Liverpool’s loss of Raheem Sterling this summer has been negated by a number of positive moves in the transfer market by Anfield supremo Brendan Rodgers.
In attack, to offset the Manchester City man’s departure, a number of new players have been brought to the Merseyside club, namely Danny Ings and Roberto Firmino.
A third new offensive face has arrive now, too, with Christian Benteke’s £32.5m deal having finally been completed.
The Aston Villa forward has proven over a number of seasons that he has all the attributes to score goals in the Premier League. Fast, strong, good in the air and with an eye for goal, the Belgium international will bolster Rodgers’ attacking options in 2015/16.
Benteke’s arrival will give Daniel Sturridge some real competition, and lead to less dependence on the injury prone England international to get the goals for the Reds. In fact, along with Sturridge, Benteke and Ings, Rodgers has an overwhelming abundance of strikers at his disposal.
Divock Origi’s loan stint at Lille has come to an end and he has moved to the English club also, giving Rodgers four out-and-out strikers to choose from.
This is even before Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini are taken into consideration, albeit their futures are all up in the air
Although Benteke and Sturridge are likely to be the frontrunners for a place in the Reds’ starting XI, the mere presence of so many centre-forwards insinuates a potential switch in tactics from Rodgers next term. The Northern Irishman has used a number of different systems in his time at Anfield, but more often than not last term deployed a three-man backline in a bespoke 3-4-3 formation.
In attack, this meant one central striker, supported by two attacking midfielders, such as Sterling, Adam Lallana and/or Philippe Coutinho. However, with so many strikers in Rodgers’ squad after Liverpool’s summer transfer business, there is a fair chance that the former Swansea trainer is thinking about resorting to a system with a centre forward pairing.
Whether this is a 4-4-2 or an offset of the classic system remains to be seen, while a 3-5-2 is also an option.
When Luis Suarez was still at the club, Rodgers tinkered with his first XI to get the most out of the Uruguayan and his potent partnership with Sturridge – it may well be that he has to do the same again next term to fit in his new arrivals.
Logic dictates that Benteke and Sturridge are not matched to play alongside each other, even if Rodgers is thinking of fielding them both. The similarities in style are there, with both liking to play on the shoulder and be the furthest man forward.
Suarez was happy and willing to drop slightly deeper to pick up possession and allow Sturridge to be the focal point; whether Benteke has the attributes or inclination to do similar is questionable.
It could well be that it is one or the other, with Firmino as the second striker, as the Brazilian has more creativity and technique than the out-and-out centre forwards and would act as a foil – similar to Suarez.
One thing’s for sure, though, despite Sterling’s exit, Rodgers has more options in attack ahead of 2014/15 than he did last season – so much so that a switch in formation to accommodate more offensive weapons looks necessary.