Liverpool are setting themselves up for a promising summer and an even more adventurous season next term. Whether it be through brains or a lack of any other viable options, the club are looking to persist with the transfer successes of January and are building through bargain signings with plenty of upside.
It’s not too surprising that a club of Liverpool’s stature have gone in for Iago Aspas. The player was always destined to move away from Spain (predominantly because neither Real Madrid nor Barcelona had any use for him. Valencia, who did have a deal in place, have had to scrap that on the basis of upcoming presidential elections), but it is clear that he was better than Reading, the only team who put forward a concrete bid for him earlier in the year.
In football terms, this has plenty to do with depth rather than like-for-like replacements. Aspas is good, very good in fact, but nowhere near good enough to replace Luis Suarez should the Uruguayan move on this summer. The Spaniard is built in a similar mould to the current Liverpool forward and plays the game in much the same way. Like Suarez, he shares that unpredictability in his approach to attacking, able to take on players and often drifting across the front line.
In fact, even without Suarez there can be a lot of promise with the combination of Aspas and Coutinho in the front three, not to mention the additional arrivals that could come in. Despite not being a ‘youngster,’ the 25-year-old Celta Vigo forward fits the mould of Liverpool’s transfer policy, with his €10 million release clause well within the club’s budget. The only issue at this point that needs to be raised is the player’s mentality. Having played all of his career with the Galician side, he will need to overcome some mental barriers – which did arise this season – to perform at a noticeably higher standard.
But it’s the other transfer target that should also draw plenty of excitement: Sevilla’s Luis Alberto, who was on loan at Barcelona B this past season.
The forward, who can play centrally or from the left flank, is good enough to go straight into the first team at Anfield. The fact that Barcelona are choosing not to extend his stay in Catalonia says more about the arrival of Neymar and the development of Gerard Deulofeu than it does about Alberto’s talent. Sevilla, on the other hand, would surely like to keep him but are being forced into sales due to their debt.
There have already been comparisons made between Liverpool’s building and the team created at Borussia Dortmund. Yes, the thinking is the same, but at this stage it’s too premature to reach those conclusions. We don’t know how successful this project will be under Brendan Rodgers. What happens if the club take a wrong turn at some point over the next year and Rodgers becomes yet another managerial casualty? The meticulous and quiet building is to be admired from the Anfield club, but there is a lot of ground to cover before they’re lined up in the same category as Dortmund.
Aesthetically, the latest names to be linked from Spain does say a lot about the attractive playing style Liverpool are looking to advocate. Even though he isn’t a La Masia product, Luis Alberto has sensational numbers at youth level and has 17 assists in the Barcelona B team. His versatility in attack means that both he and Aspas and Coutinho are able to play in the same starting XI, including another forward, whether that is Suarez or another. Neither player has that dullness attached to them that is so often a characteristic of an unknown in the eyes of English football. They’re both exactly what Liverpool should be looking for this summer, and the emphasis is naturally on spreading the burden of responsibility around the team.
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