‘We want more’ were the words of Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard following the dramatic penalty shootout victory over Cardiff City in the Carling Cup final at the weekend. The League Cup represented the Reds first trophy won in some six years since the FA Cup was attained in the 2005-6 campaign.
Club principal owner John W. Henry was at Wembley Stadium on Sunday to witness the triumph and his day of celebration has prompted the American businessman to strive for Champions League football once more by stating his intent to see the club rise to its former European glories.
Director of football Damien Comolli is confident the latest trophy to enter the famed Anfield trophy cabinet can inspire the club to push on and indeed sign some of the bigger names in the continental game.
Following the clubs reported interest in Lille playmaker Eden Hazard, Bilbao midfield maestro Javi Martinez and Barcelona enforcer Seydou Keita, let us take a look more closely at how such names may advance an improving Liverpool outfit.
Whilst Liverpool still remain in the hunt for a second trophy in this seasons FA Cup, Reds fans would all like to see the club much closer to rivals Manchester United and indeed at the top end of the Premier League table. Currently in seventh place, and locked in a battle with Arsenal, Chelsea and Newcastle for fourth place; Liverpool still requires more consistency in their bid for Champions League football.
Kenny Dalglish has improved the team tenfold since the ill-fated spell of Roy Hodgson and the Reds are a much stronger outfit, conceding just 23 goals in the second best defence in the league thus far.
But at times, Liverpool’s play is far too one-dimensional and the team do rely on the tricky craft of Luis Suarez for that cutting edge to make the difference in games. With many new arrivals over the past season and a half, north-east trio Jordan Henderson, Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing still have work to do to convince the Kop that they are the real deal. Downing enjoyed a much more influential role at Wembley but his form and goal scoring have been in question over the course of this term.
So what of the possible addition of Hazard? Linked repeatedly with most, if not all of Europe’s top clubs, the much-coveted Belgian could improve many a squad. It would be a real coup for Liverpool if they could tempt the player who would represent the biggest player to move to Merseyside since that of Suarez last year.
Of course, Champions League football would do much to tempt a player of Hazard’s capabilities and the Belgian possesses pacy dribbling, a low centre of gravity and a Messi-like regulation of the football.
Liverpool fans would admit that they would like to see a bit more flair in the ranks with Downing the closest to this description with his abilities to get beyond full-backs on the wing.
Hardworking pros in the ranks are not in question with Steven Gerrard, Dirk Kuyt and Charlie Adam all fulfilling steady roles but ball-winning creativity could also be yielded some more with the addition of Athletic Bilbao’s Javi Martinez.
Reds fans were distraught with the departure of midfield maestro Xabi Alonso in 2009 and in his Spanish compatriot Martinez they too may have found a fellow deep-lying midfield successor. Tall, domineering and a physical presence in the air, Martinez would be welcomed in front of an already rigid Liverpool back four. Whilst Lucas Leiva has steadily improved in a similar role, a possible swoop for Martinez would stimulate healthy competition for places.
If no move for Martinez comes off, Seydou Keita may be the plan B. Accepted as a utility player to Barcelona’s star studded first choice midfield, Keita may make the move to these shores if no longer content with his bit part role in Catalonia.
With success comes confidence. With confidence comes growing interest. Damien Comolli said this week
“A lot of players I know are very interested about joining the project because it’s a very interesting project”.
If Comolli’s judgment is accurate, it may just be a familiar busy summer of spending at Anfield.
Are the following players fit to play in front of the Kop or would you like to see another name signed this summer? Follow me @ http://twitter.com/Taylor_Will1989