You’re FIRED! Who’s set for the Liverpool chop this summer?

Set for the chop this summer?

With the end of a torrid season in sight at Liverpool, grey clouds remain huddled over England’s most decorated and famous club. Liverpool’s chief executive Christian Purslow remains confident that the club can secure a £100m investment in return for a significant percentage of the club’s ownership, with the Rhone Group, a New York private equity firm, said to be the first organization to make a firm bid for a 40% share in the business. However, if no investment is forthcoming, interest payments to the Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia will continue to burden Liverpool, and the club’s turnover is likely to be dedicated to meeting debt repayment, rather than the transfer market.

Whilst the thought of selling prized assets Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard is currently unthinkable, Liverpool may well have to sell this summer in order to buy. Despite Liverpool’s squad clearly lacking depth, who could be set for the chop this summer, as Liverpool attempt to stage an unlikely title bid next season?

Albert Riera

This season the Spaniard has been dogged by injury, restricting the left-winger to just nine Premier League starts, scoring no goals. Riera also seems to have been effectively replaced following the signing of Maxi Rodriguez. Last Sunday, the News of the World suggested Villarreal were interested in replacing their outgoing Frenchman Robert Pires with Riera, subject to a fee. However, this rumour was in the News of the World…

Ryan Babel

Babel has had his problems with Rafael Benitez in the past, unwisely voicing his issues on the modern phenomenon Twitter. However, Babel seems to have got his head down and started working over the last month, and if Benitez’ lineup against Portsmouth on Monday is anything to go by perhaps the Holland international might win Benitez over after all.

Babel was subject to interest from Birmingham in January, and if the former Ajax and rap sensation has a good World Cup, Benitez might well take the opportunity to cash in on the player. Many at Anfield feel Babel is not a winger, and would like to see him deployed upfront. However, Benitez just doesn’t appear convinced by the Dutchman.

Lucas Leiva

It’s fair to say the Brazilian is not universally appreciated on Merseyside. Even when Lucas has a good game, he’s still often lambasted in some quarters.

Many forget that he often deputised to good affect when Alonso was out injured last season, take Liverpool’s 4-1 drubbing of Manchester United at Old Trafford for example. However, he is probably not a top player, and if Liverpool want to win titles, they need more from their midfield than Lucas can perhaps offer.

Perhaps Benitez’ team selection against Portsmouth is a sign of things to come, with the Spainiard set to shun the ultra defensive route in search of more free-flowing football. If so, Lucas might well be surplus to requirement. However, Benitez is a fan of two holding players, and so the chances of the former Grêmio midfielder leaving are slim to nil.

Fabio Aurelio

Aurelio’s contract is up in the summer, and so the case in point revolves around whether the Brazilian will be offered a new deal.

Liverpool supporters are fond of the 30 year old left-back, and if he was allowed to leave on a free, the club would be lacking cover or options in the position that Insua currently occupies.

With Liverpool’s financial situation precarious, Aurelio’s injury problems may well force Benitez into letting Aurelio leave on a free, as his wages may in affect be wasted if he continues to miss large chunks of the season. He’s managed just 14 appearances this term, and is currently out injured after sustaining a thigh injury during Liverpool’s victory over Blackburn Rovers. Aurelio has his work cut out if he is to convince Benitez he is worthy of a contract extension.

Jamie Carragher

Carragher recently admitted that he did not know if Liverpool would offer him another contract, and it would not trouble him if he had to look for a new club in the summer. Carragher still has one year left on his contract, but is yet to discuss an extension with Liverpool.

Carragher’s form has dipped with that of the team this season, and whilst he’s approaching the end of his career, at 32 years old, Liverpool could choose to cash in on the player this summer, especially as Carragher has publicly stated he would move on without fuss.

Carragher has played over 300 matches for Liverpool, and it’s unlikely, despite his outspoken comments, and inconsistent form, that the defender will move on. Aside from any potential fee hardly enabling Liverpool to rebuild, Carragher’s versatility and ability still renders him an asset.

Liverpool need to add to, not deplete, their current squad if they are to challenge for top honours next season. However, unless major investment is forthcoming, Liverpool’s turnover is likely to be swallowed up by interest and loan repayments, and would need to sell before they buy.

The caliber of player Liverpool can hope to attract by selling any of the aforementioned is unlikely to meet the criteria set out by Torres last week. In fact, the only way Benitez could hope to overhaul the squad, would be to sell either Torres, Gerrard or both. With this an unlikely scenario, only one thing remains clear. Christian Purslow had better secure investment, or Liverpool will fall further behind than they already have next season.

Any glaring omissions? Who would you like to see shipped out this summer?

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