Liverpool Transfer Rumours: 5 Potential Reds Loan Targets
Heading into the 2011/12 season, Liverpool were hoping to be a top four, returning to the place where they rightfully belong. However, they have been a shadow of the team they were expecting to be, having toiled their way to a sixth-place berth at the halfway point of the season.
Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli need to make improvements in the January transfer window.
Jan Vertonghen, Ajax
Few players have been linked more with Liverpool in the past few seasons than Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen, who has been mentioned every time there has been talk of Liverpool potentially signing a new defensive player.
The 24-year-old Belgian has become one of Europe's better defenders in recent seasons. His versatility allows him to play in a variety of different defensive positions, whether it be at left-back, centre-back or defensive midfielder. By no means is Liverpool's biggest need in defense, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to improve and add more depth.
Vertonghen is unlikely to want to leave Ajax on a permanent deal in January, but there's a good chance he leaves on loan and it could well be to Liverpool.
Esteban Granero, Real Madrid
The rumours connecting Real Madrid's versatile midfielder Esteban Granero to Liverpool have been quiet, but they have been rumbling nonetheless. The 24-year-old Spaniard has played sparingly under Jose Mourinho at Real, leading to reports that he might be craving a move elsewhere in search of first-team football.
He would certainly get that at Anfield.
Granero joined Real Madrid as an eight-year-old, but spent time with Getafe before being brought back for about £3 million in 2009. In his first season, the then 22-year-old featured heavily in the Madrid lineup, but he has only seen seven appearances this season and is unlikely to still be at the Bernabeu come February.
His versatility as both a defensive and attacking midfielder and availability on a loan deal make him an attractive option for the Reds.
Adam Johnson, Manchester City
City winger Adam Johnson has been linked with Liverpool since his Middlesborough days, and the chatter linking him to the Reds has never quite seemed to die down.
The Independent are the most recent to mention Johnson and Liverpool in the same breath, correctly suggesting that with the heavy competition of places at City, Mancini might allow his English winger to leave the Etihad Stadium.
Johnson has made 18 appearances this season scoring six goals, but much of that time has been among the last minutes of the game, with the result decided and the points already secured.
Johnson would probably embrace a move to Anfield, as it would see him gain regular minutes on the Liverpool wing. There is a good chance City let him leave on loan in January.
Salomon Kalou, Chelsea
Another top-level player struggling for playing time, Salomon Kalou was heavily linked with Liverpool in the summer, but a move never materialize. Now, talk about a potential Kalou-to-Liverpool transfer is picking up again, with Liverpool expected to try to spoil a proposed Arsenal move to sign the Ivorian.
He is desperate for a move away from Stamford Bridge, and it is likely the Blues will be happy to oblige.
The 26-year-old is by no means the goalscorer that Liverpool need, but his versatility (he can play on the wing or behind the striker) would be a welcome addition at Anfield. A loan move would be relatively easy to wrap up, and it would give Liverpool flexibility in the summer on a decision over Kalou based on his performance.
Luuk De Jong, FC Twente
Inter Milan's Luc Castaignos is the most recent name to be linked with Liverpool, but there have been doubts over whether or not he would be able to solve the Reds' obvious goal-scoring crisis. Those doubts are pretty well non-existent in any conversation concerning fellow Dutch striker Luuk De Jong.
The 21-year-old De Jong is in the process of establishing himself as one of Europe's better young strikers with 13 goals through 19 games with Feyenoord. While he might be inclined to want to stay in Holland to try to win a spot on his country's Euro 2012 squad, his unique combination of speed, size and natural technical ability would fit the Liverpool system perfectly, and Anfield could very well be an environment where De Jong would thrive.
If Liverpool sign a young striker in January, it will be De Jong. It would take a lot to get him, but he would be well worth the commitment.
Follow Jake Ware on Twitter at @JacobWare95