Can Liverpool still attract the very best?

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard and Stewart DowningAs Brendan Rodgers embarks on his first full season on Merseyside, expectation surrounding his new club has never been lower. For a side with such a proud history, playing catch up with the League’s big boys was not something fans would’ve envisaged when Steven Gerrard was lifting the UEFA Champions League trophy 8 years ago. Unfortunately times have changed and as it stands, despite the fervour of a brand new campaign getting under way, merely qualifying for Europe again would be an achievement for Liverpool this season.

Not only have their realistic ambitions become less far reaching but the club have placed their faith in an inexperienced manager despite finding themselves a fair way behind the title challengers. The project being undertaken by Rodgers is by no means impossible as Liverpool possess enough talented individuals to become a force again but given the standard of player being targeted this summer, it would appear Liverpool have become less appealing for prospective new signings.

In his short reign in charge, Rodgers has bought Fabio Borini from AS Roma and missed out on Glyfi Sigurdsson who instead chose to join Tottenham Hotspur. Both are former players he’s familiar with but neither offers the sort of global standing to excite the Anfield terraces and Sigurdsson was a player who knew Rodgers well yet was still persuaded his future lay elsewhere. While it may be money that attracted the Icelandic midfielder to North London, Spurs have started competing for a Top 4 spot and this is a pressing concern for Rodgers as many of his targets will need to be convinced of the club’s future before they commit to a side that may not be playing football at the highest level. While UEFA’s Europa League has become more of a hindrance to competing sides thanks to its Thursday night billing, it’s still a yardstick when measuring a side’s progress a season without European football was proof of Liverpool’s declining fortunes. Again, it’s not the end of the world considering the gap between themselves and the top 4 is not immeasurable and they will be on travels again this year thanks to their Carling Cup success but such is the cutthroat nature of the football world that players will be less inclined to sell their soles when offered greater prosperity elsewhere.

It could be the start of a vicious cycle for the club. It doesn’t bode well that they’re current position means the standard of player being targeted is fairly low key but equally how can they attract better stars if they have less to offer in comparison with their rivals?

The days of Europe’s finest joining the Reds appear to be over and more worryingly for the Anfield faithful is the prospect of the next Fernando Torres or Luis Suarez failing to be impressed by a side that struggles to finish in the top 6, however trophy laden their history may be. It will leave Rodgers having to punch above his weight in order to get the club back on the European map using weaker players who must also exceed expectation. It’s an added pressure the Northern Irishman must contend with but how can he hope to bring the glory days back to Merseyside if his main targets are the likes of Joe Allen or essentially just former Swansea City players?

Naturally they will target other clubs for new recruits, most recently they’ve been linked with Fulham’s Clint Dempsey and this is where Fenway Sports Group come in for should they see fit to back Rodgers with funds then his job will become far easier. After all it’s not as if Liverpool have completely lost their mojo and some inspired dealings in the transfer market could see them close the gap on the top sides. Spurs have shown its possible to bring in quality players for a relative pittance and it’s important Liverpool bring in talented players to compliment their already strong squad. Fans have seen players like Sigurdsson overlook personal connections to prioritise financial and professional aspirations so clearly the Anfield project must become more attractive and an influx of exciting names would aid this progression.

It will not be easy since the money needed comes from success and the success comes from investing money but thankfully for Rodgers, there is more to football than money simply buying success. His own work as a motivator and tactician is equally important and it will ultimately come down to whether he can mould his new troops into a competitive side. While few fans are expecting miracles from their fledgling manager, they know the coming campaign will have a big effect on their future ambitions. Succeed and Liverpool can regain their place among the elite once more, struggle for another season and sadly they could find themselves cut adrift from League’s top sides.

Do you think Liverpool can still attract Europe’s top names? Will Brendan Rodgers have to be a bit more creative with his transfer dealings this summer?

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