Fabio Borini’s injury has commentators screaming about Liverpool’s striker shortage. The result has been an interesting juxtaposition between the Reds' perceived dearth of strikers and the multitude of rumors regarding a January transfer window remedy.
Some insist that Liverpool are in such dire straits that they must make an immediate move to secure a big-name striker at any cost. While the ownership has provided Brendan Rodgers with the funds to do so, making a panic move that leverages the financial future of the club would be a grave mistake.
Liverpool certainly do need to look for another goal scorer, but the abundance of youth players has the club in an advantageous position regarding the upcoming transfer window. With so many young players showing good quality when called into first-team service, Liverpool can afford to find a cost-effective short-term stopgap solution to their current lack of depth up front.
Brendan Rodgers and the club’s owners can feel good about the team’s long-term outlook, and should ensure that they don’t jeopardize their bright future with a splashy short-sighted signing.
It’s worth taking a look, therefore, at the pros and cons of five players rumored to be connected to a possible move to Liverpool.
Though he’s shown a degree of usefulness on the England squad, Chelsea seem inclined to part ways with the striker. After having failed to sign Sturridge last summer, Liverpool have looked into a loan possibility for the January transfer window.
Chelsea, however, are more interested in an outright sale of the speedy Sturridge. The London club has an asking price of £15 million, which Chelsea would put to use in a bid for Atletico Madrid striker Falcao.
Given that Chelsea are sitting comfortably atop the table, they are in a strong bargaining position and unlikely to be negotiated down in any Sturridge deal. Adding Falcao would certainly help the Blues, but with an already strong team, they can afford to stand pat rather than agree to less than desirable transfer terms.
Therefore, Sturridge remains an unlikely option for Liverpool. This is truly unfortunate because a Sturridge loan would perfectly solve Liverpool's short-term needs without sacrificing their financial future.
Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool are basically begging Theo Walcott to come to Anfield. On bended knees the Reds are offering Arsenal £10 million and promising Walcott contract terms of £5 million per year.
Much to the chagrin of Gunners fans now familiar with their top players being shown the door, Arsenal are inclined to sell. But Walcott is not enamored with the prospect of playing for Liverpool.
Walcott, and other top-flight players possibly on the move, have made clear their desire to go to destinations participating in the Champions League. With the Reds out of it this year and currently sitting mid-table, far from the qualifying position for next year, the luster of playing for Liverpool is much diminished.
With Walcott’s hesitance and the probability of a bidding war that will drive up Arsenal’s asking price, Liverpool are unlikely to land one of the world’s fastest players.
Even though his skill set is obviously alluring, it’s probably for the best that Liverpool miss out on Walcott. For the amount of money Walcott would cost, Liverpool could invest in two or three young players. Moreover, for all of his speed, Walcott would essentially play Borini’s position, merely exchanging speed for Borini’s high work rate. For less money, there are better upgrades to be had.
Newcastle has thus far failed to build on an impressive 2011/2012 campaign. Their lackluster start to the season and the fact that playing in Europa is more of a drain on players than it is a draw, has Newcastle mulling some potential transfer moves.
Rumors suggest that Ba’s contractual £7 million release clause is in effect for the January window. While Newcastle will probably seek to re-sign the Senegalese striker, for the right amount of money Ba could be lured away from St. James Park.
A cheaper option than Sturridge and Walcott, Ba should be heavily targeted by the Reds. Liverpool have created plenty of scoring opportunities, but done a horrific job of finishing. Ba is a natural finisher who wouldn’t let so many chances go wanting. Ba would also bring experience to a team replete with young players and add strength to a strike force that has speed but lacks size.
Signing Demba Ba is, in my opinion, Liverpool’s best option. He would sure up the team’s scoring issues and provide a serviceable backup to a potential Suarez suspension or injury. Ba would also take the pressure off Assaidi and Suso, who would be allowed to develop at a more reasonable pace, rather than prematurely pressing them into heavy action.
Like Ba, Darren Bent would provide Liverpool with a strong and experienced striker. Having been left out of a couple games with Aston Villa, one is inclined to think a move is imminent. Villa, however, insists that there is no rift between Bent and the club and that he is there to stay.
Bent was brought into Aston Villa for a club record £18 million. That kind of cost for a middle-sized club can’t be shed at a substantial loss. Liverpool, therefore, would have to pay close to that £18 million number, if not more, to steal Bent away.
Villa’s desire to either keep Bent or extract a huge price for his sale means that Bent is probably best left behind in favor of better options.
Even if Liverpool don’t pursue Bent, however, he may still impact the club’s transfer dealings. Newcastle are also looking to possibly acquire Bent and they would likely use the money from a sale of Ba to finance the move.
Even if the price on Ba climbs to something closer to Bent’s, Demba Ba probably remains Liverpool’s best option. While Bent finishes well, his style is close to that of Suarez. Ba, meanwhile, would provide a run of play that Liverpool currently lacks.
The 18-year-old Nathan Redmond is unhappy with Birmingham’s front office. Despite being due a new contract in September, Birmingham have opted to drag their feet. Their failure to offer the coveted prospect a long-term deal assures Redmond’s availability to other clubs.
Liverpool have long scouted Redmond, but so have the other big-name English teams. All that interest means the youngster with heaps of potential will not come cheaply. Still, for Liverpool, Redmond provides a less expensive option than Walcott and Sturridge. Plus, his youth and unhappiness with his current team might make Redmond amiable to a change of scene even if Liverpool can’t offer Champions League football.
The negative with a possible Redmond signing is that he is young and not established at the top level. Liverpool already have an abundance of talented youth trying to realize their potential. The addition of Redmond would be another great long-term move, but wouldn’t solve the club’s immediate needs for a top-flight striker.
Ideally, if Ba could be had cheaply, then the money saved on going for the Newcastle striker instead of someone like Walcott could be invested in the promising Redmond. Such a dual move would beautifully satisfy the long-term and short-term needs of the club.