Wingers and left backs have been Liverpool Football Club’s two problem positions for a long time now. The departure of John Arne Riise and the constant injuries to Fabio Aurelio have left the Reds floundering to find a replacement in the left sided full back position. Andrea Dossena, Emiliano Insua, Daniel Agger, Paul Konchesky and most recently Glen Johnson have all tried to fill Liverpool’s most problematic area. As for wingers, most Reds fans would have to think back to Steve McManaman and John Barnes to think of a genuine out and out winger who could trouble opposition full backs with their speed and skill.
With the arrival of Fenway Sports Group back in October though, the new American owners vowed to rebuild the club and with their actions in the January transfer window, most Reds believe that they are good as their word. Some may say that there was only a net spend of about £2m, but according to Kenny Dalglish, even before the sale of Fernando Torres, there was a sizeable sum available to invest in new players. In fact he stated that the owners were disappointed that they couldn’t get more players in during the transfer window. So it looks like then we can expect some more movement in regards to transfers in the summer. So it is clear that FSG are not poor but I think, with their Moneyball strategy in play, they will be keen to get value for money for the players they bring in.
The most highly touted players who have been linked with Liverpool’s problem positions of left back and on the wings are certainly pretty pricey. Benfica’s 22 year old left back Fabio Coentrao is valued between £25-30m while wingers such as Ashley Young (£18-20m) and Charles N’Zogbia (£15m I’d suggest as Newcastle has a £12m bid rejected) looked to be priced quite beyond their current contract situations and actual value. There are however a couple of cheaper alternatives who could fit the positions being sought just as nicely.
Taye Taiwo (25 year old Marseille left back) – The Nigerian international is only three years older than Coentrao and as his contract runs out in the summer, he is available on a free transfer. Formerly Marseille’s captain and has 40 caps for Nigeria already, Taiwo has a great deal of experience. Although Coentrao is certainly a lot more exciting in the forward areas, Taiwo is definitely more solid defensively and can also be a threat in the final third too with a blistering long range shot on him. A price difference of perhaps £25m, Taiwo could be the way to go for the Reds.
Ibrahim Afellay (24 year old Barcelona winger) – The Dutch international only arrived from PSV Eindhoven in January but has yet to start a league match and reports emanating from Spain suggest that he is concerned a lack of first team football will hamper his international ambitions. Afellay was only signed for €3million due to his contract expiring in the summer and although he now has a contract extending to 2015 with Barca, it is unlikely they will hold out for the £15-20m demanded by the likes of Aston Villa for Ashley Young or Wigan for N’Zogbia. Barca may be happy to make a £5-10m profit on their investment, and for a player who has pace, trickery and 31 international caps, the risks to signing him are very low.
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