Will they buy, or won't they? That's the big question that Liverpool fans are asked about their club's intentions for this month's transfer window. Many people say that Liverpool will be buyers; others say they won't.
In my opinion, it's clear that the club is looking to bring some players in—and rightfully so. Liverpool need to strengthen, and they need to do it now.
In this article I will set out five reasons why Damien Comolli and Kenny Dalglish must not just dip into the transfer market, they must make a splash in it this month.
I hope you enjoy.
Liverpool currently sit in sixth place in the Premier League. And while many excuses can and have been made, the fact is that they are where they are because they haven't performed well enough this season.
The current group of players have not performed at the level which is expected of them. As things stand, Liverpool will not qualify for next season's Champions League. Failure to qualify for the Champions League will be a disaster for the club, who would be facing their third consecutive season without participating in Europe's top competition.
For Liverpool to qualify for next season's Champions League, they are going to have to improve—and not just slightly. They are going to have to improve greatly.
It would be daft to think that Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal will under-perform in the second half of the season in the same manner as they have in the first half. As those clubs improve, Liverpool will need to match them stride-for-stride and more.
Liverpool sit only three points behind Chelsea, who currently occupy fourth place. But Chelsea are considered to be in somewhat of a mini-crisis by fans who are demanding more, which tells you quite a bit about the expectations of both clubs and their fans, considering Liverpool fans would be happy with a fourth place finish this season.
The gap between Liverpool and the top clubs may not be big right now, but it is there.
As I said, the gap is there. And if Liverpool don't buy, the gap's going to get bigger because the competition will be active.
Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United all seem likely buyers in the January transfer window, and I'd expect both Spurs and Manchester City to strengthen as well.
If Liverpool allow their rivals to strengthen their squad and fail to add to their own, then that gap isn't going to close, but it will simply widen.
Chelsea spent in excess of £70million last January. Would it be a surprise to see them spend a similar amount this year? With Villas-Boas seeming to have more control over transfers than Carlo Ancelotti did, I imagine he will be the one making the decisions. And he will acquire players to fit his system, which means they won't backfire like Torres and Luiz have.
Arsenal are flush with cash, having spent little of the money they received for Cesc and Nasri last summer. With Robin Van Persie having previously stated that he will wait until the end of the season to renew his contract, they will want to make a statement to him, their fans and their rivals that they wish to contend for major honours.
Manchester United are in need of a couple of players as well. Regardless of the club's financial issues and how big or small their current debt may be, they always find money to strengthen their squad when Alex Ferguson feels it needs to be strengthened.
Liverpool cannot allow the other teams competing for the Champions League spots to strengthen while they sit on their hands and watch on. They also need to ensure that they do not leave everything until the last minute as they did last January.
The return of Steven Gerrard has been obviously given Liverpool a massive boost. And there are fans who are of the opinion that Gerrard alone can make the difference in this squad and launch them into the top four.
If Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli are of the same opinion, then they are making a big mistake
Gerrard is unquestionably a great player. One of Liverpool's greatest-ever players. But he is unfortunately injury prone. He missed the vast majority of 2011 through injuries, and it's too much to expect that he will remain injury free until the end of the season if he is asked to play every game.
His career as a whole has been hampered by injuries, mainly of the muscular nature. Groin and hamstring problems have dogged Gerrard since his early days. With his body having undergone so much surgery, he simply isn't going to be able to carry the team week-in and week-out without help from anyone other than Suarez.
Gerrard is not the only key player at Liverpool whose career has been plagued by injuries. Craig Bellamy and Daniel Agger have also missed substantial amounts of games throughout their careers. While Agger has managed to stay injury free since his return from the rib injury he suffered at Spurs, it can't be expected that he will play every game until the end of the season. Bellamy simply isn't capable of playing every game.
Take Gerrard, Bellamy and Agger out of the Liverpool team, and aside from Reina, Enrique and Suarez, you are looking at an exceptionally ordinary group of players. That's not even taking into account the fact that Lucas Leiva is ruled out until the end of the season.
Liverpool need to add quality to the ranks this month because they simply cannot rely on the current best 11 to stay fit for the remainder of the season.
And just imagine if Suarez were to pick up an injury. Would you back Andy Carroll or Dirk Kuyt to carry to load and fire Liverpool into the top four? I certainly wouldn't.
UEFA's Financial Fair Play Regulations, also known as the "Anti-Manchester City Rules" have been introduced for this current season. These specify that teams can only spend the money they generate themselves and cannot rely on their owner's personal wealth as City, Chelsea and, to a lesser extent, Spurs have done over the last few years.
While there are ways and means around them—see Manchester City's stadium sponsorship deal as an example—it is widely accepted that this transfer window and the one in the summer will be the last time that teams can really spend big money in the transfer market.
