Two in, seven out.
Thus stands Liverpool’s transfer record this January transfer window.
Here’s the complete breakdown:
Outs: Alexander Doni (Botafogo, free), Daniel Pacheco (SD Huesca, loan), Danny Wilson (Hearts, loan), Nuri Sahin (Real Madrid, loan terminated), Joe Cole (West Ham United, free), Adam Morgan (Rotherham United, loan), Michael Ngoo (Hearts, loan).
After the recent transfers, Liverpool’s registered Premier League-playing squad stands at 18 players plus the homegrown youngster contingent of Daniel Sturridge, Fabio Borini, Suso, Raheem Sterling, Jonjo Shelvey and Andre Wisdom, bringing the total number of established first-teamers to 24.
Given the number of games in a Reds season and an 18-man matchday squad, it is clear that a post-January Liverpool does not have the required depth to sustain a competitive level at the very top of the Premier League tree, and the current league table reflects this very reality.
Let’s first look at the players who have departed Anfield.
Daniel Pacheco and Danny Wilson both represented eras bygone at Liverpool, brought to Liverpool with the hopes that Anfield would feature two of the most exciting talents in European football in several seasons’ time.
The explosive start Pacheco made to his Reds career in a Champions League group-stage clash with Fiorentina in 2009 served only to heighten the expectation surrounding the young Spanish attacker.
After a period of loan spells at Norwich City and Rayo Vallecano, it is safe to say, with his current loan spell in Segunda Liga until the end of his Liverpool contract, that Pacheco’s potential has not been realized in a Red shirt.
Likewise Danny Wilson, who made a name for himself with Rangers in Scotland before securing a high-profile move to Liverpool, but unfortunately failed to assert himself in the first team. Just like Pacheco, his contract runs out in the summer, and after a series of loan spells, it is hard to envision a renewal of any sort.
Michael Ngoo and Adam Morgan’s loan deals to Hearts and Rotherham, respectively, will be considered pivotal to their Liverpool careers.
After a promising preseason where Morgan impressed his way into a senior debut, he eventually lost his place as a young bench option and will need to do well in League Two to catch Brendan Rodgers’ attention again.
Michael Ngoo’s move to Hearts will provide him with first-team action for the first time in his career, and he will need to build on his debut goal if he is to follow his academy teammates into the senior setup.
The remaining three departures, Alexander Doni, Nuri Sahin and Joe Cole, are the highlights of Liverpool’s sales this January, and more importantly represent expensive failures in Liverpool’s recent transfer history.
Though Doni was signed to provide competition to first-choice goalkeeper Pepe Reina, he failed to dislodge Reina from his post between the Anfield sticks.
When he was given the chance to deputize, he conceded a red card, losing his status as No. 2 to Brad Jones, who has since established himself as Rodgers’ backup option. A long leave back in Brazil due to personal reasons has finally ended with a contract termination.
Nuri Sahin proved to be an expensive loan signing from Real Madrid in the summer who reportedly cost a loan fee of £5 million and a commitment to pay the whole of his £2.2 million annual salary (Goal.com).
In his short time with Liverpool, Sahin contributed three goals and three assists in 12 appearances, but he never seemed quite able to adapt to the physical demands of the Premier League.
With the rise of Jonjo Shelvey and then Jordan Henderson as an attacking pivot, Sahin faded out of the first-team picture. Rodgers cut short his losses with chances of a permanent move for Sahin at the end of the season looking increasingly bleak.
While Joe Cole joined among much fanfare and attention after his early promise at West Ham and then his achievements at Chelsea, he quickly failed to prove his worth to the Liverpool cause.
At substantial wages of £92,000 a week, he cost Liverpool a fortune during his time at the club, with almost nothing to show for the investment (BBC Sport). Only back at Upton Park will he prove that he still possesses the ability that his early hype suggested he had, or that he was always destined to be a high-profile flop.
After the departures come the arrivals, and in Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool have secured two potential Reds stars. Two players who will be the face of the Rodgers Anfield revolution.
With pace, physicality, trickery and goal-scoring ability, Sturridge has quickly settled into the Liverpool attack, netting three goals in his first three games and generally impressing with his quick understanding with Luis Suarez.
Young, English and exciting, Sturridge represents a large part of Liverpool’s transfer policy, and Rodgers will hope that his show of faith in the ex-Chelsea youngster will reward him with a dynamic forward partnership that leads the Reds for years to come.
And the same applies with Coutinho, who, like Sturridge, perhaps failed to assert himself as a truly world-class young talent with his previous club, in this case Internazionale.
It was at Espanyol that Coutinho showed his ability in abundance under current Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino, and it will have been his speed and flair that caught Rodgers’ attention. He adds the continental side to the equation with his development in both Italy and Spain, and he will need to show that he has the hunger and ability to handle the Premier League.
Just as Joe Allen was not the finished article at the time of his arrival at Anfield, neither are Sturridge and Coutinho. That will provide plenty of both hope and apprehension as FSG will be looking forward to their contributions on the pitch.
But this was their chosen policy, and the summer appointment of Liverpool’s current young manager was testament to a forward-looking philosophy instilled in the higher corridors of Anfield.
Liverpool’s January departures are understandable and sure to be appreciated by the owners in terms of book-balancing and future preparation. But it will be the arrivals, designed to make instant and sustainable impact, that provide all the insight to Liverpool’s (and perhaps Brendan Rodgers’) fortunes.
It was not quite the memorable winter of 2011 that saw the departure of Fernando Torres and the arrival of a heralded new strikeforce featuring Suarez alongside club-record signing Andy Carroll, but January 2013 was equally intriguing.
And so far, Liverpool in February 2013 look in better shape than they did in 2012.
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