Liverpool FC: 5 Transfer Targets in 5 Days, World-Class Strikers
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I'm going to break the rules for this one. Gaston Ramirez is the favorite to get the break down today based on your votes. I'm not going to be doing that.
By now, we've all at least seen or read the highlights from the match on Sunday. Once the Reds got in a rhythm, Brendan Rodgers' rhythm, they started to dominate. Two careless mistakes were the only reason Manchester City got on the score sheet.
Other than those two errors, I think most would agree that Liverpool outclassed City for much of the affair. The even possession and scoreline don't do justice to the Reds' performance. Rodgers has officially put the entire league, the world, on notice.
Something magical happened once the team got settled. Something we've not seen at Anfield in years. Last season's team would've either withered away at the first sign of adversity or become complacent if they scored first.
The side we witnessed today was a total transformation from that of Kenny Dalglish's squad. Stricken with adversity within minutes from the opening whistle as Lucas Leiva went down, Liverpool responded with strength and resolve.
The Reds created 16 shots compared to City's 10 on the day. What's more is almost all of the shots had something about them. They were well-created and most had a scoring chance. The buildup play was a master class at times, but the finishing left something to be desired.
Here's the point:
If that is the type of side Rodgers plans to play week-in and week-out, then there is no reason whatsoever that Liverpool cannot and will not finish in the top 4. A bold statement, I know.
Liverpool left the league's reigning champions out of sorts, and the reason they left two points on the field were because of unusual errors that are highly unlikely to be regular occurrences.
In order to achieve the lofty goal set above, Liverpool need one and only one addition beyond improving their depth. That is to break the bank on a world-class striker. They need a cut-throat assassin with unforgiving finishing quality, the likes of which we've not seen since Fernando Torres was in form.
A top goal-scorer playing center forward for Liverpool on Sunday would've had a field day, possibly a career day, against one of the better Premier League defenses. The chances were as plentiful as the finishing was woeful.
Three shots on goal in 16 attempts won't get the Reds to Champions League play, even if the approach play is brilliant.
There is clearly something to Rodgers' system, and today he looked very much the masterful tactician that he was touted to be when John Henry brought him in. The final piece to the puzzle is bringing in a world-class front man that will put more than three in 16 balls on target.
Fans would be surprised at the various options on the market right now. Rodgers has proven to be a shrewd businessman so far, and if Sir Alex Ferguson can bring in Robin Van Persie for less than £1 million per goal, then there's no reason Rodgers can't find similar value elsewhere.
Of course, what everyone is thinking right about now is that Rodgers has nearly emptied the kitty already, and there just simply isn't enough to spend.
At this particular moment, there probably isn't enough in the transfer budget to splurge on a striker costing tens of millions, but a few quick sales and Rodgers could raise a little more than £20 million in a very short time.
Even £5 million for Adam can go a long way as the deadline nears. Another couple of million for Jay Spearing, if his deal to Bolton is to materialize, and you can see Rodgers is well into £20 million.
Furthermore, there's nothing stopping Fenway Sports Group from loosening the purse strings if Rodgers can persuade them to do so. Today, he persuaded me that if he is given this final piece of the puzzle, he can and will be in a position to stage a coup for one of the top spots on the table by May.
Let's examine the options. Some are more pie-in-the-sky than others, but the EPL transfer window is never lacking in drama, and Liverpool are no strangers to playing center stage.
Fernando Llorente: El Rey Leon
Llorente is the truth, but finding your rhythm in the EPL can be... tricky.
Fernando Llorente is a thoroughbred scoring machine. He's notched double-digit goals in each of the last five seasons with Athletic Bilbao, having made 40 appearances or more in each.
His most recent campaign saw him bulge the net 29 times in all competitions, including 17 in La Liga.
He is very much an option at this stage in the game. The 27-year-old is itching for a move away from Bilbao and perhaps to the Premier League. The time is right for an EPL side to swoop in.
Enter Liverpool. If Rodgers can muster the funds and put together a bid comparable to or better than that of Juventus' €21 million offer, as reported by the Daily Star, then it is a real possibility.
According to the Daily Star, Llorente has pleaded with his club to accept the offer. If another big name club, such as Liverpool, enter the fray, there's no reason to think he won't want to go there as well.
The sweet spot to compete with Juve's bid would be between £15-20 million. If there's any fire behind Newcastle's smoke of preparing a new bid for Carroll, then that sale alone would net Rodgers enough funds.
There is one snag, however, and that is that Bilbao have a hefty €36 million release clause. This may seem like a major road block, but with Llorente refusing to play, and only one year remaining on his contract, the pressure to sell is definitely on Bilbao.
Llorente would bring clinical finishing, agility, speed and a real sense for goal to Anfield for what could essentially amount to a trade for Carroll.