The reason why this is important for Liverpool is because, while they will be able to spend big money in the summer, they will not be able to attract top-tier talent without the promise of Champions League football next season. The likes of Christian Eriksen, Lucas Moura, et al. will not make a summer move to a club that will not be competing in the Champions League.
Liverpool must sign players now to secure a Champions League position, so that in the summer they will be able to sign more top-class players.
There is, of course, the argument that without Champions League football this season, the club won't be able to sign top players this month. My counter argument is Luis Suarez. Suarez left Ajax to join a Liverpool team who did not look at all likely to quality for the Champions League, while knowing that it was almost certain that Ajax would qualify.
Surely, he is not the only player who would be willing to do so.
It's not like Liverpool need to target players at clubs who remain in this season's Champions League either. Players like Lukas Podolski, Gaston Ramirez and Leroy Fer would make Liverpool a much better team, certainly one capable of qualifying for the Champions League; none of them are at teams involved in this season's tournament. There is no reason to think that Liverpool could not attract these players, especially with the promise of Champions League football next season should they sign now and help the club reach the top four.
The argument that teams have to overpay for talent in January is true when it comes to players who are based in England, but you can get quality talent in Europe at good prices in January. Again, I point to Luis Suarez.
Besides, even if Liverpool do have to overpay, and it costs them £10million more to sign two or three players now than it would in the summer, that money will be brought back to the club by participating in the Champions League. Speculate to accumulate.
Liverpool have three big, obvious holes in their current 11 which need to be addressed sooner rather than later. There is simply no question about that.
They must add a striker to partner Luis Suarez. Andy Carroll is simply not a good partner for Suarez, and the two do not mesh on the field at all. They are incompatible, and it is my opinion that Kenny Dalglish, who has dropped Carroll on a number of occasions and only played him along with Suarez a handful of times, knows this.
They should be looking to add a striker within the next week or two, so that the loss of Suarez is not felt too badly while he serves the remaining seven games of his ban. It is important that this striker is a goalscorer, someone to whom scoring goals is second nature.
There is an enormous need for a defensive midfielder. This has been the case since Javier Mascherano left. Whilst Lucas Leiva did an admirable job over the last 18 months, he is not a player of the highest caliber, which is what Liverpool need in that role. A truly top-class defensive midfield can take over a game and dominate it; Lucas cannot do that, and his replacement, Jay Spearing, can't even dream of it.
Manchester City brushed aside Liverpool's midfield at times, and the rampaging Yaya Toure highlighted Liverpool's need for a top-class defensive midfielder.
A creative attacking wide player is also a huge need. Against City, Liverpool had long spells of possession, but the lack of quality and creativity, even after Gerrard and Bellamy came on, was quite astounding. Liverpool too often look clueless in attack, and there seems to be an attitude of "give it to Suarez and hope that he can do something."
Without Suarez last night, Liverpool were hopeless going forward.
Even with Suarez, the attack has been poor this season. It is an embarrassing fact that of the bottom three in the Premier League, only Wigan have scored less goals than Liverpool. Suarez has come under criticism for his lack of clinical finishing, but one must remember that he is expected to carry both the creative and clinical load for Liverpool.
Never have I seen a striker having to create so many chances for both himself and his teammates.
He needs help, and he needs it quick.
I do want to add here that I am of the opinion that Liverpool should not sign any players for the first team from England either in January or next summer. The signings made from England thus far, with the exception of Enrique, who's not English, and Bellamy, who was free, can be viewed as nothing more than massive mistakes and enormous wastes of money.
Again, I want to add that there are top-class players out there who are willing to join Liverpool, and again, I'll point to Luis Suarez. The club must move to bring in some of them now, or they will face another summer of Stewart Downing and Charlie Adam-type signings, which will neither improve the team nor impress the fans.
Signing young players from England is a good idea and one I back. Here's four that I think they should sign.
But in terms of first-team players, France, Holland, Germany or Italy are the best places for Liverpool to be looking. If you haven't already, read my piece on potential signings from the Bundesliga, although you can ignore the slide of Marco Reus, who has agreed to join Borussia Dortmund. That deal in itself highlights why Liverpool should be looking in that direction. He's going to cost somewhere in the region of £14.5million, £1.5million less than Jordan Henderson.
Thanks for reading. Please feel free to comment below.
If you've enjoyed this article, you might like to read a follow on piece - http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1012553-liverpool-fc-5-great-january-transfer-and-5-more-that-would-lift-the-mood
I'd like to thank you again for taking the time to read this article; feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below. And if you've got a minute to spare, don't forget to vote for who YOU believe is the greatest Liverpool goalkeeper of all time. I've decided to make the greatest-ever articles a fortnightly feature, rather than a weekly one, so you've still got a couple days left to vote.