Andy Carroll’s end of season revival should have put speculation regarding his Anfield future at rest.
The irony of transfer rumours linking him with a move away from Liverpool is therefore somewhat dark.
After 18 months of patience it finally seemed that Andy Carroll was ready to pay back the club’s £35 million investment, yet his services could now be offered to one of the biggest clubs in world football for free.
The Telegraph, the Sun, and BBC Sport all report that Brendan Rodgers is giving serious thought into loaning out the club’s most expensive signing in history, with AC Milan interested in acquiring the 23-year-old’s services.
"There are many things to going on loan. Is it going to be beneficial for the club, that's the most important thing?
Sometimes a player going out on loan—in general, not just Andy—can benefit the club in the long term,” Rodgers said.
"It gets them game experience and they come back a better player, a more confident one. Certainly more so than if they've been sitting on the bench for the majority of the season.
I'm not going to sit here and say I will never let anyone go on loan, then come in here in two weeks and a player's gone, and you're saying 'you said you wouldn't let them go'," the Northern Irishman added.
Although Rodgers has implied he is open to sending a variety of the club’s fledgling talent out on loan, the reality is that Andy Carroll is particularly likely to leave because he does not fit in with the former Swansea manager’s style of play.
Rodgers is a student of the game. He knows football. He knows it inside out. A simple assessment of the Dutch or Spanish game will teach you that possession is paramount to winning football matches; if the opponents do not have the ball, they cannot score. Transforming that two dimensional knowledge into three dimensional success is not as simple.
Tika taka and totaal- voetbal became the modus operendi for Swansea last season, and it is likely that a similar approach will be adopted at Anfield.
Instead of adopting a precise 4-4-2, 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 style of play, Rodgers has adopted a concept of different zones whilst on the playing field.
Andy Carroll will be expected to occupy the final third of the pitch and serve as a target man, a job that has previously been occupied by Danny Graham and Fabio Borini at Swansea. Maintain possession and controlling the pace of the attack is integral to this role, but this does not play to all of Andy Carroll’s strengths.
Andy Carroll is an old fashioned No. 9, the kind that loves to get on the end of long balls and dominate defenders in the air. His goal against Sweden at Euro 2012 encapsulates all of the strengths of Carroll’s talent.
The same game also exposed his weakness. He was poor at holding onto the ball and his average off ball runs gave England’s midfield little to aim for on what should be a very big target.
Carroll is weak whilst in possession. Although his fighting spirit and physical presence could easily be an asset to Liverpool’s game, there is no space for a brawler in Rodgers’ starting 11.
Fabio Borini on the other hand is better suited to Rodgers’ preferred style of play, as is shown by the superlative cameo role he played in Swansea’s promotion winning season.
The Italian signed on loan from Chelsea in March 2011 until the end of Swansea’s campaign in the Championship. Aged 19 on his arrival, Borini scored 6 goals in 9 appearances for the Swans.
It is therefore unsurprising that the press is linking the Roma striker with a move to Anfield. The Daily Mail report Roma to have acknowledged Liverpool’s interest in the striker, who could cost £10 million.
If the transfer does go ahead, Liverpool will have three strikers with legitimate claims to be a regular starter in their squad. It will be a challenge that Carroll will have to rise too if he stays.