4 Liverpool Players Who May No Longer Have a Purpose at Anfield
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Brendan Rodgers has had the full season to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the unit he took command of at the beginning of the current campaign.
Some members of the squad failed to shine, some lost their sparkle while others used the intense pressure of forces like public scrutiny, managerial expectations and limited opportunity to transform themselves into bright sparks.
There have been some pleasant surprises in what has come out of Rodgers' first big wash in charge, and it is evident that not too many babies are likely to get thrown out when the dirty water is discarded. The rapid exit of Nuri Sahin is proof that Rodgers will pull a plug when he feels it needs to be pulled.
Loanees like Danny Wilson, Jay Spearing, Daniel Pacheco and Andy Carroll will more than likely find their temporary spells become permanent stays. Want-away first-team fringe player Sebastian Coates will find that his services will no longer be needed on at Anfield.
Preseason prevarications may have hampered Rodgers' ability to assemble the cast he might have wanted, but with almost a full season in the books, he is no doubt sharpening his axe.
Here is a look at some of the main contenders for the chopping block.
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Struggling to regain his manager’s confidence and the form that saw him voted fans’ Player of the Year in 2012, the big No. 37 has yet to play two games on the spin for Liverpool since January.
Skrtel’s performances in the two losses against Oldham Athletic and Southampton FC have not helped his plight. Calling his manager’s integrity into question has done even less so. His admission that he is willing to fight for his spot (via Liverpool FC) would point to him being on the outside looking in.
Despite signing a contract extension last year, it is becoming more apparent that the Slovakian’s seeming inability to adapt to Rodgers’ style of play will see him struggle as the Northern Irishman tries to instill this instinct into his defensive duo.
With the chatter around Swansea City’s Ashley Williams and Feyenoord Rotterdam’s Stefan de Vrij continuing unabated as targets (via Goal.com), along with the imminent return of the long-admired Martin Kelly, Skrtel could well be outward-bound this summer.
Signed from Zenit St Petersburg for £6 million under Rafa Benitez, Skrtel’s main purpose might be to attract the £13 million asking price that he is reportedly worth to add to the transfer kitty in the offseason.
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Despite flashes of brilliance in the Europa League and earning the Kop’s enduring respect after dressing Sir Alex Ferguson down on the sideline after being shown red in a September 23 clash against Manchester United, he never quite cemented his place with the first team.
With the resurgence of Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen’s expected return, the recent use of Philippe Coutinho in a more central role and the link to Christian Eriksen of AFC Ajax that refuses to go away, he will find it increasingly more difficult to get the run of games he would need to make himself invaluable to Rodgers’ future plans.
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On first impression, his speed and chicanery seemed to check the boxes that had for so long been left blank on the job description for the position of winger. However, the Moroccan international never quite got the foothold that many hoped he would.
His £2.3 million move from SC Heerenveen was a smart and quiet bit of business, and he had some sprightly moments in the Europa League, but his four EPL games didn’t live up to expectation. It may be that his most recent appearance at Anfield against West Ham United could prove his last in a home strip.
Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho’s inclusion offers Rodgers more options, and the emergence of a protected Raheem Sterling and another academy prospect in Suso, Assaidi will find himself lower in the pecking order.
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In his five seasons with Liverpool, he has yet to feature for the Reds in competitive play and spent much of his time on loan.
Although he was on the bench 23 times as Pepe Reina’s understudy when Kenny Dalglish assumed the reins in 2011, he never got to mind the space between the pipes.
The emergence of Australian Brad Jones as Reina’s backup shot-stopper means that 22-year-old Gulacsi, who is out of contract this season, will more than likely be given the opportunity to ply his trade elsewhere.
Rodgers is likely looking to bolster his options for the No. 1 spot with a more experienced goalie to push Pepe Reina and to perhaps move Jones, now 31 years old, a rung down the ladder.