Picking a Reds Starting XI to Include Eriksen
Certainly nothing is finalized, but the rumors are beginning to gain steam over a possible Christian Eriksen summer move to Liverpool.
When transfer gossip moves beyond the less-than-reputable pages of such publications as the Mirror, the Daily Express or the Mail, then your ears should prick up a bit.
Take Sky Sports, for example. Today, it ran a story in which Ajax had to move to quash reports that personal terms had already been agreed upon.
ESPN ran a story along the same lines.
When a club feels the need to come out to legitimate press outlets to deny a claim, that often means there is a grain of truth to initial reports. And with Eriksen reportedly on his way out this summer, regardless of destination, this one makes sense.
The Dane fits perfectly into the No. 10 role that Brendan Rodgers prizes. He has the talent to fill the creator position that Jordan Henderson has awkwardly, albeit admirably, occupied this campaign.
With that in mind, we jump the gun a bit and take a look at a possible Reds first team going into 2013/14.
GK: Pepe Reina
This has been far from a dream season for the Spaniard. However, at the end of the day, he is still world-class.
As they say, form is temporary, class is permanent.
There is also the simple fact to consider that Liverpool have more pressing needs all over the pitch. With pending turnover coming for likely half of the back line, expect the club to maintain stability between the posts.
RWB: Glen Johnson
Reserve: Andre Wisdom
This weekend's performance notwithstanding, Glen Johnson has been outstanding this term. The right back is England's best and certainly Liverpool's, as well.
He is assured of his spot and will be one of the first on the team sheet next season.
CB: Daniel Agger
Daniel Agger might be the last man standing at centre-back for the Reds this offseason.
With the exception of Martin Kelly, who has played the position before, Jamie Carragher, Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates could all easily be on their way out.
That leaves the Dane all but guaranteed of his place.
CB: Jamie Carragher
Reserve: ANYONE brought in this summer
Rodgers has shown an unwillingness to trust anyone else in the middle of his defense.
The situation is so dire that ESPN broke a story claiming that the gaffer will be sitting down with his veteran defender to try to talk him out of retirement.
More than likely, a summer signing will come in to take this spot, and Carragher will head to the commentator's booth as previously stated.
However, until the Reds officially get someone to put pen to paper, this is the most likely option.
Reserve: Jose Enrique
Jose Enrique has performed well for the Reds, but only sporadically. He is a proficient full-back but not a world-class one.
He may very well end up getting another year on the pitch for lack of alternatives. On the contrary, I find it more likely that someone will come in and win Rodgers' favor in training camp.
Pictured above is Jetro Willems, but there are a number of names out there that might fill the berth. That is a conversation for another day.
CM: Steven Gerrard
Reserve: Joe Allen, Jordan Henderson
Every year, we expect Captain Fantastic to begin his decline. Every year, the obdurate Englishman parries back on that notion.
He is one of only three individuals who have played every minute of this Premier League season. With age, he has slotted perfectly from an attacking to a deep-lying creative midfield role.
Eventually, the club will need to find a viable alternative for him. He is essentially playing the position that Xabi Alonso occupied a few years ago.
Joe Allen will probably get a full campaign to try to fill this spot.
CDM/CM: Lucas or TBD
This week, Sky Sports reported that Lucas had penned a new deal on Merseyside.
Color me a skeptic that he is the long-term option. I would not be surprised if someone in the mould of Yann M'Vila comes in this summer and beats out Lucas for minutes.
Certainly, the Brazilian has been rehabbing this campaign. But do you really see him ever fully replacing Javier Mascherano at the back of the midfield?
While the numbers at times say yes, the eye test says no.
Rodgers has essentially concurred indirectly. He claimed in an earlier interview that he wants more "steel" in his side's midfield.
This is that position.
CAM: Christian Eriksen
Reserve: Jordan Henderson, a deep-lying Luis Suarez or Philippe Coutinho
This would be a huge coup for Liverpool. Eriksen is a future star that many across Europe have long prized.
But perhaps the history at Anfield and the guarantee of starting minutes will be enough to entice the Dane to Merseyside.
No matter the reason, if he falls in Rodgers' lap, then Ian Ayre has to move at once to sign him.
At 21, Eriksen could be the talisman for a long time to come. He fits the 4-2-3-1 perfectly and is a great pass-and-move player.
The big plus is his ability to put in that last pass that leads to a goal, ala Andrea Pirlo or Xavi. Despite all of Jordan Henderson's industry and work ethic, that is one skill he might never fully acquire.
Eriksen could be the guy to make the top four a reality.
RW/RCF: Daniel Sturridge
Reserve: Stewart Downing
Rodgers is finally close to having the personnel he prizes to utilize an interchangeable front three.
Sturridge is listed on the right wing here, but he will just as often overlap into the box and at times play the central striker role.
Should the club need width, Downing can easily come in and play a more traditional right-sided midfielder role.
LW/LCF: Philippe Coutinho
Reserve: Raheem Sterling
Rarely does someone so slight of frame come into the physical English game and make such an immediate impact. That much is very promising.
Like Sturridge, Coutinho can play a number of roles across the front. He can either play wing or spell a potential Eriksen deployment in the center.
With Sterling in reserve, there should be a great deal of firepower coming from the left flank to trouble defenders.
CF: Luis Suarez
Reserve: Daniel Sturridge, Andy Carroll?, TBD
Suarez is Liverpool's best player and likely the best in the whole league, as well.
If the Reds sell the Uruguayan, they are basically saying that they are a top-six team with limited ambition for the foreseeable future. John Henry and co. will have their mettle tested on that front this offseason.
Centre-back, left-back, defensive midfielder and attacking midfielder are all more pressing needs. Thus, even if Skrtel, Coates, Carroll, Shelvey and a few others get sold this summer, Liverpool still may not have enough money to bring in a reserve striker.
My guess is that Sturridge will be the backup for now in the middle. The club might take a flyer on an underpriced hit-or-miss striker if not.