Five key transfer issues Liverpool must address this month

It seems only yesterday it’s summer counterpart slammed shut but the January transfer window is now upon us, in what often constitutes a rather chaotic time of year for Premier League clubs.

Brendan Rodgers has insisted it will be a rather quiet one for Liverpool, despite the stuttered start to the Reds’ league campaign, but there are a number of issues the Anfield boss needs to address this month, on both the inward and outward fronts.

And being the ever-helpful bunch we are at Football Fancast, we’ve decided to list FIVE of them for your enjoyment. So without further ado…

LIVERPOOL’S NO.1

Mignolet
Brendan Rodgers has claimed Liverpool won’t be up to much – or in fact, anything – in the transfer market this month. But if there’s one area Liverpool will look to strengthen, despite the gaffer’s claims otherwise, it will almost certainly be between the sticks.

Simon Mignolet was ‘dropped for an indefinite period‘ in mid-December following a string of individual errors and now finds himself in Liverpool’s starting Xi once again only due to Brad Jones’ recent injury, so Rodgers’ diminishing faith in the Belgium international has, quite clearly, reached breaking point.

The Reds need an upgrade – and could potentially even boot Mignolet out the Anfield exit door this January – but admittedly, viable transfer targets aren’t exactly forthcoming at the minute.

The sale of Mark Schwarzer to Leicester City suggests Chelsea aren’t prepared to let go of Petr Cech this month, undoubtedly Liverpool’s first choice in hypothetical terms, whilst it seems unlikely Stoke City would surrender reported Reds target Asmir Begovic halfway through the season.

Genoa’s Mattia Perrin, Hamburg’s Timo Horn and Espanyol’s Kiko Casilla have often been mooted as potential Mignolet replacements, but Mirror Football speculate a significantly cheaper move for £2million-rated Fiorentina ‘keeper Neto.

WHAT BECOMES OF MARIO BALOTELLI?

Liverpool v West Bromwich Albion - Barclays Premier League
Brendan Rodgers insists Mario Balotelli isn’t for sale this January, but the temptation to offload the goalless striker after an abject six months at Anfield will surely grow if Liverpool are approached with a reasonable offer.

Not only is the Italian international yet to find his first Premier League goal for the Reds, but he also appears to be completely opposed to the industrious, free-flowing, counter-attacking style of play that came to define Liverpool last season.

Of course, one would naturally assume that there isn’t too much demand for a 24 year-old that’s now failed to hit the heights expected at Inter Milan, AC Milan, Manchester City and Liverpool, before leaving the prior three clubs largely due to his disruptive behaviour, but Serie A champions Juventus have surprisingly emerged as potential suitors.

Manager Massimo Allegri is quoted as saying “We would like to recruit him, but we do not know if it’s possible” by the Liverpool Echo – but it remains to be seen if Brendan Rodgers has admitted defeat with the enigmatic Italian just yet.

Steven Gerrard’s successor

AFC Wimbledon v Liverpool - FA Cup Third Round
Perhaps an issue that can be delayed until the summer – but why not start the transition process now?

Skipper Steven Gerrard revealed last week that he’ll leave Liverpool at the end of the season, since confirming rumours that he’ll join LA Galaxy in the MLS, making the issue of his eventual successor more prominent than ever at Anfield.

Of course, there’s no direct replacement for the Reds’ Captain Fantastic but certainly some options worth considering. Cultured-yet-industrious playmaker Yohan Cabaye for example, who once claimed 18 goals and 15 assists in 93 appearances for Newcastle, is reportedly considering his future at PSG and could be available for £20million this month.

Then there’s the often-linked-to-Liverpool Morgan Schneiderlin, now into his third Premier League campaign and proving himself to be one of the English top flight’s leading enforcers once again at Southampton. He’s rated at a whopping £25million however.

Or perhaps the cheapest and therefore most realistic option – Aston Villa contract rebel Fabian Delph. In a sensational twelve months, the energetic midfielder bagged last term’s Villain of the Year award and more recently a regular spot in Roy Hodgson’s England squad. Paul Lambert claims he’s not for sale but having recently rejected improved terms on his expiring deal, it’s likely the Midlands outfit will let the 25 year-old leave for the right price.

Fringe players

Liverpool v Swansea City - Capital One Cup Fourth Round
In-part a consequence of some poorly thought acquisitions since Brendan Rodgers became Anfield boss in summer 2012, the deadwood has started to stockpile at Liverpool this season.

The Reds have already taken some action on this front – terminating Oussama Assaidi’s loan spell at Stoke City to sell him to Middle East side Al-Ahli – but there are still a number of fringe players whose futures remain in doubt; particularly, Fabio Borini, Jose Enrique, Lucas Leiva, Glen Johnson and Rickie Lambert.

Borini was expected to leave Merseyside during the summer and has since gone on to see just 275 minutes’ worth of Premier League action – suggesting Rodgers is more than prepared to axe the Italian as soon as a suitor meets Liverpool’s valuation. The Daily Mail claimed in December that Sunderland, for whom the forward netted ten times on loan last season, could revive their summer interest.

Meanwhile, Glen Johnson’s contract is coming to an end in the summer and having fallen afoul of the Anfield faithful on many occasions, moving on this January appears to be the best outcome for all parties involved.

Jose Enrique and Rickie Lambert, despite the latter only joining Liverpool in the summer, haven’t seen the amount of football they’d like to this season and for that reason alone could request moves away. Alan Pardew wanted to bring the England international to Crystal Palace, but believes he’s hell-bent on fighting for his place at Liverpool.

And finally, Lucas Leiva. He offers the Reds’ midfield something intrinsically different and that could spare his fate until the summer. But the Brazilian clearly isn’t a major fixture in Rodgers’ long-term plans, issuing him just ten Premier League starts so far this term, and his admirers in Italy are well-known.

SAIDO BERAHINO

West Bromwich Albion v Burnley - Barclays Premier League
Needless to say, the response to news that Liverpool were plotting a £20million bid for West Bromwich Albion striker Saido Berahino wasn’t a particularly positive one from the majority of Liverpool fans.

It’s an outrageous amount of money to spend on a player so young, aged just 21, but there are some potential consequences for the Reds to consider if they don’t land the Burundi-born front-man now.

Having netted nine times in 21 Premier League outings this term, Berahino’s value could escalate out of all proportion by the end of the season if his goals keep the Baggies in the top flight – meaning Liverpool will eventually have to pay even more.

Additionally, if the Reds fail to act this month, there’s strong evidence to suggest another top club could beat them to the youngster’s signature. Tottenham are also reported as involved in the race whilst Manchester City – who are desperate for young and talented home-grown players – could also emerge as potential suitors.

 


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