Liverpool started their January transfer window with a bang, bringing Daniel Sturridge in for a reported £12 million (Guardian). On Sunday night, Sturridge started his Liverpool career on a high, scoring in the FA Cup third-round tie against Mansfield Town only seven minutes into his debut.
A positive first foray into the winter market for Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool, but reports continually link the Reds with more signings.
On the flipside, Joe Cole sealed a return to West Ham United last week and promptly contributed two assists on his Hammers debut against Manchester United in the FA Cup on Saturday, and there are more linked with the Anfield exit door.
But football is a squad game, and there are some players that Liverpool just can’t afford to lose this January.
Here are five of them—and, as usual, let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
The first and most blindingly obvious is Luis Suarez, scorer of 18 goals in all competitions for Liverpool this season.
Having been linked with a move to Serie A leaders Juventus in recent months, Suarez went on record stating his preference to stay at Liverpool (ESPN), which will have come to the comfort of many Reds fans.
His importance to the Liverpool cause and to Brendan Rodgers’ chances of bringing success back to Anfield cannot be understated. With the No. 7 so central to the club’s plans for the future, they will be on the lookout to ward off any bids from potential suitors.
Brendan Rodgers may have gone out of his way to state that he won’t be letting Pepe Reina leave Anfield, but that hasn’t stopped the rumors linking him with a move away and a few up-and-coming goalkeepers as potential replacements (BBC).
That Reina’s form has been on the decline for the past few seasons is apparent; that there is a need to replace him is not, yet.
With the likes of Jack Butland and Ron-Robert Zieler—both hot young prospects—linked (Daily Mail), Rodgers may be looking into securing a long-term successor to Reina’s place between the Anfield posts.
But given the immense presence that Reina has in the Liverpool dressing room, his on-field leadership and his popularity among Reds fans, it is imperative that Rodgers hangs onto him for another while yet.
With his chances coming few and far between this season, young Uruguayan defender Sebastian Coates has found himself linked with a loan move away from Anfield to boost his first-team prospects and gain some valuable first-team action (Liverpool Echo).
That would make sense if Liverpool had center-backs in abundance to cover for any possible injury to Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel.
As things stand, with Jamie Carragher continually on the wane, Rodgers’ third-choice central defender must be Coates, who got a run-out against Mansfield over the weekend.
Until a replacement is secured, Coates must continue to fill in on the bench for the time being.
In Liverpool’s summer pursuit for Clint Dempsey, Jordan Henderson was offered to the Craven Cottage club as a makeweight, only for Henderson himself to reject the move. Now that the winter window has arrived, Martin Jol is reportedly looking to put in a renewed bid for Liverpool’s No. 14 (Goal.com).
While Henderson has been largely restricted to substitute appearances and a peripheral role in Brendan Rodgers’ squad this season, he has been involved much more intimately in first-team action of late, such have been his encouraging performances in the midfield.
With Lucas still finding his feet after a long injury layoff, Steven Gerrard needing an occasional rest and Joe Allen playing less frequently, Henderson has increased in importance among the squad, and his versatility will prove vital in the coming months.
Yup. Liverpool can’t afford to lose Stewart Downing this January.
What a transformation he has enjoyed in his Reds career for us to be able to say that he is now an important member of the first-team squad at Anfield: From a bit-part and vastly underperforming winger, he has become a multifunctional squad player capable of filling in as left winger, right winger or left-back.
It seemed as if Downing’s Liverpool career was nearing its end when he revealed in December that Brendan Rodgers had given him permission to look for a new club (Daily Mail).
But in a busy recent two months, Downing has seized his first-team chances, which had arisen out of injuries to his teammates, and put in several encouraging performances.
While his long-term future at Anfield will still not be secure, especially if he wants first-team football week in, week out, Downing will continue to be an important squad player, at least until the summer.
That's when the newest batch of Academy wing graduates can mature into the first-team environment and when Rodgers can search for options in the summer market.
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