Projecting a Possible Liverpool Lineup to Start 2013-14 Premier League Season
This summer represents a vitally important period in the rebuilding project that Liverpool head coach Brendan Rodgers is currently undertaking at Anfield.
The Northern Irishman, who only succeeded previous manager Kenny Dalglish in the Anfield dug-out last year, has already made his intentions clear by recently stating (via the Daily Telegraph) that he needs “another three or four quality players” to add to the current Reds first-team squad following a successful January transfer window in which both striker Daniel Sturridge and midfielder Philippe Coutinho were brought to Merseyside.
However, with the club still only sitting in seventh place in the Barclays Premier League table and struggling to even qualify for next season’s UEFA Europa League on present showing, Rodgers knows that the business he conducts in the upcoming summer transfer window could ultimately end up deciding just how his reign as Liverpool boss is remembered.
So, this is how we at Bleacher Report see the Reds lining up in a 4-4-1-1 formation in their opening match of the next campaign.
Goalkeeper: Pepe Reina
Speculation has been rife of late that the Spain international could be about to bring an end to his highly successful seven-year career at Anfield (via the Daily Telegraph).
However, Pepe Reina has found a new lease of life under Rodgers and will likely spurn advances from both Arsenal and Barcelona to see out his career on Merseyside.
Right-Back: Glen Johnson
The 28-year-old has been one of Liverpool’s best performers this season and perhaps the most effective full-back in the Premier League as well.
There is no real need for any changes by the Reds in this position for next season because the England international just goes from strength to strength in every aspect of his high-energy game.
Centre-Back: Daniel Agger
Again, another defender who has enjoyed one of his most eye-catching campaigns for the club under the guidance of the new Liverpool boss, with the Dane even going so far as crediting Rodgers with his newfound fitness this season.
In turn, Daniel Agger has rewarded his manager with possibly his most consistent set of displays since arriving at Anfield in 2006.
Centre-Back: Ashley Williams
“There is no doubt there is a natural rebuilding that will come with the likes of Jamie Carragher retiring,” Rodgers said recently and with Martin Skrtel out of favour of late, it is an open secret that Rodgers will be signing a new central defender this summer, with many names being bandied about as possible contenders.
And, while Rodgers and his scouting team have been keeping a close eye on highly rated Feyenoord centre-back Stefan de Vrij (via the Daily Mail), his first choice remains Swansea City's £10 million-rated captain, Ashley Williams (via the Daily Mail), who he knows well from their time working together at the Liberty stadium and who has been a rock at the heart of the South Wales club's defence all season.
Now, while Liverpool know that Arsenal are also keen to sign the powerful Wales international this summer(via Metro), Rodgers will believe that he has the edge on the North London club and will be able to persuade the player to reject the Emirates in favour of being reunited with his former mentor.
One crucial factor, though, in Williams’ final decision could be whether or not the Gunners manage to qualify for next season’s Champions League, a lure that Liverpool most definitely do not have to offer.
Left-Back: Jose Enrique
Jose Enrique is yet another defensive player who has shown real improvement this season under the new manager’s guidance.
As a result, the Spaniard will be sure of starting the next campaign in his now familiar left-back role, with either Johnson or Stewart Downing able to deputise if needed.
Right Midfield: Hatem Ben Arfa
One area of the team that Rodgers is known to want to improve next season is in the wide areas, and the addition of Newcastle United right-winger Hatem Ben Arfa for £20 million should help in this regard.
Rodgers and Co. have been scouting the mercurial France international (via the Daily Mail) for some time now and believe that he could be just the man to bring some much-needed width, creativity, goals and a bit of je ne sais quoi to the right-hand side of the Reds midfield.
And with the unsettled 26-year-old looking for a new club, he could be an ideal new addition to the Liverpool ranks.
Defensive Midfield: Lucas Leiva
Like all good players, Lucas Leiva’s value to Liverpool soared during his two recent injury-enforced absences.
While the Brazilian has struggled at times in his comeback this campaign, that has been more down to him regaining his overall fitness levels than anything more sinister, and so Rodgers will not be on the look-out for any reinforcements in this critical area of the side.
Central Midfield: Steven Gerrard (C)
So far, the Liverpool skipper has quite remarkably played in every single minute of every Premier League game this season, which is testament to the physical work done by the England international following his near career-ending groin and ankle injuries last season.
And if there is one player whose name will always be the first one written down on Rodgers’ team sheet, then it is that of Liverpool’s inspirational leader.
Left Midfield: Philippe Coutinho
The little Brazilian schemer has been a revelation in the brief period that he has been at the club since surprising many in Europe by swapping San Siro for Anfield in an £8.5 million deal last January.
And, when he gets his fitness levels up to those of his teammates following a good preseason this summer, expect the twinkle-toed wide man to show us more of his tricks from a wide-left berth next season.
Attacking Midfield: Christian Eriksen
The diminutive Dane is one of the most coveted attacking midfield players currently plying their trade on the Continent, and with noises of late coming out of the Amsterdam ArenA that the 21-year-old has refused to accept the Eredivisie champions’ offer of a new deal (via ESPN), Liverpool look set to swoop (via the Independent) this summer in what would be a major transfer coup on their part.
Christian Eriksen has been an absolute revelation in Holland and would be the ideal man to fit into this new-look 4-4-1-1 formation that Liverpool used to employ with so much success under previous manager Rafa Benitez in 2008-09.
Centre-Forward: Daniel Sturridge
Next season really could prove to be a make-or-break campaign in the career of the England international front man.
This will be especially true when he is handed the enormous responsibility of having to lead the Liverpool line all by himself following the devastating loss of his strike partner, Luis Suarez, to Bayern Munich for around £40 million early in the summer—the German club and European powerhouse have made no secret of their interest in the Uruguayan.
However, with the skills, creativity and all-round imagination gathered behind him by Rodgers and Co. during the close of this season, the attacker will never have a better opportunity to be the main man at a big club and demonstrate to the watching world that he is a striker of genuine pedigree.
Goalkeeper: Brad Jones
Defender: Martin Kelly
Defender: Andre Wisdom
Midfield: Stewart Downing
Midfield: Jordan Henderson
Midfield: Tom Ince (a possible £6.6 million arrival from Blackpool via ESPN)
Attack: Kevin Gameiro (could potentially arrive for £10.5 million from Paris Saint-Germain via the Daily Express)