Even with the weekend win at Stoke, Liverpool are currently 11th in the Premier League table after 13 games, and look a far cry from the swashbuckling force that almost clinched the title last term. While defensive frailties have remained a constant, 16 goals scored – Chelsea have 30 already – is perhaps a greater problem, with Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and the injured Daniel Sturridge having not truly pulled their weight.
A new goalkeeper, right-back and centre-back are needed in January, so Brendan Rodgers may have to do a little bargain hunting in the winter to address his attacking concerns. Here are a few cheaper options for him…
A rumour to have raised its head above the parapet over the weekend is Austin to Liverpool. Despite the relatively unlikely nature of the potential transfer, it hasn’t been completely shot down by Reds fans just yet. The former Poole Town (yep, Poole Town) man has risen up through the Football League in recent times, finally earning a crack at the big time with QPR – whom he fired to promotion last term.
Some believed that Austin may be out of his depth now, but his clever movement and natural instincts in the penalty area have seen him notch seven Premier League goals already, which is over three times the combined total of Liverpool’s crop of forwards in divisional action. QPR are rumoured to be stalling on a new £60,000-per-week deal for their man, which may allow Brendan Rodgers to sneak in with an offer of around £10m.
Certainly a left-field option, Defoe has all the six-yard predatory instincts missing in the Reds’ ranks. The former England international left Spurs to join MLS outfit Toronto earlier this year in a bid to earn a spot in the Three Lions’ World Cup squad and fire the heavily backed Canadian side to the play-offs. Failure on both fronts has led to talk that he could return to the Premier League, with QPR and Leicester both keen.
Although not of the calibre of some targets out there, Defoe has a proven record in English football which may tempt Rodgers as he know the clock is ticking as he sets about securing Champions League football and his job at Anfield. The 32-year-old will command substantial wages, but a transfer fee will be minimal.
Bargain doesn’t necessarily mean cheap. So with that in mind, Doumbia is an option. The CSKA Moscow forward really put himself in the shop window with a wonderful double showing against Manchester City in the Champions League recently, notching three goals and winning the penalty for the other as the Russians secured four points.
Powerful, pacey and deadly in front of goal, the Ivorian may command a fee of around £15m-£20m, but he could worth the outlay with Balotelli and Lambert struggling.
Nicknamed the ‘atomic ant’, Giovinco is an interesting option out there for Liverpool to consider. Despite having been involved in Juventus’ three back-to-back Serie A title wins, the Italy international is rumoured to be available for around £9m as the Old Lady set about clearing deadwood from their squad.
Small in stature, Giovinco does possess good strength and his pace makes him a real threat behind the backline. Able to play as a striker – albeit he’s better in a pair – the 27-year-old is more comfortable in a slightly reserved role or on the flank, meaning he could fit well in Rodgers’ system.
Fresh from impressing against Liverpool over the weekend, the Stoke man may emerge as an option for Rodgers. Once dubbed the ‘new Lionel Messi’, Bojan has spent two spells with Barcelona, as well as time at Roma and AC Milan, in a career that has never truly got going.
The Potters snapped him up for around £1m over the summer, and could be tempted by a quick sale to make a tidy profit. Bojan himself might be using Stoke as a stepping-stone to attract interest, meaning that any big offers are likely to be considered.