Liverpool FC: 6 Reds Who Need to Leave Anfield This Summer
Liverpool’s league results since the turn of the year have played a large part in their current disappointing position of eighth in the English Premier League table.
Yet there have been glimpses of quality—of what they are truly capable of—sandwiched in between forgettable and frustrating draws and losses.
And it is precisely because the Reds have promised so much but delivered so little that their American owners have already sounded their first big backroom change: the departure of ex-director of football Damien Comolli.
For now, Kenny Dalglish remains at the helm at Anfield, but Comolli paid the price for a schizophrenic season largely due to their dubious transfer dealings.
And for Dalglish to have a continued chance at the long-term role at Liverpool, he must chop and change the squad further this summer.
Here is a list of six Liverpool players who need to leave Anfield this summer—and, as usual, feel free to have your say in the comments below.
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Let’s start with an easy one.
Young full-back Jon Flanagan has enjoyed a rapid rise to first-team status and provided excellent cover on the right in the absence of both Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly toward the tail end of the 2010-2011 season.
But that was almost a year ago.
This year, he has been thrust into the limelight in a season of expectation, and the reputation he cemented a year ago has caught up with him.
It’s not his fault, per se—it’s just that when you make a mistake at the highest level, it doesn’t help that your team is also extremely underwhelming.
So how do you solve a problem like Flanagan?
The simple solution is to send him out on loan, ideally to a Premier League team that doesn’t host an expectant crowd of almost 45,000 week in, week out.
Let Johnson and Kelly man the flank for Liverpool for a season—and then reap the rewards of sustained first-team experience afterward.
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On a quite opposite spectrum of the scale, Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher is in the twilight years of his career.
While his determination and commitment to the Liverpool cause are still unrivaled, his status as first-team veteran has earned him appearances ahead of promising youngster Sebastian Coates—and sometimes with disastrous results.
Simply put, Carragher’s years are catching up to him.
He’s being exposed for his pace, height and aerial ability, and it is no surprise that Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger have cemented their places as first-choice central defenders for Kenny Dalglish.
But Carragher remains an elephant in the room, and a potential obstacle in the way of other prospects.
For the good of the team, and to preserve his own legendary status, Jamie Carragher must leave the playing ranks this summer and move to the backroom team.
He’d be able to continue his invaluable input then.
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There was a time when many pro-Dalglish supporters claimed that Damien Comolli was in charge of the transfer policy at Anfield and that Dalglish merely chose from a short list that Comolli provided him.
But there was also a time when Kenny Dalglish, having been so delighted at securing the signing of former Blackpool star Charlie Adam, personally drove Adam into the Melwood training ground in his own car.
After all, Adam was the poster boy of Blackpool’s first-phenomenal-then-disappointing season, and his set-piece deliveries earned him ringing endorsements from around the Premier League. He even started the season well, and—believe it or not—was touted around as one of the better signings in the summer.
Then, when Lucas’ anterior cruciate ligament gave way, so did Adam’s form.
But, in hindsight, perhaps Adam was never really good enough.
Slow, reckless in the tackle, lacking in positional sense and too prone to playing a Hollywood pass, Adam is the embodiment of everything Liverpool don’t aspire to.
Charlie Adam is one of the few players Liverpool would be able to recoup a fee anywhere near his initial signing fee—and that is only one of the reasons he should be on his way.
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And then comes Maxi Rodriguez, whose reasons for a Liverpool exit are completely different to Adam’s.
Because while the vast majority of the Liverpool squad have not delivered this season, Maxi has been one so desperately short of even a first-team chance that Liverpool fans have been clamoring for his inclusion.
In a season where statistics and numbers have run the rule over Liverpool’s transfer policy and squad selection, Kenny Dalglish has all but ignored that most important statistic.
Maxi has six goals this season in only 18 appearances in all competitions (14 of them starts).
He has shown that he has the positional sense of a predatory striker, and that’s what Liverpool has lacked so sorely this season.
But Kenny Dalglish has curiously insisted on Maxi’s non-inclusion, and his absence from the team when Liverpool have most needed goals will surely have not sat well with Maxi himself.
There comes a time when a criminally underused player should depart for a team that is prepared to utilize his strengths.
Perhaps now is that time.
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Last summer, Liverpool went after Ashley Young. Manchester United ended up signing him for £16 million. So they signed Stewart Downing instead. For £20 million.
When Downing arrived, he was heralded as the missing piece to Liverpool’s jigsaw, and the player who would set Andy Carroll off on his way to becoming Liverpool’s new striking legend.
It’s safe to say that it hasn’t worked out.
And not only has it not worked out, Downing hasn’t even registered a single assist or goal in the league. After 33 appearances.
The last time a Liverpool winger was so unprolific, El-Hadji Diouf didn’t score a goal in 25 appearances in the 2003-2004 season. But even he notched two assists.
And Downing is becoming an obstacle to Liverpool’s progression toward a prolific future.
The only reason to keep him is that Downing improved only in his second season with Aston Villa.
But given his disastrous performances for Liverpool this season, the only way he must head is out.
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Perhaps Dirk Kuyt’s powers are on the wane. Perhaps he isn’t the tireless runner he used to be. Perhaps the team is in transition and looking toward younger talent.
No matter the reason, Dirk Kuyt has been in and out of the first team this season.
He’s found it frustrating, most probably because he still feels as if he has a lot to offer his team.
He wouldn’t be wrong—his key contributions this season have included a last-gasp winner in an FA Cup tie with Manchester United and a key goal in the Carling Cup final.
But, just like Maxi, when Kuyt’s replacements are not up to any productive good in his stead, that decision will be even more unpopular with both the players themselves and the fans.
Kuyt is reportedly eyeing a move away from Liverpool this summer (and linked to a number of clubs around Europe by the Daily Mirror).
He’d leave with the best wishes of every Kopite.
If you liked this article, you might also be interested in 10 Things Liverpool Have to Change Next Season and Why Liverpool Should Play a 4-2-3-1 Next Season. For more Liverpool match reactions and opinions, check out and subscribe to my blog, The Red Armchair, where I also host live match-day chats during select Liverpool games.