In his column for the Liverpool Echo this week, former Liverpool striker John Aldridge highlighted a number of players that he termed as “dead wood” who needed to be sold in the summer months so that the Reds could begin to build a stronger squad:
“The defeat at West Ham was a reminder of just how big the job is at Liverpool. Kenny Dalglish has transformed the side’s fortunes in two months. We were never going to go eight games unbeaten under Roy Hodgson but it’s clear the squad really needs strengthening this summer. We’ve still got players like Philipp Degen, Emiliano Insua, Nabil El Zhar and Alberto Aquilani on the payroll. Plus there’s other dead wood at Anfield which needs to be moved on. Dalglish is going to have to deal with that. They need to be cleared out to boost the pot he’s got to bring players in.”
With Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group stating from the outset that they had concerns over Liverpool’s sizeable wage bill, the removal of a number of substandard players from the team’s squad will surely be given equal priority to making acquisitions to improve the squad this summer. I have listed below the first five players I would like to see leave the Reds this summer.
Christian Poulsen – Brought in to replace Javier Mascherano last summer, the Dane has absolutely failed to impress during his number of starts under both Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish. He fundamentally looks a few yards too slow for the Premier League and his distribution of the ball has been horrendous on occasions this season. Although the fact his wife had given birth to new born baby the night before, his display against Sparta Prague last Thursday was nothing short of abject. He gave the ball away on a number of occasions and it was a relief when he was substituted for Jay Spearing. Poulsen himself is uncertain whether he will be at Liverpool next season:
“At the end of the season, I will evaluate what to do about my future. There are many factors to take into consideration.”
Udinese are said to be interested in Poulsen and a suggestion has been made today that he could be used as a makeweight in a deal for Alexis Sanchez.
Paul Konchesky – Not much needs to be said about the former Fulham left back. His move to the Reds in the summer was much criticised and after a number of below par performances, the scepticism over his ability to play for a club like Liverpool looked to be justified. Once Kenny Dalglish took over from Roy Hodgson, Konchesky wasn’t even given a game before he was loaned out to Championship side Notts Forest. Due to Premier League rules, he wasn’t allowed to play for a third top flight club in a single season but teams such as Mick McCarthy’s Wolves were interested in the player back in January, and the player is expected to leave Anfield in the summer.
Milan Jovanovic – The Serbian has had little game time since the start of the season under Roy Hodgson. Both Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish opted to start the 29 year old within their first few matches in charge, but both times the forward has subsequently been put down the pecking order. Under Hodgson, Maxi Rodriguez was later favoured while under Dalglish, Rodriguez and Joe Cole have been given the nod ahead of him, and the switch to 3-5-2 on occasion has limited his game time further. He apparently rejected a move to Wolfsburg in January but if a team at the level of the German club come in for him again in the summer, he will no doubt be departing the Reds.
Emiliano Insua – Some may disagree with me on this one but the Argentinean full back is not a player I rate. Despite being young and still learning his trade, Insua doesn’t have the pace to play left back for me to really be a star in the Premier League. He has also failed to impress on his loan spell at Galatasaray and has been in and out of the team under both Frank Rijkaard and Gheorghe Hagi. It is unlikely that the Turkish club will take up their option to make the loan a permanent move, and I think selling to an Italian club where interest has come from Fiorentina among others in the past, may well be the best option.
Nabil El Zhar – The Moroccan is on loan at PAOK Salonika this season and is due back in the summer. At 22, his development has stalled and even in the Greek league, he has struggled to get a first team place, invariably being used as an impact substitute in the second half. Along with the likes of Philipp Degen, Stephen Darby and Steven Irwin, as well as some other players in the reserves, a cull of the first team squad is needed to ensure that young stars such as Suso and Raheem Sterling have a clear route to first team football, rather than be obstructed by players who will never make the grade.
Read more of David’s articles at the excellent Live4Liverpool