With the January transfer window now closed, it’s time for Liverpool to start planning their summer recruitment – and the first port of call is always the Bosman market.
The rule, first created in 1995 by the European Court of Justice to allow footballers to move freely upon the expiration of their contracts, has completely changed where power lies in the beautiful game. It’s now the players – not the clubs – that have the upper hand.
Not that the Anfield outfit can’t benefit from picking up players on free transfers – in fact, quite the opposite. And with that in mind, we’ve listed the FIVE contract rebels the Reds should be looking to add to their squad this summer.
Heading for the MLS at the end of the campaign, Liverpool need to find some form of successor to Steven Gerrard this summer. Although Sami Khedira may not be a goalscoring, orchestrating midfielder of quite the same mould, he’s a star-studded, trusted option that would bring energy, dynamism and defensive awareness to the Reds’ engine room.
We are talking about one of the best centre-mids in world football, after all, having claimed a World Cup with Germany and a Champions League title with Real Madrid in summer 2014, with plenty of football still ahead of him at the peak age of 27.
Now into the final six months of his contract, and with Los Blancos signing the likeminded Lucas Silva during the January window, the Mannschaft enforcer will almost certainly be leaving the Bernabeu at the end of the campaign, despite recently insisting he’d be happy to extend his current terms.
Khedira’s injury problems, resulting in just 25 La Liga appearances over the last 18 months, and his alleged wage demands could muffle Liverpool’s interest however, whilst some sourced claim he’s already agreed a pre-contract deal with Bayern Munich.
Right Back has become a real problem area for Liverpool this season, with Glen Johnson and Javier Manquillo both hopelessly out of form and Jon Flanagan yet to return from a summer injury, so much so that Brendan Rodgers has decided to leave full-backs out of the Reds’ formation altogether.
One bosman-bound solution comes in the form of Dani Alves, undisputedly one of the top No.2’s in world football over the last decade as a marauding, skilful and relentlessly energetic right-back with a copious supply of both goals and assists – not to mention two Champions League titles – for Barcelona.
At 31 years of age, the Brazil international isn’t quite the player he once was, although he’s still averaging an impressive 3.9 tackles and 1.2 chances created per match in La Liga. But his experience at the top end of the game, with over 70 Champions League appearances and 79 international caps under his belt, remains undoubted.
Even if recent performances have somewhat rekindled Brendan Rodgers’ faith in Simon Mignolet, Liverpool’s entire goalkeeping department desperately needs an injection of quality this summer, with the Belgian international currently understudied by hap-hazard Aussie Brad Jones and academy man Danny Ward.
One option already reported to be on Liverpool’s radar is Fiorentina contract rebel Neto, who was strongly linked with an Anfield switch during the January window after confirming he won’t be extending terms with the Italian side past the summer.
He’s conceded the second-fewest goals of any regular goalkeeper in Serie A this term, just 13 in 16 appearances, and also kept the fourth-most clean sheets, an impressive seven, whilst his distribution rate of 76% is only bettered throughout the division by Juve’s Gigi Buffon.
The 25 year-old seems ready to ply his trade at a higher level and would be an ideal candidate to contest Mignolet for the No.1 spot. Arsenal have also been mooted as potential suitors by the tabloids, however.
Yet to pen extended terms with Manchester City, the impeccably consistent James Milner is shaping up to be one of the best bargains of the summer window.
What’s not to like about this guy? He’s two-footed, versatile, creative yet hardworking, renowned for his professionalism, home-grown and now boasts 408 games’ worth of experience in the Premier League – alongside an impressive 53 caps for England.
He’s another midfielder that could potentially step into Steven Gerrard’s shoes, but what Brendan Rodgers will admire most in Milner is his flexibility, as a manager who often tinkers with formations, tactics and player roles.
Whether or not Liverpool retain their Champions League status this season however will largely affect the 29 year-old’s interest in moving to Merseyside, having featured in Europe’s top competition for the last five campaigns. Likewise, Arsenal and AC Milan are also keen on the City star, according to The Metro.
Liverpool’s interest in prodigious striker Danny Ings is already well-known, having reportedly attempted to sign him in January and loan him back to Burnley for the remainder of the campaign – a transfer that would be prohibited under Premier League laws.
The 22 year-old endured a slow start to his first top flight campaign, but now boasts an impressive nine goals and four assists in his last 17 Premiership appearances – following the 21 strikes that fuelled the Turf Moor outfit’s Championship promotion bid last season.
In addition to the Ings’ quality in front of goal, it’s his intelligence and mobility that particularly stand out; he’s capable of changing the angle of play in an instant, and has conjured up an impressive 1.2 chances per match this term.