Brendan Rodgers oversaw the most lucrative transfer window in Liverpool’s history this summer as the Merseyside club spent £117million to try and compensate for Luis Suarez’ £65million departure to Barcelona.
But one only need take a quick gander at the Premier League table to realise Rodgers’ expensive gambles in the transfer maket haven’t paid off, with the Reds plummeting down to eleventh place after losing to North West rivals Manchester United on Sunday.
Resultantly, the Anfield gaffer is expected to attack the market once again when it officially reopens, adding quality to his faltering squad whilst also parting with some of it’s ever-mounting deadwood.
With that in mind, here’s a list of Liverpool’s three likeliest departures in the New Year, combined with their three rumoured replacements.
Another frustratingly goalless display against Manchester United has sparked further speculation regarding Mario Balotelli’s future at Liverpool, with The Metro claiming he’ll be ousted from Anfield in January:
— Metro Sport (@Metro_Sport) December 12, 2014
Indeed, the Italian international has endured an atrocious start to his Reds career since moving to Merseyside for £16million last summer.
He’s yet to find the net in ten Premier League outings despite averaging 4.2 shots per match and made many enemies amongst the Liverpool punditry alumni after infamously swapping shirts with Real Madrid’s Pepe at half-time:
The 24 year-old’s poor form combined with a work-shy attitude has done him no favours, and rumours of his Liverpool tenure being cut short to just six months have persisted ever since Brendan Rodgers refused to rule out a January departure in October.
The only issue is whether another club would be prepared to take Balotelli off Liverpool’s hands. He’d been linked with a return to Inter Milan over the last few weeks, but that’s now been ruled out by club vice-president Javier Zanetti:
— Independent Sport (@IndoSport) December 16, 2014
According to Mirror Football, Liverpool are lining up Lyon star Alexandre Lacazette as Mario Balotelli’s January replacement:
— Anfield Road (@anfieldroad) December 16, 2014
The 23 year-old forward burst onto the scene last season with an impressive 22 goals in all competitions, including 15 in the French top flight, which are viewable below:
But he’s built on that impressive haul this season, netting 15 Ligue 1 goals already, to emerge as one of the most proficient strikers in Europe’s top five divisions:
Famed for his blistering pace, build-up play and capacity to play out wide, the French international could be the right man to revitalise Liverpool’s definitive fluidity in attack from last season.
It’s believed Lacazette is rated at around the £15million mark by Lyon, but having only penned new terms in September following summer interest from Newcastle, the French side are under no obligation to sell.
Brendan Rodgers’ decision to drop Simon Mignolet for Liverpool’s most important fixture of the season, against Manchester United on Sunday, spoke volumes about his absence of faith in the Belgium international.
Admittedly, some of Liverpool No.1’s individual errors over recent weeks have been inexcusable. Take this woeful pass against Chelsea for example:
Or this blundered save in the Champions League:
Now dropped for an ‘indefinite period‘, it seems Mignolet’s two-term Anfield career could soon be brought to an abrupt end.
Whether his seemingly inevitable departure takes place in January or the summer however, remains to be seen.
One goalkeeper known to be on the Anfield radar is Stoke City’s Asmir Begovic:
Liverpool target Asmir Begovic is settled at Stoke but admits ambitions to play at ‘the highest level’ http://t.co/IrbfOHbPqX
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) December 7, 2014
The Potters star hasn’t been in the best of form this season when compared to prior campaigns, as detailed below:
But he’s considered to be one of the Premier League’s better ‘keepers outside of the top six and his monolithic presence, measuring in at a lofty 6 foot 6, could breed a new sense of calmness amongst Liverpool’s chaotic defence.
He’s also a very capable shot-stopper; here’s a collection of the Bosnian international’s best ever saves:
The tabloids rate him at around the £10million mark and Stoke already have a long-term replacement in England prodigy Jack Butland.
With just 18 months left on the 27 year-old’s contract, the Potters could be convinced to sell.
Having made just three Premier League appearances this season after returning from injury during the summer, it’s unlikely Liverpool would put up much of a fuss if someone comes calling for Jose Enrique in January.
The 28 year-old is more than proven at Premier League level and has put in some decent Champions League performances this season, despite The Telegraph describing his performance against FC Basel as a ‘masterclass in how not to play left-back‘, as detailed below:
But the Reds invested £12million in 22 year-old Europa League-winning left-back Alberto Moreno the summer, so the chances of Enrique reclaiming his first team place on a permanent basis at Anfield are rather slim.
A potential suitor is yet to truly emerge, but the likeliest scenarios are either a return to Spain for the former Villarreal star or a move to one of the Premier League’s relegation battlers.
Liverpool have been strongly linked with Barcelona youngster Martin Montoya over the last few summers, so they’re widely expected to revive their interest following news that he’ll leave the Nou Camp in January:
Martin Montoya WILL leave Barcelona says agent with Premier League clubs “ready to negotiate”: Liverpool have been… http://t.co/OTaqbA1MTC
— Football-News (@Bot_Football) December 16, 2014
The 23 year-old full-back first drew attention during the 2012/13 campaign after netting this stunner against Malaga:
He’s since impressed in a cameo role for the Catalans, amassing 56 appearances across all competitions and becoming particularly famed for his blend of quality on the ball and adept defending, as shown in the statistics below:
But the former Spain U21 has gone on to make just one league appearance following Luis Enrique’s appointment as Barcelona manager during the summer, paving the way for his now inevitable January departure.
It’s likely Liverpool will have to fork out a figure close to his £16million release clause however, whilst interest from Arsenal could also prove problematic:
Liverpool and Arsenal on ALERT for £16m Barcelona defender Martin Montoya http://t.co/SHzZOhnObb
— Arsenal News (@newsnow_arsenal) December 16, 2014