According to multiple sources, the trail for former youngster Tom Ince has gone cold, as Blackpool manager Michael Appleton insists that Liverpool up the stakes for the talented young striker or they will hold on to him at least until summer approaches.
That being the case, the Reds made a mistake by not getting back talent that they lost just 18 months ago.
It looked like Ince was a shoo-in to help Luis Suarez turn the tides at Anfield, as he just finished scoring 13 goals in 24 appearances with Blackpool as a 20-year-old winger. However, it appears Ince is now cup-tied after Appleton gave him the start on Saturday.
Blackpool started with Tom Ince in the FA Cup today, meaning he would be Cup tied if he moves to Liverpool / may reduce his transfer value.— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) January 5, 2013
As the fan site helped report on Twitter, that significantly reduces his transfer value and makes what manager Brendan Rodgers said about the transfer window a little bit clearer.
After spending in the neighborhood of £12 million on Sturridge, the club doesn't have the kind of pennies it will take to lure Ince to Anfield in the middle of the transfer window, especially after shelling out nearly £5 million more than Chelsea spent for striker Demba Ba.
Rodgers didn't have much to say about his team's transfer prospects, via this ESPN report:
Ince, formerly a Liverpool academy player, has been linked to a £6 million return, but when asked if there had been any progress with the deal Rodgers replied: "No."
That's not surprising given the amount of money the team is prepared to spend on Sturridge. However, is it the right move for a team desperate for help alongside Suarez, one of the best players in the world without a consistent threat beside him?
From a roster standpoint, it doesn't seem to be a big deal. Sturridge, Raheem Sterling, Suarez and Oussama Assaidi can all spend time on the wing, and adding another player to the mix might be redundant at this point.
But if you factor in the loss of midfielder Joe Cole to West Ham, what Chelsea spent on Ba and how the struggles of this team keep mounting, the case could certainly be made that Liverpool needs to upgrade by any means necessary.
It would have been cheaper to add the 20-year-old, and if he really wanted to be with the Reds in January it's doubtful that Blackpool would have been able to drive the price up too high. In that scenario, the club would have had room for another signing, specifically keeper Jack Butland or help for Joe Cole.
This isn't the end of the Ince pursuit. He can still come to Anfield in July, when Blackpool won't be able to do anything about the negotiation process if they haven't come to terms with him yet. By then, it will be a free transfer, and the Reds would still welcome him back with open arms.
With Ince now cup-tied and money seemingly dried up, it appears this is the Liverpool roster we'll have to get used to in the coming weeks. Adding Ince would have been nice, but it appears Sturridge was higher on the wish list.
We'll see if that was the right move or not in the coming weeks.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team. Follow @DowntownEG