What makes this even more attractive is that Llorente is just as recognizable for his heading prowess in the penalty area as any of his other traits, so Liverpool wouldn't really be losing the target man that Carroll is.
Admittedly, I was hugely skeptical when I first read about Llorente even being considered as a Liverpool target, but after seeing the way they played against City today, I fully agree that a world-class finisher is necessary.
Before you get into that bus to run me over, remember how hotly criticized the last Fernando signing was at Anfield? Someone remind me how that turned out.
Edinson Cavani: El Matador
El Matador takes no prisoners. That killer instinct is non-existent at Liverpool right now.
As far-fetched and out of reach as Edinson Cavani may seem for Liverpool, he's perfect.
If you turn to "consistency" in a dictionary, you might find a picture of El Matador. In the last two seasons with Napoli, Cavani has played in 47 games and scored 33 times.
Pardon me, that's 94 matches and 66 goals divided by two seasons. In the two seasons before that he played in 36 and 37 games at Palermo, scoring 15 in each season. Phenomenal is not quite the word to describe that.
A consistent goal scorer with a killer instinct would catapult Liverpool upwards on the EPL table if they continue to play the way they did today against City.
Let's not forget that goal scoring, or lack thereof, was the chief reason Liverpool finished eighth on the table.
Let's also try and stay grounded in reality. Yes, it's blatantly obvious to see how a player's production like Cavani's could improve a side like Liverpool. It's also easy to see how Suarez and Cavani have a good understanding from their international duties.
If Rodgers can sell enough players like Carroll, Adam, Cole and Spearing in time, then he could muster up in the neighborhood of £25-30 million. That's still a far cry from the £35 million Chelsea and Juventus have been reported to be offering, according to The Sun.
Reports are also out that Zenit's deal with FC Porto for Hulk has fallen through, because the aptly named Brazilian only wants to play in the EPL or La Liga. According to the International Business Times, Chelsea is prepared to swoop in.
As talented as Hulk is, with a figure of €50 million being thrown around, we won't even touch on him for Liverpool, but it appears that Roberto Di Matteo is planning a serious coup for world-class front men.
If you think Cavani is pie-in-the-sky, slap-me-silly crazy, go to the next slide and realize the full intent of my scheming transfer window insanity.
There's a Perfect Storm Brewing at Stamford Bridge
Call me crazy. I agree.
This one's a doozy, huh?
In what possible world could Fernando Torres return to Liverpool? Let's connect the dots, shall we?
Fernando Torres has not nearly lived up to the £50 million price tag that Chelsea paid for him. Granted, he's been out-of-form and is just starting to get his groove back from his leg injury a couple of years ago.
Why would Chelsea be pursuing all-world strikers the likes of Cavani and Hulk, when they already have one in Torres?
Why would Chelsea usher out Didier Drogba and leave an out-of-form Torres as their lead man? Wasn't the excuse for their incompatibility that the system only utilized one central forward?
Could it be that Roberto Di Matteo is trying to bring in Cavani and Hulk in an attempt to usher out Torres?
This apparently deranged sportswriter thinks it's plausible. Chelsea has never been happy with Torres, and Torres has never truly looked comfortable playing for Chelsea. Yes, he had a fantastic goal over the weekend, but that alone isn't enough to make up for all of the times he was left riding the pine last season.
Torres loved Liverpool and it's not hard to see that fans are still infatuated with El Niño. He's just getting back to form, and is looking like the Spaniard that stole our hearts all those years ago. He's even growing his hair out again.
This all seems very twisted and highly unlikely, but stranger things have happened in the transfer windows of seasons past.
Alternative to Signing a Top Scorer
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Liverpool's play was definitely encouraging on the day, and if I can back-pedal a bit, signing a world-class striker in August is not essential to Rodgers' lofty goals for this season.
It would certainly help if Rodgers' 4-3-3 creates the type of chances we saw today, but Liverpool can conceivably skirt by until January with another minor signing or two.
These next few months could serve as proving grounds for Rodgers to loosen Fenway Sports Group's grip on the piggy bank.
If the Reds are anywhere in the top six and not too far off the pace, FSG might be willing to splurge come January.
Things would be a lot easier if they just did it now, but Rodgers must prove himself.
According to People.co.uk, Liverpool is putting together an offer of £10 million for Clint Dempsey, but don't ask Martin Jol, he probably still hasn't heard anything "official."
Dempsey would definitely bring a lot of things to Merseyside, but he is far from the caliber of the world-class strikers discussed in the previous slides.
With Nuri Sahin officially signed and the Reds finally starting to play Rodgers' type of game, perhaps it's not essential for them to sign a Llorente, Cavani or Torres, but it will certainly make it a rough next few months.