It’s fair to say that Liverpool are finding life without Luis Suarez a tad difficult this season, and for all the money they spent in the summer, the Reds look decidedly worse without the Uruguayan in their side.
Mario Balotelli has failed to take over Suarez’s goalscoring duties since his summer arrival from AC Milan – having scored a grand total of zero Premier League goals in nine appearances – while the expensively assembled defence has also failed to impress.
It seems that blowing £133.3m on a total of nine new recruits does not make up for the loss of a genuine world star, and Brendan Rodgers may wish to venture into the transfer market again in January to revitalise his side’s faltering campaign.
Here are five players he should consider…
Liverpool are impotent in attack without Daniel Sturridge, and given how injury prone the England international is, the Reds cannot afford to have just one proven goalscorer on their books. Mario Balotelli simply does not fit Rodgers’ template for a striker – pacey, mobile, willing to run in behind defenders – which is why Jackson Martinez should be a primary target. The Porto forward is a hard worker and has scored a hugely impressive 51 goals in 64 appearances for the Portuguese side. At 28 years of age, the Colombian is not getting younger, and the £30 million that is being mooted is certainly steep. However, he is more suited to Rodgers’ style of play than Balotelli, and with the Reds in desperate need for another source of goals, his signing could save their season.
The German has been linked with a move to Anfield for a while, and there is no doubt that Reus would improve the Liverpool side. Versatile, technically gifted and impressively prolific for an attacking midfielder, Reus is one of the brightest talents in European football. Although Liverpool may be particularly strong in his area of the field, the fact that the 25 year-old can play on either flank or even in the middle as a number 10 means that there would always be a place for him in the starting eleven. Contract negotiations between Dortmund and Reus are not going productively, which makes January the ideal time for the Reds to make a move.
Any side that has aspirations to win the league title needs a top quality goalkeeper, and the brutally honest truth is that Liverpool do not have one. Their defensive weaknesses essentially cost them the championship last season, and while the back four must take a portion of the blame for this, Simon Mignolet hardly covered himself in glory either. The Belgian remains shaky at set pieces and his distribution is still questionable, leading many to doubt whether he is the man to hold down a long-term berth between the sticks at Anfield. Spus may be loathe to selling Lloris – whose shot-stopping ability, aptitude at one-on-ones and command of the area makes him one of the world’s finest goalkeepers – yet the Frenchman has made no secret of his desire to play in the Champions League, a privilege the London club cannot offer him. Liverpool can, and signing the gifted 27 year-old would go a long way to improving their solidity at the back.
Since January, Liverpool have spent more than £50 million on their defence, with little to show for it. Mamadou Sakho has not performed on a consistent basis, Dejan Lovren has been quite frankly rubbish, while Alberto Moreno – the most promising of the trio – is still adjusting to English football. The back line has been the Reds’ Achilles heel ever since Rodgers became manager two years ago, and it is something he needs to address urgently. Ashley Williams is a solid, dependable centre back whose organisational skills would be of great benefit to Liverpool. The 30 year-old Welsh international is fully aware of Rodgers’ methods having worked with him while the Reds boss was at Swansea, which means that he should have no trouble in fitting into the side. Whether Williams would want to leave the high-flying Swans for the struggling Reds is up for debate, however.
The supposed decline of Steven Gerrard has been one of the more tiresome arguments of the new season, and the Liverpool captain looks set to quell doubts over his importance to the club for the time being at least by signing a new deal with the Reds. However, at 34 years of age his playing days are numbered, and the Anfield side will sooner or later have to look for a long-term replacement. Gerrard has moved deeper and deeper into midfield as he has grown older, which means that a defensive midfielder is what Liverpool will be looking for once he hangs up his boots. Asier Illarramendi fits the bill perfectly – agile and techincally assured, the 24 year-old would provide effective cover for the back line, arguably more so than the ageing Gerrard. The Basque-born midfielder has found first-team opportunities at Real Madrid limited, making him a realistic option for the Reds.