New Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is about to reveal his opening hand in the transfer market. Speculation abounds, but the weight of it suggests he will pick up Clint Dempsey and Fabio Borini and throw away Andy Carroll.
U.S. international Dempsey is 29 and coming off the best season of his career with Fulham—in which he scored 17 Premier League goals and offered up six assists. And with one year left on his current deal, Fulham must choose whether to cash in or risk losing their best player on a free transfer next summer.
Liverpool are ready to move.
According to London's Evening Standard, Rodgers wants Dempsey at Anfield, and the club are preparing an offer of £7.5 million. There's even talk (via themirror.co.uk) that the deal will go through in time for Dempsey to join Liverpool on their upcoming tour of the U.S.
How about that for convenience?
There's no question Liverpool now represents Dempsey's most viable destination. The U.S. international said in May he wanted to play in the Champions League, but it's hard to see more than a peripheral role for him at Chelsea or Manchester City.
Dempsey could leave England of course, but with that comes the risk of needing time to adapt to a new league. At this stage of his career—he surely can't afford to give away a season relearning his craft. For that reason staying in the Premier League is the only sensible choice to make.
Liverpool might not offer Dempsey Champions League football, but they do represent an opportunity to take his career to the next level. Anfield is one of the great sporting theaters, and Liverpool one of the sport's most romantic and best-loved institutions.
Should Liverpool want him, Dempsey will be sold a vision of a great club ready to return to former glories, and he'll be given the chance to spearhead Rodgers' revolution.
So, what of Dempsey's suitability to thrive under Rodgers at Liverpool? Judging by his tactics at Swansea last season, Rodgers favors using a central striker feeding off two advanced wide players. This is where Dempsey would likely fit in—possibly mirroring the role given to Luis Suarez on the opposite flank.
The man ahead of them may well be Borini. Rodgers was a coach at Chelsea when the teenage Borini played in their youth and reserve teams. He later took the striker on loan at Swansea, so he knows his game well. The Mirror say Borini is "seriously considering" a move from Roma to Anfield.
This from Mina Rzouki's revealing profile of the young striker, as per the Mirror:
Tactically flexible, the ex-Chelsea player can play any position in attack, on the left, through the middle or on the right. He can play as the centre forward or as a second striker as he can exploit his pace and willingness to uncover space when deployed in a more withdrawn role. Additionally, his sacrificial nature sees him eager to provide for the side when out of possession whilst statistically, he produced more tackles than any other attacking player for Roma last season.
It's easy to see why Rodgers would see him as an attractive option. Like Dempsey, he is technically sound, works like a dog and can play in a variety of positions. That's the model for any player to fit into a passing team—where movement in possession and intense pressing off it is key to success.
But where does all of this leave Liverpool's £35 million man, Andy Carroll?
The obvious line is that his one-dimensional threat will be deemed surplus to requirements under Rodgers. According to the Daily Mail, West Ham and his former club Newcastle are keen on a possible loan deal, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him exit stage left.
It would represent a bold and potentially costly move for Liverpool to let Carroll leave, but if Rodgers is to stay true to his footballing principles, it would also serve as a notable statement of intent. There's a long-term vision at play here—one Rodgers believes can ultimately return Liverpool to glories of old.
Said Rodgers in a press conference on Wednesday (as per the Telegraph):
I certainly think with a club of our status and value to the football world, that we can go again. It’s going to take time and whether it will be in my time, I’m not so sure. But I’m going to fight for my life to try to get this model of play that hopefully can change the history of the club.
That fight will begin in the transfer market. And it may well begin with signing of an exciting young Italian and potentially the best American player we've seen.