FIVE key questions Brendan Rodgers must answer in January

There may still be two months until the January window, but we at Football Fancast, in addition to every manager in the Premier League, are already preparing for it.

Indeed, it looks set to be a busy one for Liverpool, with the tabloids claiming Brendan Rodgers will be given funds to spend in the new year – most likely on a new centre-forward.

But that’s not the only issue the Anfield boss will need to resolve when the transfer window reopens, and just to prove it, here’s a list of FIVE key questions Rodgers must answer via the transfer market.

[ffc-gallery]CLICK ON THE REDS MANAGER TO REVEAL

Rodgers[/ffc-gallery]

DO LIVERPOOL NEED ANOTHER GOALKEEPER?

Mignolet
This key issue comes with two essential questions; firstly, do Liverpool need to sign a goalkeeper in January? Secondly, if so, is he to replace Simon Mignolet as No.1 or simply provide better competition than hap-hazard understudy Brad Jones?

I’d argue the Reds have already got good value out of their £9million signing, but he’s never far away from criticism and there’s a common opinion that Liverpool need an upgrade between the sticks.

Indeed, Mignolet was at fault for both of Manchester City’s goals amid their 2-1 victory over Liverpool at the Etihad last season, whilst Sky Sports pundits Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville even found grounds to scrutinise his efforts to save Phil Jagielka’s wonder-goal in the Merseyside derby:

Rather than belonging to the European goalkeeping elite, the 26 year-old is more one of the best of the rest. So where do Liverpool go from here?

Well, Brendan Rodgers clearly doesn’t fancy former Barcelona star Victor Valdes, currently a free agent, allowing him to go on trial with Manchester United instead:

But Espanyol ‘keeper Kiko Casilla, whose impressive performances have seen him claim the third-choice spot in Vincente del Bosque’s Spain squad, has been linked by the tabloids:

He’s bagged four clean sheets in eight appearances this season and is currently second in La Liga’s saves charts:

casilla saves

Here’s a look at the 28 year-old in action:

A more jugular option might come in the form of Chelsea’s Petr Cech. The Czech international has vowed 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 competitions this season, thus far featuring just once in the Champions League, it’s likely the 32 year-old can be prized away in January. Here’s a look at some of his best ever saves for the Blues:

But whether Chelsea would be prepared to surrender one of world football’s top goalkeepers to another Premier League side remains to be seen.

Sell now or wait until the summer?

Glen Johnson
There’s a number of players on the Liverpool roster whose Anfield careers are effectively over already. At this point, the only genuine decision Brendan Rodgers has to make is whether to sell in January or at the end of the season.

Take Glen Johnson for example, who rejected a one-year contract extension during the summer – with his current deal set to expire in 2015. According to the tabloids, the right-back has already been told he’ll be allowed to leave Merseyside at the end of the season:

His experience could prove vital to Liverpool’s leaky backline between now and May-time, but Brendan Rodgers may as well cash-in when the transfer market reopens and add a few pennies to his budget.

Likewise, Fabio Borini was widely expected to leave Anfield this summer, with Liverpool accepting a £14million bid from Sunderland after the Italian claimed ten goals on loan at the Stadium of Light last season.

But the 23 year-old reject Sunderland’s advances, instead using Twitter to profess his manhood and desire to fight for his place on Merseyside:

Since going on to receive just 94 minutes of Premier League action however, Brendan Rodgers is clearly freezing the forward out of first team affairs. That suggests the Reds would be prepared to flog him in January, but with Liverpool’s strikeforce still struggling for goals, Borini could prove useful in a cameo role this season. Here’s a look at ‘Il Bomber’ in action:

Then there’s Lucas Leiva, who came close to leaving Anfield during the summer:

He’s experienced, gritty and offers Liverpool’s midfield something a little different. But the Brazilian often struggles to perform when in partnership with Steven Gerrard, which is a quick way to end any Liverpool career.

Having made just two Premier League starts this season, if Napoli revive their interest in January, the Reds are almost certain to sell.

MARIO BALOTELLI – Does he stay or does he go?

Balotelli
According to the tabloids, the car-crash start to Mario Balotelli’s Liverpool tenure could be ended as early as January, making it just six months on Merseyside:

Indeed, Napoli are allegedly interested and Brendan Rodgers hasn’t helped the situation by refusing to rule out a January departure for the misfiring Italian.

The 23 year-old will have received a huge boost from scoring a dramatic equaliser against Swansea in the Capital One Cup yesterday evening, only his second goal in twelve appearances for the Reds:

But yet to get off the mark in the mark in the Premier League and clearly alien to Liverpool’s energetic attacking style, it appears Rodgers could be convinced to sell in the new year – something Jamie Carragher has already prophesised.

If so, who comes in as Balotelli’s replacement?

Bony1
So if Balotelli were to leave Liverpool in January, the question remains; who comes in as the enigmatic Italian’s replacement?

There’s already a number of centre-forwards on the Anfield radar, such as Swansea’s Wilfried Bony who was strongly linked with a Mersey move during the summer:

The 25 year-old’s £19million release clause is more than affordable and his stock continues to soar with four goals in nine Premier League outings this term, building upon last season’s return of 16 in 34. That includes this rather special goal against Leicester City last weekend:

Then there’s West Brom whipper-snapper Saido Berahino, currently the Premier League’s top-scoring Englishman:

Berahino English

This kid looks like the real deal:

But young, home-grown and obviously talented, the papers are already mooting an outrageous £25million transfer fee:

A significantly cheaper option comes in the form of Schalke’s Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. At 31 years of age, he’s no spring chicken and the Netherlands international’s contribution to open play is infamously poor.

But he boasts stunning returns of 97 in 149 for the Miners and 36 in 66 for Oranje. Here’s a look at Huntelaar’s top five Bundesliga goals:

With his contract at the Veltins Arena winding down, the 6 foot 2 striker could be available for a pittance in January.

WINSTON REID – IS HE NEEDED?

Reid Spurs
According to the tabloids, Liverpool are keen to add to their defensive depth with a winter swoop for West Ham’s Winston Reid:

The 26 year-old may not be the most talented defender to ever grace Anfield, but he’s well proven in the Premier League and currently in ‘no hurry‘ to extend his expiring contract at Upton Park, could prove to be an astute addition.

Liverpool’s defence has certainly lacked confidence and organisation this season – a master of the nuts and bolts of the trade, Reid’s simple-yet-effective style could be the perfect remedy.

But do the Reds really need another centre-half? Brendan Rodgers has invested over £40million in that department over the last two summers, in the form of signings Dejan Lovren, Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori, and the Anfield defence requires greater regularity – not even more new faces.

Reid presents an interesting transfer opportunity, but one that could provide more problems than solutions.

 


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