Liverpool FC show no sign that they are looking to replace Luis Suarez, with signings like Mkhitaryan, Mignolet, Aspas and Alberto being more focused on supporting a striker rather than replacing one.
How to pretend your Star Striker isn’t leaving, and other stories
There is no visible sign yet, that anyone in the Liverpool FC management has truly realized the fact that their star attacker may be leaving in this transfer window. None, whatsoever. Every rumour – and let’s be honest, there are usually atleast 500% more rumours than there are transfers– has been about players whom the club would have brought in even if Suarez was still around and the objective of the transfer window was to build a better team around him.
With Fernando Torres, the problem that most rational Liverpool fans had was that his transfer request came on the last few days of the window, thus leaving the club in a vulnerable position where they had to make compromises (read: Andy Carroll @ £35M). At least that’s the picture that was presented to us; it may be that, in reality, Liverpool and Kenny Dalglish were aware of Fernando’s intent to depart right at the start of the window, but chose to ignore the fact till it was too late. That they were not able to make a Plan B in case Torres fled. And when the situation finally reached its watershed moment, they simply took the wrong call in selling him off and replacing him with an inflated English purchase, i.e. Mr. Carroll.
We can do little more than speculate about what transcended back then, but we can try to at least make sense of the current dilemma and hope that the club makes the right calls this time around. For e.g. even a casual Liverpool fan understands that there is a good chance that Suarez will flee to another club within this window. It’s the Anfield club’s management’s job to ensure that they have a strong contingency plan in place in case he departs.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan looks set to join Liverpool
Reports coming from the Russian Newspaper Sport Express indicate that Mkhitaryan’s club Shakhtar Donetsk and Liverpool FC have reached an agreement over his transfer fees, which could be in the area of £25M. This saga has seen its share of crests and troughs. It went from Liverpool looking well placed to sign the man, to news that Tottenham Hotspur and Borussia Dortmund were possibly looking to seal the deal, to Shakhtar denying any contact whatsoever. In the midst of this all, 24 yr old Mkhitaryan himself has added to the gossip fans’ entertainment quotient by first being flattered by the interest, then stating that all he knows is that he’s a Shakhtar player, to most recently missing the first day of training with the club, which was seen as an indication of his wish to leave. Hype around the Armenian Footballer of the Year (in 2012, 2011 and 2009) stems from the fact that he’s an attacking player who can in most forward positions, but is perhaps most lethal playing behind the striker; he managed to provide 25 goals in the Ukrainian Premier League from this position last season. If Liverpool land the man, he will surely be a massive addition to the team.
Mignolet: The Reina Plan B
Pepe Reina has been linked with a move to Barcelona since the start of this window. He and Valdes have been involved in a Fabregas-Iniesta-esque display of mutual love, where everyone praises each other, and Valdes comes within a milli-meter of declaring that Reina has Barcelona DNA. Reina also practically carved ‘Pepe loves Barca’ on the oak tree outside his house. Unfortunately (don’t ask for whom), all the mutual love somewhat disappeared once Valdes decided to stick around for one more year; probably that pyramid marketing scheme didn’t pay out as much as he would have wanted. In any case, Reina suddenly (quite publicly) regained his love for the Red half of Merseyside. Liverpool (thankfully) have learnt their lessons in the past, and decided to ignore anything that comes out of the Spaniard’s mouth for the time being, and secure the club’s position. That is not to suggest Reina is useless or that Mignolet is somehow clearly superior (despite multiple statistics around the same). But the management has made the right decision: when in doubt, ensure that the club’s interests are secured. If Reina stays, Mignolet’s presence will keep him on his toes, and in parallel, ensure that there is a succession plan in place for when Reina finally departs (which is unlikely to be more than one season from now). If Reina leaves, Liverpool will unflinchingly hand over the No. 1 role to Mignolet.
Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas
Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto (now a confirmed Liverpool FC player) were not signed to be obvious first team players; a man who has scored only around 50 goals in his entire La Liga (first division) career and a boy mostly only known for his stint in the Barcelona B side, are not brought in to play more games than the existing setup. The intent is simply to ensure the future of the clan; to make sure that the squad depth and the tactical versatility of the squad as a whole is strong. These are players to throw around a star striker, to build a squad as a unit; they are not being brought in to fill the gap of Suarez’s departure , if it happens.
Carroll 2.0 needs to be avoided at all costs
Liverpool seem to be doing a decent job with their buy-young +avoid-hyped-players transfer strategy. But you have to be careful with such strategies, lest you end up like Arsene Wenger: over-focusing so much on finding youngsters to groom into talented senior players that you end up ignoring some of the star players who really are worth the money. Or you end up like Liverpool around 2 years back; for e.g., missing out on a player like Dempsey because of £1-2 M disagreement was foolish. But so is not keeping one or two high quality/ high potential strikers lined up as replacements for Suarez.