez will immediately alleviate any such fears amongst the Liverpool diaspora. Also, now that first preference Gylfi Sigurdsson has agreed to join Tottenham Hotspur, chances are that the Reds will pursue Ramirez with a stronger intent.
Adam Johnson (Manchester City)
The case of Adam Johnson is quite simple actually. He is at a big club which won the Premier League last season; started just ten games, came on as substitute in sixteen more, eventually led to his omission from the England squad for Euro 2012. No matter which club is interested in him, Johnson must be thinking of his future now.
Liverpool’s need for a younger winger with comparatively more flair than Stewart Downing is not something many would disagree with. Johnson is equally effective on the either side of the wings. In fact, he is more effective when he starts on the right and cuts in to whip in a cross and take a shot on goal.
Johnson also has decent dribbling abilities which can help him pair up well with Suarez within the eighteen yard box. His crossing power will only benefit Andy Carroll who thrives on such deliveries. The presence of Johnson will also help in effective counter-attacking since he is faster than Henderson and formerly, Kuyt.
With age and pace on his side, Adam Johnson ticks the checkboxes FSG are looking for and would be a good fit at Liverpool. The only area of development for Johnson would be to work on his defensive play; given that Brendan Rodgers demands an equal dedication to attack as well defend on the pitch, Johnson will have to up his ante and contribute to defending off-the-ball which demands a high work rate from the player.
Juan Manuel Vargas (Fiorentina)
At 28 years of age, Juan Manuel Vargas has become one of the key players at Fiorentina alongside Stevan Jovetic. The left-footed Peruvian international has built up his experience at Serie A having previously played at Catania for two seasons and now at Fiorentina for four seasons.
Although his presence can spread across several areas on left midfield, Vargas’ potential is best witnessed when he plays in left central midfield – a role previously handled by Gerrard and Alonso at Liverpool. This heightens his vitality on the pitch even further. However, one cannot be entirely convinced on whether Vargas is really a value-add at Liverpool.
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Vargas is known to succumb to lapse in concentration while on the pitch which consequently affects his passing. Now this is not something that will go down well with someone like Brendan Rodgers whose Swansea side was ever alert and present with the slow but continuous passing build-up. Hence, it is unlikely that a fax from Liverpool will reach the Viola, asking them to name a price for Juan Manuel Vargas.
Demba Ba (Newcastle United)
Who wouldn’t pounce on a player whose release clause is just around 10 million pounds, has notched up 15 goals for his club the previous season helping them to a fifth place finish?
Demba Ba has risen to become a Toon favourite in just his first season at the club. He was earlier the star striker for West Ham when he joined the Hammers in the winter of the 2010/11 season. In just twelve appearances that season, the French-born Senegalese footballer scored seven goals, attracting attention from Everton and Newcastle United.
At 6 ft 2 in, Ba has an imposing physical presence on the pitch and makes it difficult for defenders to get around and win the ball back. His height and body structure also allow him to hold the ball up the pitch, allowing the midfield to enter the frame of play.
Demba Ba is a no-nonsense finisher who is good with either foot. Hence, his ability to link up with Suarez could yield richer rewards than the pairing of the Uruguayan with Andy Carroll.
Newcastle will surely not let go of Ba this easily though. His partnership with Pappis Cisse showed some promising signs last season and Alan Pardew will fight tooth and nail to keep both the players at the club while he plans to make further additions of his own.
After two seasons at Liverpool, Maxi Rodriguez could be the next player to depart the club before the start of the 2012/13 campaign. Rodriguez shone for Liverpool when Kenny Dalglish took over in the winter of the 2010/11 season with ten goals and 28 assists. However, last season saw him take the bench more often than not albeit his arrival on the pitch sure did add a spark to Liverpool’s attack every single time.
The only reason Rodgers would see him out would be because of his age. Yes, 31 is not considered too old by many, but at this point in time, it is more likely that Rodriguez will once again warm the benches than get some substantial playing time.
It is rumoured that he could make a return to Argentina, back to his first club – Newell’s Old Boys. If it is true, then we could well see the promotion of someone like Raheem Sterling from the Academy to take over his role.
The return of Lucas Leiva once again reaffirms the midfield to the Liverpool captain and the Brazilian midfielder. Now, the presence of Henderson, Spearing, Aquilani and Charlie Adam only means Rodgers will have a tough time deciding how to utilize these players week-in week-out.
With the 4-3-3 system that Rodgers prefers, coupled with the fact that between Henderson, Spearing and Adam, Henderson and Spearing could be given one more season at the club, chances are Charlie Adam will be the man who is sacrificed.
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Adam didn’t really have a memorable first season in a Liverpool shirt as he sat out through much of the second half of the last campaign due to injury. His lack of defensive discipline also makes him a candidate who could go up on the transfer list.
On the 22nd of this month, Stewart Downing turns 28 years old and if he is playing for Liverpool next season, then don’t expect much of an improvement from the winger.
Even after creating the most number of goal-scoring chances after Luis Suarez, Downing still failed to notch up assists under his belt. This is not something that will make one smile especially after learning that that Downing started in 28 games last season and came on as a substitute for eight games.
This will be one signing for which Liverpool will have to take a hit. It will definitely contribute to the loss when the numbers are out but more importantly, Downing’s sale would make room for a new and younger winger (Adam Johnson maybe) who can help add that Spanish flair that Brendan Rodgers was talking about.