Where does Rodgers need to strengthen?
AFTER an underwhelming start to the season which has seen Liverpool not only lie astray of the Premier League leaders market, but also suffer a Champions League exit, it’s quite clear lessons need to be learned from the summer’s transfer moves.
The difficulty in January is that both funds, and quality of players available, will be of a different level. Liverpool will therefore have to be astute in the market, and pack certainty when going in for a player.
A mobile striker
A striker is of course the most obvious requirement. Mario Balotelli, as Brendan Rodgers admitted, was a gamble. The next move in the market for a hitman has to be calculated. Ideally it will be someone mobile, with a decent scoring rate, and masses of potential. Pablo Dyabla is someone Liverpool have tracked for some time, and weighed up making a move for. In the end they decided it against it, but the similarities between the Argentinean and Luis Suarez might be too strong to ignore.
There is too, Dyabla’s own progression. Gone have the indifferent displays with Palermo, and instead a star is emerging. His intelligent running, usage of the ball, and ability to find the net on a more consistent basis make Dyabla seem a sure thing. There is a risk of course, given the adaptation period likely required, but has all the shape of a move that needs to be a made with the future firmly on their minds.
If adaptation is a problem with Dyabla, then it certainly isn’t with two other possible strike targets. Wilfried Bony has been a sensation ever since arriving at Swansea, and now he’s showing all the consistent signs of a top Premier League striker. Bony’s excellent from a physical standpoint, and packs the athleticism Liverpool need to revitalise their often lethargic attack. The striker is someone who can stretch and irritate opponents, both with his power and pace. This is not to mention his ability of finding the net, which now stands at 7 goals in 9 games in the league. The other possible signing would be the exciting Saido Berahino of West Brom. One can only imagine the chaos Liverpool could impose upon opponents with a fit and firing trio of Berahino, Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge.
The 21-year-old has been in sensational form this season while with a lowly Baggies outfit, and a move up a level is clearly in the sights of the ambitious youngster who has turned out for England Under-21. Berahino clearly has natural striking instincts in the penalty area, and ability to peel off defenders and create himself space and time to finish. Like Bony, he’s someone that could bring strong physical attributes to the Liverpool attack, in terms of ability to use pace against a flat footed defence. Berahino has shown the ability to dig in and work too, while his young age and masses of potential give Liverpool even more to savour for the future.
A goalkeeper with ability to use his feet
Names such as Asmir Begovic and Petr Cech have been touted around in terms of succeeding Simon Mignolet, or at least offering competition, and while both are an improvement they perhaps don’t solve a systematic issue Liverpool have been presented with. The former Sunderland goalkeeper has shown to be inept when it comes to using the ball at his feet, and offering security when it comes to playing out of the backline.
These are key aspects of Rodgers’ style, and need to be adhered to immediately. Mattia Perin is a more forward thinking move from the club, and his agility is in line with this. The young Italian is a livewire presence between the sticks with his jumping, and reflex, ability. The 22-year-old is still young for a goalkeeper but there is much to work with. Perin has produced some astonishing individual displays for his team and would offer a different sort of presence between the sticks.
Where will other teams look?
Arsenal – Guessing Arsene Wenger’s moves in the transfer market is a near impossible task, but it is clear where the Gunners need to improve. Arsenal have been severely lacking a commanding presence in defence and if they were to snap up a high level defender it would be a significant improvement to their weak backline. It’s been an issue at Arsenal for some time and it continues to puzzle why it has yet to be addressed. Issues clearly present themselves in midfield for Wenger too, with several below par performances and persistent injuries. Someone such as Lars Bender or Christoph Kramer would be a perfect solution to the problems, offering dependability and dynamism at the same time.
Manchester United – The approach at Old Trafford has resembled something like a scattergun since Louis Van Gaal’s arrival at the club, and though he denies this will continue in January, an intelligent deal might well present itself. United clearly still lack presence in the midfield, and with several players set to leave the club, it is somewhere they need to address. Then there is central defence too, but with such few top level players on the market for a club out of Europe, it will be difficult to bring in reinforcements. Diego Godin and Mats Hummels remain serious targets but will surely not be let go by their clubs, and Van Gaal might well have to do with patching up his team for a while longer.
Pics: Liverpool FC