Liverpool’s transfer policy has come in for some severe stick from naysayers the world over this summer – myself included – however, as Kenny Dalglish begins to make his own indelible mark on a squad that lacks both quality and depth, a larger picture begins to emerge; all of the targets either acquired or in the latter stages of negotiations have been pursued with one aim in mind – getting the best out of and utilising the talents of the club’s record signing, Andy Carroll.
Stewart Downing looks all but assured to complete his move to Liverpool from Aston Villa within the next few days for a fee in the region of £20m – a wholly ridiculous valuation given the player’s actual ability. Even given the inevitable inflated premium that you have to stump up for English talent it seems a tad over the mark to say the least.
However, if you factor in that Downing has had the most completed crosses in the Premier League – 135 to be exact – in the last three seasons and it’s clear why he’s being pursued so fervently.
What has become clear, despite his injury troubles after signing for the club in January, through no fault of his own may I hastily add, is that the club simply did not have the players capable of getting the best out of Carroll. There isn’t a natural winger at the club at the moment and that means you drastically limit Carroll’s sizeable impact in the air.
To put it quite simply, the club have had to reinvest nearly £100m on top of their initial outlay of £35m on the big man to ensure that they get the best out of his undoubted potential. Those are some weighty figures to carry around on your shoulders.
Charlie Adam has also signed for the club for roughly £7m despite being out of contract next summer. The club’s keenness to sign the Scot after just one year of top flight action is in part down to his superb set-piece delivery. Without Adam’s free-kicks and corners last season – which notably rendered 9 assists and 12 goals – Blackpool would have been sunk a lot sooner than the final day of the season.
Even Jordan Henderson, a player that almost everyone can agree that the club have overpaid for, represents a bargain of sorts when you factor in the reasoning behind his purchase.
While Samir Nasri can look to command a fee upwards of £20m this summer despite having just a year left on his contract and Luka Modric is caught in a tug-of-war between his current club Spurs and suitors Chelsea; a battle that’ll surely see his fee soar above the £30m mark – the salient point that Henderson has created just as many goal scoring chances in the last two seasons is worth remembering – 110 to be precise.
Henderson is still somewhat raw and has struggled for form for the second half of last season, the sheer amount of chances he’s created in two seasons in a struggling Sunderland outfit is truly astounding. There are of course, as there are with any young player, a lot of aspects to his game that need improving – however, he possesses that rare thing in an English midfielder – vision. His precise, incision like passes from the heart of midfield will have Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll chomping at the bit.
While I have my reservations about the perceived ‘British only’ transfer policy that appears to be the order of the day at Anfield at the minute, with concerns to the club’s purchases thus far (and nearly purchased in Downing’s case), there at least appears to be an element of strong planning on behalf of the management.
The main aim has to be to get the best out of Andy Carroll; a truly terrifying physical presence when on form. The fact that Liverpool have purchased (or nearly, again) the league’s foremost set piece taker, the most accurate crosser and one it’s most intelligent and creative midfielders is worth taking notice of.
Nobody is certain as to how Dalglish will line his Liverpool charges up this season. It could be 4-3-3, 4-5-1 or 4-2-3-1, but either way, Carroll will remain (fitness permitting, of course) the focal point of the teams attack throughout the majority of the campaign.
Liverpool’s summer purchases so far, while they may not have caught the eye in the same way that Man Utd’s have, are certainly functional and tailor-made to get the best out of the club’s most prized and expensive asset.
The plus point for Liverpool fans at least is that each of the club’s purchases thrived last season in smaller, struggling sides and each of them look capable of getting the best out of Andy Carroll, the club’s most expensive ever player. This coming campaign certainly represents a huge season for Carroll, because Dalglish has staked his entire summer transfer rebuilding programme on the success of the Geordie front man and a system tailored to his talents.
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