With 2014/15 having been, so far, a massive disappointment for Liverpool, January presents a much-needed opportunity to get the wheels at Anfield back on track and spinning towards the aim of a top four finish. Even with a summer of major additions – over £100m spent – and one massive exit – Luis Suarez to Barcelona – more transfer work needs to be done, with addressing concerns in both boxes needed.
Although Brendan Rodgers has suggested that it may not be a busy month on Merseyside, we think it could be – after all, the Northern Irishman claimed he’d never sign Mario Balotelli – and here are four we think should come in, and four who we believe have to go…
With 17 goals in 19 Ligue 1 outings this term, Lacazette is once again on Liverpool’s radar. All the noises coming out of Lyon suggest that a deal will not be done, but the harsh financial reality is that big money is likely to be too tempting for the Stade Gerland side. Valued at between £15m – £20m, the 23-year-old’s stock is at a real high, so cashing in may make sense, and it’s clear that Liverpool need to spend to solve their striker issues…
In terms of league statistics, Lacazette has absolutely wiped the floor with the Reds’ current crop of players, heavily out-doing Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini, Rickie Lambert and the injury-hit Daniel Sturridge in every key way. Worth a go? Erm… YES!
And to make way has to be Rickie Lambert. The Merseyside-born forward’s fairytale switch has been a nightmare so far, with game time having been hard to come by. With 589 minutes of league action to his name, the 32-year-old has only managed one goal, registering a shot accuracy score of 40% – which is lower than even Balotelli.
Even with this woeful six months under his belt, Lambert’s stock remains high at the lower end of the Premier League, with the likes of Crystal Palace attracted to the form he showed while at Southampton.
With Simon ‘Flap and Concede’ Mignolet having lost every shred of confidence he gained at the start of last season, it’s quite clear that Liverpool need a new goalie. Neto of Fiorentina seems to be a standout contender, with the La Viola man’s contract due to end in a little under six months’ time – a £3m fee has been reported as ‘acceptable’ for his signature as a result.
When compared to Mignolet, the Brazilian stopper has registered more league clean sheets and conceded fewer goals – albeit he’s played two fewer games – and has a far superior saves-per-game ratio. His distribution accuracy is also excellent at 76%, which would help with Rodgers’ desire to build from the back. In fact, Neto’s statistics are respectable when compared to, arguably, the Premier League’s best goalkeeper of the season, David de Gea.
The “calculated risk” has turned out to be a gamble that was well and truly not worth taking. The controversial Italian was dubbed the man to ill the Luis Suarez-shaped void in Liverpool’s frontline, but with just two goals to his name – neither in the Premier League – ‘Super Mario’ looks lost at Anfield.
Even though the deal to get him from AC Milan only went through during August, reports have been claiming for a while that Serie A interest in the attacker is genuine, with the likes of Napoli and Inter Milan having been linked with moves. Shipping out the troublesome 24-year-old at a hit – a fee of £10m would be fantastic business – makes sense, with ‘Balo’ having even been relegated to the bench for Monday’s trip to AFC Wimbledon.
Muted celebrations as he notched four in the FA Cup win over Gateshead on Saturday suggest that all is not well between Berahino and West Brom. The 21-year-old has enjoyed a great start to the season – 13 efforts in 24 games – with his form earning a first call-up to the England senior squad.
A fee of somewhere between £14m – £23m has been mooted, and Liverpool’s genuine interest may lead to an offer in the lower end of that scale due to the managerial upheaval at the Hawthorns.
Although back in the Liverpool XI of late, Lucas is a player who is still being tipped for a January move away from Merseyside. The Brazil star has overcome adversity during his Reds career, but with his years advancing, mobility is becoming an issue, and with interest from, mainly, Italy strong, it may be time to cash in.
With Emre Can waiting for his chance in his favoured midfield role, Liverpool have a ready-made replacement who can provide more energy alongside Steven Gerrard in the centre of the field – which is a well-known issue.
Gerrard’s end of season exit very public news, planning for life without the 34-year-old is now a pressing issue for Liverpool. The local hero has been an ever present in the Reds’ XI for almost as long as the majority of fans can remember, and life without him will be tricky.
A direct replacement is not what Rodgers is likely to go for, and instead it’s probable that the Northern Irishman will look to get in a more orthodox defensive option to sit in the middle. Aston Villa’s Delph is the player being mooted, and there’s not too much of a difference between the young England man and the former Three Lions captain in some of the key statistics needed to play the anchor role. With Delph’s contract due to end in under six months, a minimal fee will be needed – £5m has been mooted – which will appeal to Liverpool’s ‘money men’.
Even Borini would find it difficult to justify Borini staying at Liverpool beyond January. The Italian rejected £14m moves to Sunderland and QPR over the summer in a bid to fight for his Anfield future after a loan spell at the Stadium of Light, and in his, albeit minimal, game time, he has largely struggled to justify the decision.
Rodgers himself appears keen to axe his first signing as Liverpool boss in 2012, although a hit on the fees offer six months ago is a clear reality.