A loss against bottom club Portsmouth at Fratton Park last weekend did nothing to ease the pressure on manager Rafa Benitez. The Liverpool boss is clearly feeling the strain as both the media and fans continue to call for the Spaniard’s head, however it would seem as though Benitez is set to remain the Liverpool manager for the time being. It appears that Benitez will be able to shop in the January window, given that he sells players to provide himself with the funds and the former Valencia manager has already begun drawing up his January sales wish list, with the name Emile Heskey sitting firmly at the top.
Even star striker Fernando Torres has recently admitted that Liverpool need to make some quality signings if they are going save their season from what has been a dismal opening. Torres agreed:
“I think it is really difficult because I think we don’t have money to bring in the best players – and obviously we need players. But if we can bring in quality players, it should be really positive for us.”
It is common knowledge throughout the Premier League that Liverpool lack a quality second striker. Although David N’Gog has stepped up to the mantle this season the youngster is still not of the quality needed to mount a series title or Champions League challenge. Benitez has highlighted former Liverpool striker Emile Heskey as a possible partner for Torres and if the move takes place, it will likely be a signing that will have a mixed reception around Anfield.
Benitez never had the chance to work with Heskey whilst the former Leicester man was on Merseyside, taking the reins a month after the England striker moved to Birmingham City for a fee of less than half the £11 million he signed for Liverpool for. The Aston Villa striker scored 60 goals in his four years at Anfield and has recently become the subject of much transfer speculation after his starting place at Villa Park has been put in jeopardy. Heskey could certainly work at Liverpool as his unselfish nature would definitely benefit the prolific Torres, who is one of the best finishers in the world. Heskey is constantly included in Fabio Capello’s England squad because of his ability to make things happen for his striking partner. He has a high work-rate and could be the target man that Torres plays off. It would finally give Rafa a serious option of playing 4-4-2 and would also allow Steven Gerrard to slot back into his midfield position, where he is most prominent and where the side have greatly missed his influence.
Heskey would also be a risk in the sense that he would put even more weight on Torres’ shoulders. Although the England man could increase the already outstanding productivity of the Spanish striker, his lack of goals would mean that Liverpool will still rely on Torres’ goals, something that the signing of another striker aimed to change. Torres has proved rather injury prone this season and you have to still wonder where the goals will come from in his absence, even with Heskey in the side.
It will be interesting to see whether or not Benitez makes a January move for Heskey, given that the striker appears to have just begun to break into the Aston Villa side. The Spaniard will need to fund his own purchases and it is likely that he will look to offload the discontent Ryan Babel along with the unpopular Andriy Voronin and Philipp Degen, which could leave Benitez with around £15 million to dabble with.