As the January transfer window approaches us yet again, speculation has started mounting throughout the football world. Liverpool have one of the thinnest squads, with only Luis Suarez as a senior striker carrying the charge up front in the absence of the injured Fabio Borini and Andy Carroll, who was loaned out to West Ham.
Thus, it is only natural to expect tabloids to link the Reds with names from every corner of this world. It is still unclear as to what amount will Brendan Rodgers be given to strengthen his battered troops this January. What is certain, however, is that Liverpool will indeed spend, as confirmed by the gaffer himself.
How can they not, if they want to achieve qualification to the coveted and lucrative Champions League competition? So, let us get started with calling fact, fiction or pass—in case the scenario is finely balanced—on all the players whose names have started pouring in before this winter.
ESPN (soccernet) has been the latest to report that Liverpool are interested in Lacina Traore of Anzhi Makhachkala, a team involved with the Reds in the group stages of the Europa League. In fact, Traore scored the winner for Anzhi in the last game that the sides played in the Europa League in a 1–0 win in Russia.
Even though Traore is a lanky forward, he has good pace and would be a good signing at the right price. He is also very young at only 22 and thus has a higher probability than some of the older players in the market of being snapped up by Liverpool given their recent trend of signing young talent. However, Traore's contract runs till 2016 and he will not come cheap.
What is more startling is what Traore's agent, Dmitry Selyuk, had to say when linking the player with other teams such as Udinese: "I'm afraid the Italian side won't be able to meet the player's valuation."
In other words, what Mr. Selyuk is saying is that a team that could not fork over £6 million for Clint Dempsey is more likely to sign Traore. It just does not add up.
I still do think there is something to this story with Anzhi not being in the Champions League and having an even chance of qualifying for next year's competition. Somehow, this is fact for me, although we will have to wait and watch.
Klaas Jan Huntelaar is also reportedly linked to Liverpool, according to Fox Sports. With the Schalke man being 29 already, I do not see any reason why the Liverpool board will sanction close to £10 million on Huntelaar. Moreover, the Dutchman is nearing the final few years where he will be at or close to his peak. In such a scenario, any top player wants trophies, and Huntelaar is no different.
Liverpool are a team in transition and I do not see the reasons for Huntelaar to decide that Anfield would be the best place suited for him. This may have been more likely if there were no other suitors or teams courting Huntelaar, which can hardly be the case come January.
Even though I would love the combination of Huntelaar and Luis Suarez for Liverpool, my emotion may not be shared by Huntelaar despite having tremendous success with Suarez as his former strike partner at Ajax. Hence, this will have to go down as fiction.
Wilfried Bony is another name Liverpool have been linked to in recent weeks, according to The Sunday Express (h/t Yahoo! Eurosport). Considering Brendan Rodgers' lack of options up front and Liverpool's woes in front of goal not totally eradicated, expect the Reds to be linked to more and more strikers and prolific scorers.
In Bony, Vitesse have just that. He is a good target man to have similar to Carroll but with more attributes that will help Rodgers' cause. Bony may have already stated that "it would be an honor" to play for Chelsea, but you cannot rule him out simply because of that. Rodgers has been known to take a keen interest in the league that Bony's current parent club, Vitesse, play in, and there is no ruling out this move. This goes through the scanner as fact.
Demba Ba is another name that has been associated with a transfer to Liverpool for the last month or so, as The Daily Mail reports. Considering that the Senegalese is already 27 and injury prone, it is hard to see Rodgers move for him, even at a very affordable price of around £7 million, which is the speculated release clause for the player.
In some ways, fans do not know what is affordable for Liverpool these days and what is not. The Reds spent £20 million for Stewart Downing but could not cough up even five for Clint Dempsey, a player with nearly double assists and goals if you compare the respective seasons the two had when they were pursued by Liverpool.
If Demba Ba does indeed end up at Anfield, it will be in the summer and not this winter. Thus, the verdict is pass.
Liverpool want young players with talent alright, and Isco is one of the best at present. Strangely, he has been linked with Liverpool (Daily Mail report here) despite the evident lack of transfer budget for the Reds and a hugely talented midfield having little space for even the likes of Lucas (when he returns).
Do Liverpool need Isco? I don't think so. So, even if Tom Werner is hinting at some good January transfer business, I cannot possibly see Isco being courted when the team is definitely lacking in various other areas. It is there for even the bats roaming Anfield at night to see.
Most obviously, fiction.
With Fernando Llorente's contract set to expire, he can be targeted and Liverpool may be interested in doing just that, as The Guardian reported. Would he come to Liverpool is, however, a question I as a Liverpool fan am not keen to answer.
He is a player who will surely thrive at Liverpool and in the current system. With Luis Suarez in red-hot form and more than a handful Spanish players at Anfield, there are plenty of reasons for Llorente to take up the challenge. The Reds unfortunately languish in a position that is not pretty to any prospective candidate for the striker's role under Rodgers.
Yes, Liverpool are improving and they have had hard luck, but who is going to explain that to another Fernando (Llorente) Torres? Can you honestly picture Brendan Rodgers doing that?
Yes? Seriously? Maybe you have not seen Being: Liverpool. Please do, and maybe you will concur with me on this being fiction.
Admittedly, I have tried to bring in more players that are being linked because the verdict has been given before for the Walcotts and the Sturridges, who in all likeliness are better bets to arrive at Liverpool this winter.
The two "facts" for Bony and Traore are very marginal facts. I personally think no one from this lot will arrive to play alongside Suarez.
Let us wait for January, then. I am sure Liverpool's first signing will be made within the first week itself. Please feel free to opine and comment.