Liverpool… let’s look at the starting XI you could’ve had

The January transfer window ended on a rather unsurprising yet interesting note, with the biggest deal of deadline day coming in the form of Chelsea’s £23million swoop for Juan Cuadrado – a transfer that had been anticipated for some time.

Liverpool were particularly quiet last month compared to their £120million spending spree in the summer. In fact, they were one of just two Premier League sides, along with Newcastle, that failed to make a single signing.

So, should the Merseysiders be praised for not falling into the many traps of the winter market, or is this a window of missed opportunities for the Reds?

Perhaps this select XI, combining the club’s top performers with rumoured January targets, will shed some light on the debate.

GOALKEEPER – ASMIR BEGOVIC

With Brendan Rodgers’ dwindling faith in Simon Mignolet clearly reaching breaking point, having dropped the Belgium international for ‘an indefinite period’ in December, Liverpool were linked with a number of alternative goalkeepers last month.

That included the likes of Fiorentina’s Neto and Espanyol’s Kiko Casilla, but the best option came in the form of Stoke City’s Asmir Begovic.

The Bosnian international boasts an aerially dominant 6 foot 6 frame and 159 appearances worth of experience in the Premier League. Aged just 27, he still has plenty of years ahead of him and constitutes a long-term investment that could be depreciated over a number of campaigns.

Mirror Football alleged plans for a £10million bid back in November and Begovic later revealed his desire to play at ‘the highest level possible‘ but such an offer eventually failed to materialise.

RIGHT BACK – MARTIN MONTOYA

Having recently declared his ‘100% commitment‘ to leaving Barcelona, I find it incredibly surprising that the Reds failed to launch a bid for long-term target Martin Montoya last month – especially with current No.2s Glen Johnson and Javier Manquillo so hopelessly out of form and his £16million release clause well-known.

The 23 year-old emerged as a regular in Barcelona’s first team squad during the 2012/13 campaign, bursting onto the La Liga scene with a stunning long-range strike against Malaga – a huge testament to his quality on the ball.

Prior and since, he’s amassed 59 appearances for the Catalans across all competitions, but stuck behind right back veteran Dani Alves in the pecking order, it appeared Montoya was hell-bent on leaving the Nou Camp last month.

But none of his suitors, also including Arsenal and Juventus, activated the Spaniard’s buy-out fee and reports since claim he’s now set to sign a new contract with the Catalan club.

CENTRE-BACK – MARTIN SKRTEL

Despite Liverpool’s defensive frailties this season, Martin Skrtel appears to be the only centre-back Brendan Rodgers still trusts, starting him in all but three of the Reds’ Premier League fixtures.

He’s outlasted Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho, despite the duo costing the Anfield outfit a combined £38million over the last two summers, and boasts respectable averages of 3.9 successful aerial duels, 1.2 tackles, 1.9 interceptions and 10.6 clearances per match this term, with a pass completion rate of 91.5%.

Indeed, if the Reds had made defensive adjustments last month, they’d likely have been to accommodate the Slovakian international, rather than to replace him.

CENTRE-BACK – WINSTON REID

With Winston Reid’s contract entering its final six months and the New Zealand skipper keen to join a club that can offer him European football, Liverpool were linked with a last-minute £6.5million swoop for the West Ham defender by Mirror Football on deadline day.

The 26 year-old may not be the most talented centre-back to ever grace Anfield in technical terms, but he’s an undisputed master of the nuts and bolts of the defensive trade – tackles, headers, interceptions and clearances – and is blessed with the awkward, gangly and physical frame of a modern day Martin Keown.

Resultantly, Reid would have been a solid addition to the squad – even if doubts remain over whether or not he’d command a first team slot over Liverpool’s current centre-halves – but none of his mooted Premier League suitors attempted to prize him away from Upton Park on deadline day.

That could be linked with recent reports claiming he’s already agreed to join Tottenham on a free transfer in the summer.

LEFT BACK – ALBERTO MORENO

Arguably Liverpool’s best value-for-money acquisition of the summer, left-back Alberto Moreno has continually impressed since his Anfield arrival, averaging an impressive 2.6 tackles, 1.4 interceptions, 2.3 clearances, and 1.2 chances created per match this term and even proving himself adept in midfield.

