Andy Carroll, currently on loan at West Ham until the end of the season, right at the top of the list, but where will he end up next season?
It was clear for all to see in the summer that new Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers clearly just didn’t fancy Carroll all that much as a player; his strengths are diametrically opposed to the underlying principles of the 40-year-old’s philosophy, namely a pass and move style with a heavy emphasis on possession-based, one-touch football. For everything Carroll is, or even could be, there’s no doubting that he will always look like a fish out of water in that sort of system.
The towering leap that led to the 24-year-old nodding in the winner against Michael Laudrup’s Swansea side last weekend was reminiscent of his thumping header against Sweden at Euro 2012. His form towards the back end of last season at Anfield under manager Kenny Dalglish was superb, with dominant displays against Chelsea in the Premier League, Everton in the semi-final of the FA Cup plus a promising cameo appearance in the FA Cup final that nearly hauled his side back into the game. Things appeared to only be moving in one direction.
Nevertheless, the summer appointment of Rodgers only spelt one option, a departure from Merseyside if the right deal could be found and West Ham were chosen as his destination, seemingly above Newcastle out of sheer spite rather than anything else, for a figure of £2m, plus his wages and first refusal on a £17m permanent deal at the end of the campaign should he be a success. Earlier reports that the deal would automatically be triggered if the club avoided relegation this term appear to have been wide of the mark.
Hammers boss Sam Allardyce cast doubt on the deal just last week, though, telling talkSPORT: “You always want a top class centre forward. I know he’s been short on goals and he’s had a disrupted season, but he’ll only get better if he’s got a settled future, whether that’s with us or not [I don’t know]. It would be a long process though.
“We will have a conversation at the end of the season with Andy and Liverpool. It all depends on how he feels and what he does between now and the end of the season. It’s also about where Andy thinks his future lies. He hasn’t thought about that yet, he just wants to play as much as he can.”
Injury has restricted Carroll to just 12 appearances so far this season, only 10 of which have come from the start and he understandably from such a stop-start campaign, has just the two goals to show for it. The likelihood of West Ham forking out £17m for a player that while they may like, has contributed little to them staying up and they have shown they are perfectly capable of getting on without is very poor. Allardyce is merely prepping the ground for the player’s inevitable return to his parent club.
This will leave Liverpool in quite a pickle as there’s not really the biggest market for an injury-prone, somewhat limited target man in today’s climate and the fact that they spent £12m on Daniel Sturridge themselves in January intimates that there is no return for Carroll at Anfield. This leaves just one option, Newcastle.
Magpies manager Alan Pardew is a known admirer and while he may have tried to unsettle Carroll in the past with some fairly snide remarks to the media, in a brazen attempt to try and lower his market price, suffice to say he will most definitely be in the market for a striker in the summer after failing to replace the outgoing Demba Ba during the January transfer window.
The five French recruits that the club moved for last month have finally added some much-needed depth to the squad, with Moussa Sissoko and Mathieu Debuchy making an instant impact, while Yoan Gouffran looks like a hard-working winger, but aside from Papiss Cisse, they still look a little short up front and through the middle, and a move for Carroll looks on the cards, most likely at a reduced rate on the £17m agreed with West Ham.
Liverpool have backed themselves into a corner over Carroll by paying so much over the odds in the first place and by the fact that it’s abundantly clear that he’s surplus to requirements and while they will take a sizeable loss on him whenever he does finally leave on a permanent basis, he will still fetch a hefty fee.
You have to feel for Carroll to an extent, with injury robbing him of progressing just a time when it looked like he was set to lead the line for the national team for years to come. Those doors have not all fully closed, but his chances of making the most of his potential look slim until he finds himself a place to call home and nowhere better springs to mind than his actual home, Newcastle.