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Talent to compete? Liverpool may need these five in January

A much-needed weekend win has prompted Brendan Rodgers to come out swinging punches as he attempts to defend his increasingly suspect future at Anfield. The Northern Irishman was under pressure at the back end of last season after failing to mount a serious top four challenge, and the below par start to the current campaign has done little to keep attention away from the looming shadows of available managers such as Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti.

“If you give me the tools, I’ll do the work” are the latest words from Rodgers, who despite spending around £60m on Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino over the summer is clearly annoyed that he’s not been given the players he needs. To be fair to the ex-Swansea boss, he’s lost Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling over the course of the past two years, while Daniel Sturridge’s injury woes have robbed him of, arguably, one of the best centre-forwards in the Premier League, so perhaps he does deserve some backing in January… assuming he makes it that far!

With that in mind, here are FIVE possible transfer targets…

Victor Valdes

After being linked with the veteran Spaniard around the same time last year, the Reds are (well, according to reports) looking at him again, despite the fact he’s way across the Manchester/Liverpool divide. The last player to move between the two fierce rivals was Phil Chisnell way back in 1964, but with Simon Mignolet back to his flappy worst and Rodgers in desperate need of some defensive solidity, the former Barcelona man could be worth breaking the record for.

In terms of his future at Manchester, Valdes appears to not have one, and even though the two clubs are hardly on speaking terms, perhaps the Red Devils should listen to a cash offer from Anfield rather than let their man simply leave for free at the end of the season when his contact expires.

Although he’ll be 34 in January, the former La Roja star still has a few years left in the tank and could be a genuine Mignolet upgrade. The Belgian could have done better for both of Aston Villa ‘s goals on Saturday, while a week previous his error cost the Merseysiders a vital point against Norwich. The above stats show how worrying his performances have been.

Andrea Ranocchia

Although Rodgers’ side’s defence went un-penetrated during the first three games of the season, the subsequent four league matches have resulted in the ball hitting the back of the Reds’ net on nine occasions, while cheap goals in the Europa League and League Cup – the latter against League Two opposition – have cost the club points and forced a penalty shot-out. Some of the blame must be laid at the door of the Kop outfit’s defenders, with Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho having all struggled at times, while German youngster Emre Can – who’s been used in a three-man backline – is not a natural centre-back. Lovren is currently out injured, which has exposed the lack of depth in the Anfielders’ ranks – veteran Kolo Toure is on the verge of being a regular – so, perhaps, a new addition is needed. There aren’t too many top-class options readily available to a non-Champions League side, but Ranocchia of Inter Milan could be worth consideration. The 6ft. 5” Italy international was the Nerazzurri’s captain last year, but has fallen out of favour with manager Roberto Mancini and is already looking at a January exit.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

A bit further up the field, Liverpool could do with greater quality and guile around the edge of the area. Before the three-goal haul against Villa on Saturday, Rodgers’ men had netted just four goals in six league games, with only a further two coming in cup action to boot. Worrying given that the club have invested heavily in star name such as Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino.

Perhaps then a long-term target in the shape of Mkhitaryan should be back on the agenda, with the Armenian currently tearing it up with Dortmund in Bundesliga action. In seven appearances, the versatile midfielder has notched three goals and three assists, illustrating his ability to contribute in the final third from a wide role. Although he’s spent this season on the left flank, the Eastern European can also function on the right side, as a ‘No.10’, in central midfield or even as a striker.

Jetro Willems

Left-back has become rather an issue at Liverpool. Joe Gomez started the season playing out of his natural right-sided centre-back role, while the re-introduction of Alberto Moreno has coincided with a move to a 3-4-1-2 formation, with the Spaniard’s defensive capabilities clearly not fully trusted.

PSV Eindhoven and Netherlands full-back Willems has emerged as a target with as contract talks with the Eredivisie champions continue to stall, and at the age of 21 with plenty of experience to his name already he could potentially be the answer.

Denis Cheryshev

Linked with Liverpool throughout the summer, Russia international Cheryshev would add depth and pace to Rodgers’ attacking ranks. Although the 24-year-old, who was on loan at Villarreal last season, has stayed at Real Madrid he’s managed just 13 minutes of La Liga action so far this term and looks unlikely to get a great deal more between now and January with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Isco all ahead of him in Rafa Benitez’s pecking order.

Cheryshev managed four goals and nine assists for the Yellow Submarine in 2014/15, which confirms that can contribute from out wide.

Article title: Talent to compete? Liverpool may need these five in January

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