No.3 was a real problem area for the Reds previously, with the role divvied between Jose Enrique, Aly Cissokho and Jon Flanagan last term, but in the £12million Spain international they appear to have found a long-term solution.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD – JORDAN HENDERSON

Another Liverpool first teamer whose starting XI status was never in doubt this month, over the last two campaigns Jordan Henderson has flourished into the athletically dominant, all action midfielder he was heralded to become as a Sunderland youngster.

Serving as vice-captain and often stepping on for Steven Gerrard, now managing his game-time selectively at 34 years of age, the England international is widely expected to take the veteran’s place as full-time skipper when he departs for LA Galaxy at the end of the campaign.

In addition to averaging 2.5 tackles and 1.9 created chances per match this term, the 24 year-old has racked up two goals and six assists in 22 Premier League outings.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD – YOHAN CABAYE

Cleary out of favour at current club PSG, managing just nine starts in Ligue 1 this season, former Newcastle star Yohan Cabaye was certainly there for the taking last month.

With Steven Gerrard departing at the end of the campaign, the Reds are in need of an eventual successor and in my opinion, the France international is an ideal candidate, sharing Captain Fantastic’s long-range passing game, midfield industry and potency from dead ball situations.

The 29 year-old is well-proven in the Premier League too, boasting 18 goals and 15 assists in 92 appearances from his two-and-a-half terms on Tyneside.

The Metro claimed in October that the Anfield outfit had entered negotiations for the £20million-rated playmaker, but reports in January alleged Cabaye had snubbed Premier League interest in his services, with Manchester United and Arsenal mooted as fellow suitors, instead preferring to fight for his place at Parc de Princes.

Still a marginal fixture in Laurent Blanc’s plans, we could see the Frenchman return to England in the summer.

ATTACKING MIDFIELD – RAHEEM STERLING

Far from attempting to offload Raheem Sterling in January, Liverpool spent the month trying to tie their prodigy attacker down to a new long-term deal.

With Luis Suarez departing for Barcelona, Steven Gerrard’s influence waning and Daniel Sturridge missing much of the campaign through injury, the England international has become the undisputed star of the Anfield line-up this season, boasting five goals and five assists in 21 Premier League appearances and impressing as an emergency striker over the last few months.

A real talent seemingly adept to any role Brendan Rodgers throws his way, Liverpool will be building around the 20 year-old for the many years to come.

LEFT FORWARD – DANNY INGS

Liverpool spent much of the transfer window attempting to thrash out a deal that would allow them to sign Burnley star Danny Ings before loaning him back to the Turf Moor outfit for the remainder of the campaign.

The 22 year-old has emerged as one of the top flight’s most exciting prospects this term after firing Burnley to the Premier League with 21 goals last year, netting seven goals and grabbing three assists in his last 15 league outings, not to mention an impressive return of four-in-seven for the England U21s.

Their proposed loan arrangement would be prohibited under Premier League laws however, and the The Daily Star speculated they’d attempt to acquire his services outright instead on deadline day.

The move never materialised however, and the Daily Mail report that the England prospect has now agreed a pre-contract deal with David Moyes’ Real Sociedad instead.

LEFT FORWARD – SAIDO BERAHINO

Another home-grown goalscorer alleged to be on the Anfield radar last month was West Bromwich Albion’s Saido Berahino, who boasts a potent return of nine goals in 19 Premier League starts this season, in addition to 10 in 13 for the England U21s.

The 5 foot 11 striker offers an interesting blend of pace, trickery, firepower and positional flexibility, that would particularly suit the Reds’ forward line and Brendan Rodgers’ fluid attacking philosophy.

The tabloids quoted an incredible £23million figure for his services however, with Baggies boss Tony Pulis clearly reluctant to sell, and resultantly, Liverpool’s interest failed to materialise into a formal bid.

STRIKER – DANIEL STURRIDGE

The Reds have missed first choice striker Daniel Sturridge sorely this season, amid his injury absence spanning from August to January, evident enough through the England international scoring upon his return to fitness against West Ham last weekend.

Despite Liverpool being linked by the tabloids to a plethora of alternative front-men during the January window, the 25 year-old’s place in the starting line-up was never in doubt.

With him now back to full health, Brendan Rodgers’ boys will be hoping they can launch a late charge for a Champions League spot this season.