With the summer transfer window still in its infancy, Brendan Rodgers has already wrapped up three new signings. They may not be the showstoppers that Liverpool fans constantly hope for, but most sensible Reds fans will know that these transfers are the types of signings Liverpool currently need.
More than half of last season’s summer signings were under the age of 22 and from abroad – Lazar Markovic arrived from Portuguese side Benfica, Emre Can from Germany’s Bundesliga, Alberto Moreno from Europa League winners Sevilla and Divock Origi signed from Lille but remained on loan at the French side for the season. While Can impressed with his performances and versatility, Markovic and Moreno took longer to settle in. The early season instability in defence did not do Moreno’s any favours, and it also saw Can deployed as a centre-back when Rodgers finally settled on a back three.
The partial success of these young foreign signings showed to Rodgers that he needs players with Premier League experience or enough exposure to the English game, such that the settling in period would not be as demanding. However, last season’s other half of signings contradicts this as well, with Southampton trio Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren, along with ex-Manchester City forward Mario Balotelli, proving that knowing English football does not necessarily translate to instant success. The case could be put out that Lambert did as well as he could, considering he was bought as a back-up striker, while Balotelli was ultimately a gamble that failed. However, Lovren and Lallana would have been expected to start their Anfield careers much better than they had, as both only really settled in towards the end of the season, several months too late.
In: Milner, Bogdan & Ings
Out: Gerrard, Johnson, Jones
milner: a needed upgrade on allen
Yet, most Reds will understand that the three recent signings are value for money and should do well. At 29, James Milner is considered at his peak, and has been in the Premier League for well over a decade. Milner has played for four clubs, showing his ability at adapting at different levels of the league, from relegated Leeds United to mid table Newcastle United and Aston Villa, and then to winning the league twice with Manchester City. Milner will definitely add more to Liverpool’s midfield than Joe Allen currently does, with his drive and determination lifting some of the midfield burden off Jordan Henderson’s shoulders. His renowned versatility will also be of great use for Rodgers, especially with Steven Gerrard leaving the club. Milner, at his peak and as a free transfer, is one signing that will very likely succeed.
The other purely free signing is Bolton goalkeeper Adam Bogdan. Some Liverpool fans might be underwhelmed by this signing, hoping that the club might be able to pull a transfer miracle by bringing in Chelsea’s second choice Petr Cech or Real Madrid legend Iker Casillas to challenge current number one Simon Mignolet. But the reality is, having let go of Pepe Reina last summer, it was almost impossible for Liverpool to sign another goalkeeper on high wages. What’s more, Mignolet’s magnificent recovery in form since the turn of the year gives the club much hope for the future, and why he will still be first choice next season. The Reds only needed someone to replace the outgoing Brad Jones, and in all honesty, Bogdan is an upgrade to Jones.
a refresher was needed at the no.2 spot
The Bulgarian goalkeeper has the ability to push Mignolet for a first-team spot, which will keep the Belgian international on his toes. Having been in the English game since 2007, Bogdan has played in the Premier League for two years, before Bolton’s relegation in 2012. At 27, Bogdan will be satisfied to be back-up at Liverpool yet still motivated enough to challenge Mignolet. That could not be said for Jones, who seemed to be easily contented as a back-up but when called upon, could not produce high enough levels of performance to ever truly threaten Mignolet’s first-team spot.
ings scored one more than lukaku and van persie last season
The final ‘free’ transfer signing made so far is Burnley’s Danny Ings, as he will still cost around £7 million. Like in the case of Bogdan, some fans may feel disgruntled that Rodgers has identified Ings to help solve last season’s goalscoring problems. This dissatisfaction may grow should the Reds not bring in another forward, as Ings should only be viewed as a third choice, maybe second choice at best. Still, Ings did pretty well in his top-flight campaign with relegated Burnley, bagging almost thrice as many goals as Balotelli, Lambert and Fabio Borini combined. His tenacity and willingness to press, along with decent turn of pace, are much needed traits in Rodgers’ desired frontmen. Ings is still young enough to improve his game, yet experienced enough to be able to significantly contribute to this side in the immediate term. In reality, he will provide solid cover upfront, and more sensible fans will understand Ings will be a much better option than Lambert and Borini.
In The Rumour Mill
With Origi finally arriving to Anfield, Rodgers will let Lambert and Borini go, possibly Balotelli as well. Reds fans will hope another striker arrives, one that can lead the line in the likely absence of Daniel Sturridge. Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke is the one most linked thus far, with Manchester United loan flop Radamel Falcao leaning towards being Jose Mourinho’s third choice striker at Chelsea. Interestingly, Juventus’ Carlos Tevez is being linked as well, though that is highly unlikely.
A first-choice right back is needed at the club as well, with the returning Andre Wisdom and injured Jon Flanagan the only ones able to fill that position at the moment. Southampton’s – yes, them again – Nathaniel Clyne is a realistic target, but after Dani Alves committed his future to Barcelona, United looks likely to usher Clyne towards Old Trafford.
kovacic: the long term replacement for gerrard?
One transfer likely to go through within the next week is Internazionale’s Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic. Rodgers will look to Kovacic to fill the goal creating void from midfield left by Gerrard’s departure, and at the price being touted in the media, the deal seems to be a pretty good one for the Reds. Plus, Liverpool’s recent 100% success record of signings from Inter looks to bode well too, with their only signing Philippe Coutinho now a key player in Rodgers’ side.
Realistically, the Reds are still two players short to challenge for the top four next year, with a right back and forward still needed. These are the positions where the Reds have to spend the real money now.