Even though he claimed to have answered his critics with a Merseyside derby goal, there are still more questions than answers being raised by the ageing Liverpool captain’s performances on a weekly basis. As a legend of the game and a true Reds hero, it’s becoming a little sad to see the 34-year-old being given the run-around by the likes of Stewart Downing, with his once fearsome pace and power now dwindling.
Gerrard has been written off a few times in the past and has always come back, but there’s no doubting that Brendan Rodgers will have to address the problem with his holding midfielder soon or risk the season getting away from his side before Christmas. There is no need to bomb ‘Stevie G’ out yet, but here are five options chiefs at Anfield may want to consider to solve the issue…
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With his contract ticking towards its expiry at the end of the season, the Real Madrid man is set to be a bargain basement option for January. Khedira is after a big contract at the age of 27, but with a fee of, potentially, less than £10m for a World Cup winner being mooted, surely this one makes sense for Brendan Rodgers.
Through he career with Real and Stuttgart, the German star has shown excellent passing skills and a combative edge, as well as a willingness to get forward and support his team-mates. He could slot in straight away to allow Gerrard to get forward with a little more regularity and free him up from the physical strains of protecting his backline.
If Liverpool cannot get Khedira, why not get the man backed to replace him at international level? When the Real Madrid man missed the World Cup Final through injury, 23-year-old Kramer stepped in to fill the void. For a player with minimal international experience he performed admirably in the biggest game football has to offer, suggesting that he will develop into a top class player.
Kramer is one of Borussia Monchengladbach’s key men, but reports have suggested that offers of around £20m for the enforcer may be accepted. The likes of Arsenal and Chelsea have also been linked with him.
This move would be a double whammy for the Reds if they could pull it off, with Strootman one of the best holding midfielders around and a long-term target for bitter rivals Manchester United. Speculation suggests that the Dutch ace is ready to leave Roma when he returns from a long-term knee injury, which may render the Italians’ desire to keep him useless.
United are very, very keen, but if Liverpool can get their top four push back on track and qualify for the knockout phase of the Champions League they could outpunch their foes to lure the 24-year-old to Anfield.
Strootman’s stats in Serie A were mightily impressive last season, but much depends on his recovery.
Liverpool may not have to look too far for Gerrard’s replacement, with newbie Can a possible option. The German U-21 star arrived at Anfield over the summer with a burgeoning reputation, but he impact on Merseyside has been limited so far thanks to a niggling injury picked up while away with his country – which the 20-year-old is due to return from next month.
Powerful, athletic and composed on the ball, Can really impressed for Bayer Leverkusen last season before Liverpool triggered his £9.75m release clause. Reports have suggested that he is seen as a natural successor to Gerrard in the holding midfield role, with his mobility making him a, potentially, better option for the hectic winter months.
Should Emre Can succeed Gerrard in a holding midfield role, then Hamsik could be brought in from Napoli to replace the driving intent the skipper used to bring. Liverpool are reportedly in contact with the Slovakian’s entourage ahead of a potential January swoop after being alerted to the Naples side’s openness to doing business.
Hamsik has been one of Serie A’s top performers for some time, with his stats above illustrating just what an impact he has had on Napoli’s rise to the upper end of the division.
If Liverpool can hold on for another year or so with Gerrard in the first-team, then young Rossiter could be ready to step up. Reds heroes such as Robbie Fowler have already dubbed the 17-year-old as the new version of the current skipper, with his driving style of play and fierce determination reminiscent of ‘Stevie G’s’ when he broke into the XI.
Rossiter matches this with composure on the ball with both his passing and finishing (as shown above in his debut goal in the Capital One Cup against Middlesbrough), making him a potential long-term option alongside Jordan Henderson. It may be a bit early for the teenager now, but the future looks bright for him.8