Oh silly season, once again you’re throwing up ridiculous transfer rumour after ridiculous transfer rumour with apparently no necessity for actual facts.
With Liverpool still five points short of a Champions League spot, the Reds are expected to strengthen this January despite spending a whopping £110million in the summer.
And whilst some transfer rumours will excite Anfield supporters, such as an audacious bid for Real Madrid centre-forward Karim Benzema, others, well… not so much.
January is always a uniquely chaotic time of year for Premier League clubs however and anything could happen between now and the end of the transfer window.
With that in mind, here’s the FIVE rumoured transfer targets Liverpool should be avoiding at all costs.
A January window booby-trap of the highest order, although Liverpool-linked forward Saido Berahino remains one of the brightest prospects in the Premier League, Tony Pulis has made it abundantly clear that he’ll fight tooth and nail to keep the 21 year-old at West Bromwich Albion this month.
The tabloids’ £23.5million valuation is already rather overzealous for a striker with just 14 Premier League goals under his belt, so one can only imagine the kind of fee the Baggies would actually demand for surrendering their top scorer amid a heated relegation battle. The whole thing smacks of Andy Carroll Mark II.
Although the England U21’s pace, fluidity and intensity suits Liverpool’s style of play, the Reds would be better off waiting until the summer before attempting to strike a deal.
Barcelona defender Martin Montoya has been flashing on Liverpool’s transfer radar for quite some time, so it’s no surprise that he’s linked with a move to Merseyside this month following news that he plans to leave the Catalan club.
Yet, any potential suitor for the former Spain U21 will likely have to activate his £16.5million release clause. Barcelona won’t be able to sign Montoya’s replacement until 2016, due to their three-window transfer ban, and will expect according reimbursement, whilst the known demand for Montoya throughout Europe, particularly from Arsenal and Juventus, means they’re under no obligation to accept a cut-price offer.
That’s a heck of a fee to pay for a 23 year-old, rather unspectacular No.2 with no Premier League experience – especially amid a campaign in which 3-4-3, a system without full-backs, has become Liverpool’s regular formation.
Decent right-backs are ten a penny – Liverpool already have three on the books in Glen Johnson, Javier Manquillo and forgotten man John Flanagan – and that £16.5million could be better spent on other areas of the squad.
Liverpool have been consistently linked with PSG’s Ezequiel Lavezzi over the last 18 months, suggesting genuine interest, and the rumours have spiked again this January due to the Argentina international missing the French Champions’ winter training camp, resulting in a three-match internal ban.
Some have even mooted him as the successor to Luis Suarez the Reds desperately crave, sharing that South American blend of pace, trickery and tenacity, but I’m yet to be convinced. In fact, the more I watch Lavezzi, the less I like him as a footballer.
Particularly, his output for PSG is rather uninspiring – 14 goals and 12 assists in 73 league appearances – considering how the Parisians have completely dominated the French top flight over the last two seasons.
It’s a barometer of his serial inconsistency, on some occasions looking like a world-beater, on others, looking more League One than Ligue 1, and at 29 years of age, it’s unlikely an Anfield move would bring a greater regularity to Lavezzi’s game.
With Simon Mignolet recently dropped for ‘an indefinite period’ and only returning to the first team fray following an injury to hap-hazard understudy Brad Jones, if Liverpool are to sign anybody this month, it should undoubtedly be another goalkeeper.
But is Norwich City’s John Ruddy, linked with an Anfield move in December, really the answer to the Reds’ woes between the sticks?
The 28 year-old’s form once brought him to the fringes of the England squad and earned him Norwich’s Player of the Year award for 2011/12. But he’s hardly given a good account of himself since, plummeting out of the top flight with the Canaries and making a catalogue of individual errors.
If Ruddy can’t handle the heat of a relegation battle (or the Championship), he’ll struggle at Anfield to an even greater degree than Mignolet. Liverpool need a long-term solution to their goalkeeping problems, not a quick fix.
I’m a big fan of Aston Villa’s Fabian Delph, particularly his blend of work-rate, dynamism and trickery, but I do not see him being anywhere near the standard Liverpool should target to improve their midfield.
For lack of a better description, he’s a poor man’s Jordan Henderson and resultantly, shouldn’t even be mentioned as a viable long-term replacement for Liverpool’s departing skipper Steven Gerrard – whom, coincidentally, Jordan Henderson is a poor man’s version of.
With his contract set to expire at the end of the season, the England international could leave Villa Park on the cheap this month. But if the Reds are to ever become Champions League regulars once again, they need to sign a Gerrard successor with far superior quality and experience.