This summer was always going to be a pivotal one for those with any attachment to Liverpool football club. The Premier League side have looked to accelerate their transition away from the mid-table mediocrity of the previous few seasons back towards the Champions League.
Liverpool have already been extremely busy in terms of acquisitions this summer, but with a retired Carragher and ageing Steven Gerrard does the business so far suggest the club have got their priorities all wrong?
The two main financial outlays to date have been the purchase of Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto from Celta Vigo and Sevilla respectively. They both represent promising attacking options for the club and their captures have suggested to many that they could fit the bill as potential Luis Suarez replacements. As I have said in previous articles, world-class players are categorised as such because they are irreplaceable. What a club like Liverpool can do to cushion such a loss is to bring in replacements in a similar area that could offer the manager genuine quality. By overloading their attacking options I think this is the exact strategy that Liverpool have sought to implement this summer.
What has turned this perceived transfer tactic on its head was comments made by owner John W. Henry in the last few days. He had the following to say when speaking to various newspapers about the Suarez issue:
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“We are not going to sell Luis,” Henry told various newspapers. “It’s very important [not to sell to a rival], but especially for Liverpool because we’re not in Europe this year.”
He also added that the reason was a lack of time to reinvest the money and find a replacement.
“He won’t be sold even if a foreign club comes in because we do not have time to sign a suitable replacement.
“It’s not about finances. So late in the window… we can’t replace him. So for football reasons we can’t sell, and especially to Arsenal.”
These comments, if they are to be believed, should on the face of it be a cause for optimism among fans. Retaining someone who is considered to be amongst the very best footballers in the world is huge for a club of Liverpool’s current footballing standing. However, if Aspas and Alberto were not signed as Suarez replacements then surely Liverpool’s transfer strategy this summer has been totally misguided?
The major priorities in the long term for Liverpool are replacing two of the clubs favourite sons. The retirement of Jamie Carragher has left a cavernous hole at the heart of the defence and on last seasons performances I do not think Martin Skrtel is the one to fill it. Similarly, whilst a shrewd acquisition in my eyes, the deal for Kolo Toure represents nothing more than a bit of short term cover whilst a long-term replacement is being sought. A deal to bring in the highly regarded Greek centre back Kyriakos Papadopoulos from Schalke has been mooted this summer and this is surely the kind of long-term capture the club should looking towards.
Steven Gerrard has through years of unrelenting service carved out his own dynasty at the club. Very few in our modern game our deserving recipients of legendary status, but I think those in the game are unequivocal in their admiration for the hometown hero. It will be with a heavy heart therefore that the next few seasons will see a gradual bowing out for the midfielder. Replacing Steven Gerrard would be a monumental task for any club, especially Liverpool who have for so long relied on his influence in the middle of the park. Planning for a change in guard should be happening now, and the lack of midfield transfer activity should be of huge concern to supporters. If Liverpool want to ease the Gerrard transition then the replacement must be found long before he finally retires or else the club risks a footballing vacuum in years to come.
What makes the Liverpool priorities so odd this summer is the clear signal that there is money at Rogers’ disposal. The £9.5m spent on the Belgian stopper Simon Mignolet represents a reasonable sum in the market for keepers. Would this figure not have been better spent elsewhere? Pepe Reina may well have seen a dip in form of late, but the loyal Spaniard is surely still a decent enough keeper to maintain his berth in the coming years. I accept Mignolet is an improvement, but was it a necessary one?
Liverpool’s current spending priorities this summer should be of extreme concern. The have appeared fixated with replacing a footballer who now according to their owner may well be staying. Even if he is still to leave, there is a huge neglect of other more pressing areas of the squad that look to be lacking in quality. Without replacements for Gerrard and Carragher, the club could see themselves cemented in this state of decline for years to come.
Have Liverpool got their priorities wrong this summer?
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