Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers could be forgiven for already counting the days until the January transfer window opens after his side’s reliance on youth in the early stages of this season and the somewhat threadbare nature of his first-team squad, but with resources tight, where will he need to focus his attentions the most?
The 39-year-old has spoken of ‘operational issues’ hindering him in the past, with a clear and knowing nod to the way that the club managed to somehow let Andy Carroll leave on loan in the final few days of the transfer window without a guaranteed replacement lined-up, with Ian Ayre unable to negotiate successfully for either Daniel Sturridge or Clint Dempsey.
Indeed, Rodgers has even spoken this week about the need for reinvestment when the earliest opportunity presents itself, telling The Daily Mail: “There are still areas we want to reinforce — and we have to reinforce as soon as we can. Our best team are comparable to any team in the Premier League. But we’re a very thin squad and we are having to challenge on a lot of fronts. I’ve had good conversations with the owners and they understand where we are at as a team.”
In light of Fabio Borini’s recent fractured foot injury that he suffered while on international duty with Italy’s U-21 side, it only served to compound their transfer failings in recent times, despite the lack of clarity over whether he is best utilised in a wide or central role. As a result, Rodgers looks extremely short on numbers up top, with the burden now falling even heavier on Luis Suarez to perform and provide a consistent stream of goals.
The only other options available aside from the controversial Uruguayan are youth-team players Samed Yesil, Adam Morgan and Daniel Pacheco and none of them can be relied upon to provide ample support to Suarez just yet, with Pacheco in particular in danger of missing the boat completely in terms of his ability to be a relied upon member of the squad.
It becomes clear that despite the midfield weighing in well with their fair share of goals so far, that Liverpool are going to require first and foremost another striker in the transfer window, with Demba Ba and Gary Hooper the latest names rather understandably linked with a move to Anfield in recent days. No other position in the squad offers the same paucity of options and dearth of recognised and established talent and Rodgers may even exercise the call-back option on Carroll’s loan move to West Ham if nothing else materialises.
In midfield, the likes of Gerrard, Sahin, Allen, Henderson, Shelvey and Lucas when he returns from injury provides a more than healthy competition for places, with each player showing a run of form at some point this season and even with the side playing three in the middle of the park, the squad would seem to be well set there.
Next up on the agenda may be another winger and while talk of moving for someone such as Cristian Eriksen may be fanciful at this point, it’s clear that Stewart Downing’s future is in doubt at the moment after a very public falling-out with Rodgers and Sterling and Suso, by virtue of their age and inexperience, along with Assaidi in his first year in England, are going to require some support further down the line.
The recent links to Angelo Ogbonna and Diego Lugano are also completely understandable, with Daniel Agger playing injured at the moment and the jury still out on whether Jamie Carragher can force his way into Rodgers Premier League plans. Quite where this leaves Danny Wilson at the moment remains to be seen, but the presence of the burly Micah Richards mark 2 that is Andre Wisdom means that this can be seen as less urgent for the time being at least.
Finally, Jack Robinson’s run-outs at full-back in the Europa League so far this season have been hugely promising, as has Wisdom’s elevation into the first-team, with Glen Johnson a versatile option, but Jose Enrique’s slump has now become the norm and he could be moved on if a replacement is found, while Martin Kelly is still a long-term casualty.
Liverpool’s squad is full of promise and potential for the future but there’s a suspicion that just a few more injuries during the busy festive period, where the fixtures pile up every year, could leave Rodgers extremely short in several key areas, namely up front and out wide, while more depth at full-back would also be understandable. With the side still competing on four fronts, proven experience is the order of the hour, but whether he’ll be given the budget to bring the quality that’s required into the club is another matter entirely.
Realistically, who would you like to see Brendan Rodgers bring into the club in January? In your opinion, where do Liverpool need to strengthen most?
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