Liverpool FC had a mini-overhaul in their squad for a second season is a row, following the departure of another key player. After reports pointed at the management for not backing the manager in the transfer market as the the reason for last season’s transfer failures, there was a change in approach by the Merseyside club who gave manager Brendan Rodgers complete backing in the transfer market. We look at the new signings at the club and rate their probability of success.
Liverpool had a rather unconvincing season last year as they finished sixth in the Premier League despite spending in excess of 120m GBP following the big money sale of Luis Suarez to FC Barcelona.
A major reason for the failure was the disastrous transfer window performance that saw the Reds sign players, especially attackers, who had little impact on their season. A large amount of blame was put upon the infamous transfer committee for the failure to sign the players Brendan Rodgers wanted. Instead, the players signed hardly got a fair crack, mostly because the manager did not rate them in the first place.
This season, things look much better with all the new signings already playing a key role in the opening few games.
1 – Roberto Firmino
Liverpool FCa s announced the capture of the Hoffenheim man among much fanfare. Hailed as a coup for the club, Liverpool FC swooped in under the noses of Manchester United and Manchester City to land the Brazil star. As cited by the player himself, the fact that Liverpool moved quicker than any other interest club made Firmino feel wanted, and the fact that there were other Brazil players, especially his Coutinho at Merseyside, made the decision easy for the attacker.
Firmino was signed in a A?29m deal after having scored 23 goals in his last 66 appearances in the Bundesliga, becoming a key player for Hoffenheim. His importance to the side and quality can be adjudged by the fact that he has, in the last two years, created the most chances from open play (140) and completed the most dribbles (291) in a league consisting of the likes of Arjen Robben, Thomas Mueller, Reus etc. His 10 assists last season was bettered only by the Player of the Year in Germany, Kevin de Bruyne. The Brazilian had 11 assists in the season before last.
Liverpool fans got a glimpse of what he could do in the game against West Ham, when a thundering 25-yard shot from his weaker foot hit the post. Firminoa s talent is there to be seen in the cameos he has played for Liverpool FC so far as he slowly builds up his fitness following a return from Copa America duty.
Verdict: 3/5 While the fee involved is high, Firmino is just 23 and should he continue to show the same form and progress as he has done in the past two years, Liverpool FC have a real player on their hands.
2 – Christian Benteke
Lack of a quality goalscorer was touted to be the biggest reason for Liverpool’s sixth place finish in the Premier League last season. It was reported by various media in England that Christian Benteke was one of Brendan Rodgersa primary targets to solve the goal scoring problem at Liverpool FC.
The club authorities duly obliged and signed the player for a reported A?32.5m fee from Aston Villa. While he may have averaged a goal every other game at a struggling Premier League outfit in Aston Villa, there were fears that the player might not fit in with the style of play at Anfield.
‘Once bitten, twice shy’ following the Balotelli transfer that turned into disaster of sorts, Liverpool FC fans were quite skeptical about the Benteke’s ability to give his best to the Anfield side. The fears were that Benteke would be much like Balotelli, who had scored a lot of goals with Milana more than 30 in 2013/14a before signing for Liverpool. However, he failed to adjust to Rodgersa style of play and struggled before being frozen out and eventually moving on.
The fear of the Reds faithful was compounded when Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood warned the Belgian to not move to Liverpool FC as there was a no point going to a club where they dona t cross the balla .
Verdict: 3/5 a First few games into his career at Anfield, Benteke has shown that he is no muck with the ball. His link up with Coutinho has been very encouraging. The big Belgian also has looked dangerous in all games barring the one against West Ham, where he got no service from a hapless Liverpool midfield that struggled following the sending off of Coutinho. What once looked like gross overpayment may very well turn out to be decent business given the fact that Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger said he could not secure a forward because of lack of players who can improve top clubs.
3 – Joe Gomez
Liverpool FC signed Joe Gomez from Charlton Atheltic in a A?3.5million ($5.5million, 5million euros) deal with the player having progressed quickly at his former club after having made his debut last season. Gomez rise has been such that he played for the U18 side at the age of 13 and went on to make 21 appearances in the Championship in his debut season.
The 18 year old defender was part of the English national side that won the European U17 Championships last summer. Gomez was named in the team of the tournament in the process and his performances earned him comparisons with former England star Rio Ferdinand, whom he idolizes.
It was expected that the defender would be loaned out to gain experience when he signed for the Reds. However, after a splendid pre-season where he earned rave reviews from the Liverpool fans and coaches alike, the defender was not only kept at Anfield at the expense of a much experienced Andre Wisdom (who was loaned out), but the player also managed to keep Spanish international Alberto Moreno out of the starting eleven in the opening four games for Liverpool FC.
Liverpool kept clean sheets in three of those four games with Gomez playing a key role at left-back. This, when he is not a full-back but a centre-back and a right-footed one.
Having replaced a much more attack-minded and defensively undisciplined Alberto Moreno at left-back, the player has looked rock solid in the first three games, although he had a rather poor game against West Ham. But, given his tender age, that can be excused as long as he continues to play in the way he did in his first few games.
Verdict: 4/5 A bargain if he continues to play with the same composure and determination. The defender has pace to burn to add to it all, so much so that he managed to outpace Hector Bellerin in the recent Arsenal FC clash. Gomez looks like a tremendous addition for the Reds and one that could be earmarked as a future England international at the least.
4 – James Milner
James Milner has always been a player who can be relied upon to give steady performances consistently. And following his free transfer from Manchester City, there is every indication that Milner will continue to perform that way.
Milner has been a solid performer for Liverpool FC in their opening four games, which has seen the Merseyside outfit keep three clean sheets in a row. One of the key reasons for this has been his relentless pressing and smart tactical play. Milner has also played a steady attacking role even if he was not spectacular.
Injury to Jordan Henderson has curtailed his attacking instincts more, with Emre Can being deployed in a slightly advanced role rather than Milner in the last two Liverpool FC games.
Verdict: 4/5 – Make no mistake, Milner will be a very important player in the system Brendan Rodgers deploys. Not only is he a leader in a very young squad, his work rate and the ability to stifle the opponent will ensure Liverpool are hard to beat. And the fact that he is a free transfer, makes it all that more sweet for the Merseysiders.
5 – Nathaniel Clyne
Liverpool FC signed Nathaniel Clyne from Southampton in a A?12.5million deal, with reports also linking him to Manchester United.
Right-back was a priority area for the club after the release of Glen Johnson and a long-term injury to Jon Flannagan.
Clyne, 24, is a proper modern fullback who made his England debut earlier in the 2014-15 season and made a very good impression in his first outing against Switzerland. Signed from Crystal Palace by Southampton, the player has good pace for a fullback and likes to bomb forward.
Verdict: 4/5 At 12.5m GBP, the right-back looks like a bargain. He was superb with Southampton and has arguably been the best Liverpool defender in the opening four games. Definitely the only one who has not made an error leading to a goal among the Anfield defenders.
6 – Others
Liverpool also signed Dany Ings on a free transfer and the forward made his first cameo appearance, looking sharp in the defeat to West Ham. New reserve goalkeeper Adam Bogdan is yet to play a game and youth signings Taiwo Awoniyi and Allan have been loaned out right away.
Overall: 3/5 – Liverpool FC have had, for a change, a good transfer window. Probably their best since FSG took over in the middle of the 2010-11 season. While most of the acquisition are still untested, the success and failure of the side will be best determined by how Firmino and Benteke turn out at Anfield, as the duo are likely to have bigger impact than any other signings. For now, Liverpool seem to have done everything pretty decently.