A sustained challenge on a place in the top four, the return of inspirational captain Steven Gerrard, and a quick-fix to the problem of Lucas Leiva’s long-term injury may be the things at the top of Liverpool fans’ Christmas wish lists. But what of a certain former Spanish striker who has struggled considerably for form and who may be available for extremely less than he left Anfield for 12 months ago.
The talk of a return to Liverpool for Fernando Torres is bound to intrigue fans, even those who expressed fervent displeasure at the manner of his exit last January. But with reports of Chelsea looking to cut their losses on the Spanish striker and very little chance of a return to Spain (for a host of reasons), the arrival of Torres could be the catalyst that turns the race for Champions League places heavily in Liverpool’s favour. Of course, there’s the issue of a player who has been lacking form for the best part of 18 months. He’s struggled to rediscover his composure, pace and finishing even under a number of different managers and the change in system during his time at Chelsea. The arrival of compatriot Juan Mata was also clearly not enough to re-energise Torres and get him out of his seemingly lifelong trough in form.
But with new arrivals at Liverpool and a system that is perhaps more in tune with Torres’ game, could Luis Suarez and Charlie Adam be enough to entice Fernando Torres back to Anfield and complete the challenge he so frustratingly failed to accomplish the first time round?
The dilemma facing manager Kenny Dalglish regarding the unavailability of Lucas in the centre of midfield is also cause for concern. Fans would like nothing more than to see one of their one excel at that position, and Jay Spearing may be heading the queue to fill the void left by the Brazilian. However, other avenues of possibility could be a switch in tactic from the frequently used lone striker—which obviously has left Andy Carroll starting from the bench—to something more suited to using what Kenny Dalglish has at his disposal. Something to bring out the best qualities of a number of new arrivals at Anfield could be deploying Carroll in a permanent role in the starting XI. Stuart Downing, from wide positions, has shown thus far that he is capable of stepping up to a team with far greater ambitions than Aston Villa, and full-back Glen Johnson has shown his own capabilities in the final third.
Moreover, the turn of the year could signal a welcome return to the line-up for Steven Gerrard. The Liverpool captain, who has been troubled by injury for much of the season, is expected to resume training in the coming week and will likely play a part over the busy Christmas period. While there is still uncertainty to a number of the players who arrived at Anfield over the summer, the return of Gerrard is something that will hugely increase Liverpool’s fortunes on the pitch. The prospect of Wembley in the new year is also something fans will look to, and with Gerrard’s performances in finals in recent years, the occasion is set-up up for successful run to the Carling Cup final.
While it’s difficult to asses how Liverpool will react to the loss of a key player as well as their inconsistent form thus far in the league, what is certain is the desire for the team to be back among the finest Europe has to offer—the Champions League. The January window may represent a welcome pit stop in the season to re-evaluate what is needed for the squad—and it isn’t very much. Another midfielder to help protect the back-four? Yes, maybe. But at what cost for those lining up from the recently impressive youth academy? Similarly, a move for the out-of-favour Fernando Torres could reignite the Spaniards seemingly lost desire to play the game, but Liverpool fans would surely rather love to see Andy Carroll turn a corner and live up to the huge sum of money that brought him to Anfield and become an integral part of the side for years to come.