Liverpool Summer Transfer Rumours: Calling Fact or Fiction on the Latest Gossip
It's never too early to start talking transfers in the world of football, and Liverpool FC are never far from the headlines in that regard.
The Reds added Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho to their squad during the January window, but manager Brendan Rodgers will be active in the market once again come the summer, regardless of Liverpool's final league position.
It was always likely that Rodgers would need three transfer windows to shape the Reds squad to his liking, so summer of 2013 will be pivotal to Liverpool's future under his guidance.
Here are all the latest rumours surrounding the club and potential moves for the summer—as well as calling fact or fiction on how likely each scenario is.
Feyenoord Duo: Stefan de Vrij and Bruno Martins Indi
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With Jamie Carragher retiring at the end of the 2012-13 season, Liverpool will have a gaping hole in their squad.
Not just at centre-back, Carragher's main position, but also in terms of having a vocal and organising player in the dressing room, a leader on the pitch and experienced head in what is a young squad.
Needless to say, the Reds are therefore going to be linked with every defender going this summer, and Mirror Football kick things off with a double-Dutch swoop on Feyenoord.
Holland internationals Stefan de Vrij and Bruno Martins Indi are first-team regulars at club and country now, both having just turned 21 this month.
While there is no doubting that both are defenders of enormous promise, it would be a surprise to see the Reds go for two young talents unless there was either a switch in formation for next year, or at least two senior defenders left the club—because Liverpool simply have to sign a more experienced, strong defender who can organise the team on a game-by-game basis.
Don't expect to see the Reds sign a 30-year-old defender, but even one who is in their mid-20s and has gained significant international experience would do the job if the quality is there.
In terms of the two Dutchmen, they are interesting options for sure, but the quoted combined price of £25 million is way too high.
Fact or fiction: Signing one young, promising talent is not out of the question, especially if Sebastian Coates leaves Anfield this summer. In that instance, Bruno Martins Indi seems the more likely of the two to be targeted, given their respective strengths on the field. We'll call Martins Indi: fact, and de Vrij: fiction.
Reina's Replacement: Guillermo Ochoa
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Ajaccio goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa is a man in demand if you believe his own quotes, as per Sky Sports:
There was some communication with Liverpool, but I let everything be handled by my agent and my club's president. My job is to remain focused and think about my team, Ajaccio. It will be difficult to choose between Liverpool, Milan, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter, Bayern, Dortmund. It depends on how everything happens, I'll then choose the best one regarding all aspects. The idea is to play for one of the best teams.
At 27 years of age the 50-cap Mexican keeper is experienced, of a young enough age to be a new club's No. 1 for several years and potentially available, given he will have just one season remaining on his contract at the end of the current campaign.
Ochoa is lithe and agile, shows good handling and reflexes, but whether his starting position, footwork and ability to dominate his area aerially compares with Pepe Reina is up for discussion.
Decision-making at key moments will also be a factor Liverpool have to heavily consider if they are to replace their long-serving Spaniard in the summer.
Much of Liverpool's business in the summer for this position will depend on Reina himself; at his best, he's probably the world's best fit for Rodgers' system. He hasn't shown that best form for some time, though.
The "new goalkeeper to Liverpool" story will run and run, all through the summer, no doubt.
Fact or fiction: Ochoa could well be in high demand, but for now at least, we'll call fiction on a possible move to Liverpool. Expect this deal to be revisited as July draws closer, though.
Angelo Ogbonna Rumours Resurface
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Not for the first time, ludicrous valuations of the player have been mentioned—£17 million this time for a player who, aged 24, has amassed just a small handful of international caps.
Without wishing to draw comparisons of player abilities, that amount of money could probably buy the Reds an entire new back four this summer, given who will be available on relatively low deals because of contract situations.
Ogbonna has attributes that Liverpool certainly need to look at bringing to the club, not the least of which are good pace, aerial strength and no shortage of versatility. But considering Ogbonna has less than 50 league appearances to his name in Italy's top flight (much of his experience is at Serie B level), the Reds would be foolish to look at paying such an extortionate amount for him.
Fact or fiction: Fiction this time, at least at that price. Arsenal are also said to be interested, with Ogbonna himself claiming he wants to win the Champions League. At present, it's not looking likely that either the Gunners or the Reds will be in that competition next season.
North of the Border Raid: Efe Ambrose
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Presumably they weren't recommending players already at top sides such as Yaya Toure. Shame.
Ambrose has played a big part of Celtic's season as they romp to an easy SPL victory in the absence of Rangers, and has also featured six times in the Champions League. Celtic qualified second in their group stage behind Barcelona, but lost convincingly in the first leg of the Round of 16 against Juventus.
Ambrose himself had a tough time that game, having only recently arrived back from AFCON duty.
The Celtic man played right-back for winners Nigeria during much of the tournament, though Metro describe him as a "midfield enforcer" in their report.
Fact or fiction: Fiction.
Another Raid on Newcastle United: Hatem Ben Arfa
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We finish up the roundup with a rare attacking player linked with the Reds—Newcastle United playmaker Hatem Ben Arfa.
Mirror Football claim that Liverpool have been in contact with a view to bringing Ben Arfa to Anfield in the summer, following in the footsteps of Andy Carroll and Jose Enrique during recent transfer windows.
There are no doubts about Ben Arfa's technical ability, but he has severely struggled with fitness and consistency this season, playing in less than half of the Magpies' league matches and only once in Europe.
As an option for the right side of Liverpool's attack, Ben Arfa would bring a real goal threat, great creativity and pace, with his love for running at defenders with the ball.
No fee is mentioned, but the Frenchman has two years left on his deal—any asking price would probably be somewhere around the £10 million mark. At that price, it could be a gamble worth taking for the Reds.
Fact or fiction: Fact on the interest. Whether it turns into anything more concrete remains to be seen, but Hatem Ben Arfa would be a very good signing for Liverpool if the fee was reasonable.