In a bid to quash expectations after their sensational runner-up finish in the Premier League last season, Brendan Rodgers has continually insisted that Liverpool’s only ambition this year is maintaining their Champions League status.
He spent over £100million in the summer, fuelled by Barcelona’s swoop for Luis Suarez, to make that that target a reality, but the Reds already have some catching up to do – they’re currently seventh in the Premier League, three points behind fourth-place Arsenal.
It could take a couple of astute January additions to ensure Liverpool make it over the line for the Premier League’s top four, so with that in mind, here’s a list of FIVE reinforcements to guarantee the Reds’ Champions League participation for another campaign.
With question marks continuing to circle Liverpool No.1 Simon Mignolet, the Reds have been linked with a plethora of alternative goalkeepers ahead of the January window. World Cup sensation Guillermo Ochoa and Espanyol star Kiko Casilla are currently receiving the majority of column inches.
But in my opinion, if the Anfield side are to strengthen between the sticks, they may as well go the whole hog and launch a bid for Chelsea’s Petr Cech.
Arguably the greatest goalkeeper in Premier League history, the Czech international has unfortunately found himself overtaken in the pecking order by 22-year-old world-beater Thibaut Courtois this season.
He’s keen to fight for his place at Stamford Bridge and boosting Chelsea’s goalkeeping depth enormously, Jose Mourinho is under no hurry to sell.
But even struggling for game-time in the auxiliary tournaments this year, registering just four outings in total, his perspective may have changed by the new year.
With 474 appearances for Chelsea, including a centenary in Europe, Cech’s blend of quality and experience – in addition to his eternally composed demeanour -could breed a new sense of calmness in Liverpool’s chaotic backline. Here’s a look at some of his best ever saves for the Blues:
Whether Chelsea would be prepared to offload the 32-year-old to another Premier League side remains to be seen however, especially with a host of foreign clubs already linked to his signature:
— Metro Sport (@Metro_Sport) October 23, 2014
Liverpool have struggled to find the right balance in the middle of the park this season and some added quality to compliment the more industrious styles of Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen certainly wouldn’t go amiss – especially with Steven Gerrard’s influence on the starting Xi appearing to finally wane. Interestingly, the Reds have been linked with former Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye, who appears to be on his way out at PSG:
The France international is well-proven in the English top flight, having bagged 17 goals in 79 appearances for the Magpies and almost secured their Champions League qualification in 2011/12 with a number of talismanic displays. Here’s some of the highlights from his Tyneside spell:
Unfortunately, things haven’t quite taken off for him at PSG, as shown in the statistics below, and the 28 year-old could force a move in January to improve his chances within the French national team set-up.
Is he too similar to Steven Gerrard in some respects? Perhaps, but a cultured-yet-gritty midfielder, Cabaye would massively improve Brendan Rodgers’ options in the middle of the park.
No disrespect to Kolo Toure, but his inclusion in Liverpool’s starting XI against Real Madrid said far more about the major concerns surrounding the Reds’ defence than it did the 33-year-old’s quality. Clearly, Brendan Rodgers doesn’t trust Mamadou Sakho or summer signing Dejan Lovren.
Thus, another centre-back is required in January, but having already splashed out over £40million in that department over the last two summers, through Sakho, Lovren and Tiago Ilori, it’ll have to come at limited cost.
Step up West Ham defender Winston Reid, who recently revealed he’s in ‘no hurry’ to extend his Upton Park contract past the end of the season:
— Breaking London News (@LondonNewsUK) October 15, 2014
In footballing terms, the New Zealand skipper may not be the most talented player to ever grace Anfield. But a master of the nuts and bolts of the defensive trade, he’s demonstrated a remarkable consistency since the East Londoners returned to the top flight in 2012, winning the Hammer of the Year award twelve months later. Here’s a look at Reid’s vitals over the last few seasons: And a look at the 26 year-old in action: His simple-yet-effective approach could be exactly what Liverpool need to balance out their more flamboyant, less reliable defenders. It’s likely the Hammers will be forced to sell for a nominal fee, but Arsenal and Manchester United have also been linked:
Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez has taken to the Premier League exceptionally well, and former Barcelona team-mate Pedro has the potential to do the same.
Although perhaps lacking the Chilean’s strength and stockiness, he’s industrious, versatile and likes to get on the score-sheet, netting 88 times in 276 appearances for the La Liga giants – with plenty of assists along the way too. Here’s a look at some of Pedro’s best ever strikes:
Furthermore, the 27-year-old’s future at the Nou Camp has been open to speculation for some time. Recent speculation claims he’s on the verge of signing a new contract:
— FootballFanCast.com (@FootballFanCast) October 13, 2014
But nothing concrete has materialised just yet, and with Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez undoubtedly the Catalan side’s front-three of the future, the Spanish winger is slowly being pushed into a bit-part role. With two Champions Leagues on his CV, in addition to a World Cup and a European Championship with La Roja, there’s no doubting Pedro’s pedigree. The Barcelona star’s fast-paced, hard-working attacking style could make him the successor to Luis Suarez Liverpool failed to source during the summer, and he’s already been linked with an Anfield switch by BBC Sport:
Manchester City stalwart James Milner is a man for all occasions. Offering an impressive mixture of consistency, versatility, experience and quality, he’s arguably the best squad player in the Premier League.
Indeed, he can operate anywhere across the middle of the park and has even been tested at right-back by England, whilst Milner’s top flight credentials are undoubted, amassing 395 Premier League appearances throughout spells with Leeds, Newcastle, Aston Villa and the Citizens.
The 28-year-old has been enjoying some strong form this season too, as detailed below:
And just in case you needed further evidence of his quality, how about this absolute stunner against Bayern Munich last season:
The 51-cap England international’s contract is up at the end of the season, and although he’s stated his ambition to sign a new deal:
— The Sun – Football (@TheSunFootball) October 17, 2014
…the Citizens are yet to reciprocate. A decent offer, potentially around the £10million mark, could convince the Premier League champions to sell in January.