Liverpool: 5 Players Who Could Leave and Who Should Replace Them
Liverpool have begun a rebuilding phase under Brendan Rodgers, with the manager knowing he needs to bring in a lot of players to shape the squad as he wants. Of course, to bring new faces in, plenty of others have to make way.
The first transfer window brought in the likes of Joe Allen and Fabio Borini, while Dirk Kuyt, Craig Bellamy and Charlie Adam were amongst those who made way in Rodgers' first few weeks on the job, and more will have to follow both in January and next summer.
Liverpool's manager has reduced the wage bill significantly from the end of last season, so from now on there should hopefully be only exits from the club from a footballing point of view rather than to ease the finances.
Here are five players who will need to leave within the next two windows, and suggestions of who they could be replaced with.
Joe Cole: Wide Forward, Squad Player
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Right, so perhaps one final outgoing transfer might be financially motivated, at least in part. Liverpool can sustain Joe Cole's rather large wages no problem, but they certainly aren't getting fair value in return for them.
A recent pair of goals against Young Boys and West Ham have shown that the former Chelsea playmaker can be a threat off the bench at times for the Reds, but in truth, his displays have been so far below the required standard that he is as good as gone already.
If, that is, the Reds can find somebody to take him on.
Cole lacks the stamina to play a full game regularly, has been injured too often and is not quick enough to play that wide forward role effectively at times. Although, his movement must be acknowledged as something that the likes of Suso and Sterling can still learn from.
The No. 10 will be high on the list of players to leave though as Rodgers continues to shape his squad.
Possible Replacement: Tom Ince came through the Liverpool academy system before departing for Blackpool 18 months ago. He has blossomed with regular football and has been linked with a move back to the Reds. He would provide pace and skill and is also a goal threat, making him a good impact option off the bench at worst.
Alexander Doni: Goalkeeper, Reserve
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Alexander Doni joined Liverpool from Roma in 2011 and has played four times for the Reds.
The Brazilian goalkeeper thought he had been given his chance when Pepe Reina was suspended last season, only to receive a red card himself and miss out on the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley.
Since the summer when Brendan Rodgers arrived, Doni has been unavailable to the team and has spent time back in Brazil. Brad Jones has become the No. 2 goalkeeper behind Reina. With some improved performances from the Australian, as well as his good standing within the squad, it is likely he will remain in that position.
Doni could be let go on a free transfer in January, or at the end of the season.
Possible Replacements: With Jones and Peter Gulacsi both members of the first team squad, and up to three young goalkeepers training with the under-21s and under-18s, it is unlikely that the Reds need to invest in a replacement.
Andy Carroll: Striker, out on Loan to West Ham United
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The biggest cash asset that Liverpool possess, who is clearly not vital to their future, is currently injured and out on loan: Andy Carroll.
Carroll also still divides opinion somewhat amongst fans who think should either have never been bought, or never been allowed to leave on a temporary deal.
Liverpool's continued problems in front of goal leads to the latter group to bemoan his absence, while Carroll's solitary league goal for West Ham leads the former to point out that he has hardly shown he would be the answer anyway.
Either way, Brendan Rodgers clearly does not favour the former Newcastle United forward and it is likely he will be gone permanently before the start of the 2013-14 season.
The Reds will take a big hit on what they paid for him, but if they can recoup upwards of £15- to £17 million then it will at least give Rodgers funds to reinvest in the squad.
Possible Replacements: It is unlikely that Rodgers will consider a direct swap. If Liverpool bring in an out-and-out striker, it could be a squad option. However, the more likely event is that a better wide forward or attacking midfielder could be found with the additional funds.
Exactly who will depend on what Liverpool can offer—if they make the Champions League, the top players in the game will be real options again.
Henrik Mkhitaryan, Erik Lamela, Markel Susaeta, Hatem Ben Arfa—everybody will have their favourites, but the point is that the market will become far more open for Liverpool.
Stewart Downing: Winger, First Team
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The first real regular member of the first team squad to consider is Stewart Downing.
There is no denying that Downing has ability; his directness and pace are good and driving into space from deep he can look from time to time a real threat.
However, he is utterly undone by a lack of confidence and consistency. One great run and cross, or cutting in and shooting for the far corner is rarely followed by another.
Switching the winger to left-back this season has worked in games where the opposition lack a threat from the wide men attacking the penalty area but the lack of positional sense and awareness from Downing is both to be expected and dangerous for Liverpool to rely on.
He won't fetch half of what the Reds paid for him, but should still bring in significant funds.
Possible Replacements: Liverpool certainly need a wide forward to come in and replace Downing. Even though he doesn't start every game, the Reds need four top forwards to fill the three positions, essentially.
It's entirely feasible that he could leave in January, in which case some of the rumoured names such as Theo Walcott or Daniel Sturridge might be the most likely replacements.
Jose Enrique: Left-Back, First Team
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The second first team regular who will need replacing if Liverpool are to continue making the side better is left-back Jose Enrique.
Though he has returned to the side with some improved performances of late, Enrique remains a one-dimensional, low footballing-intelligence player who is at times a liability to the defence.
Being utilised in a more advanced role suited the Spaniard as he was able to use his pace and strength, and he showed admirable intent to get into the penalty area for someone with such a low scoring rate.
Even so, having to use him as a regular defender or winger shows the lack of quality and depth in the Liverpool squad. Enrique should bring in a fair sum if he is transferred out.
Possible Replacements: Liverpool need a new left-back but finding a quality one might be difficult. This could be a transfer that has to wait until summer, and if the Reds have Champions League football to offer then all the better, but they'll need a replacement either way.
Aly Cissokho, Davide Santon, Alvaro Pereira or Jeremy Mathieu might all be considered potential options, though youngster Jack Robinson will also still be hoping he can prove to be the next first team left-back.