Change, it seems, is everywhere in football at the moment.
As the old guard departs and new hopeful heroes are ushered into the limelight, it has scarcely never been more important for teams to get their new acquisitions right.
For Liverpool―a club looking up at four of the six teams who’ll finish above them this season experiencing a change of manager over the summer―that need seems more pressing than most.
Brendan Rodgers’ first season in charge at Anfield has seen plenty to be positive about, but it has also flagged up several negatives.
Liverpool are still some way behind the elite group of teams in the Premier League―a group that they used to take it for granted that they’d be a part of―and it’s going to take something special to get back amongst them.
The winds of change are already blowing through Anfield with the forthcoming retirement of defender Jamie Carragher following Sunday’s final game of the season against Queens Park Rangers, and it is replacing the club stalwart that is Liverpool’s most pressing concern over the summer months.
Carragher’s impressive form over the second half of the season has ultimately limited the first-team chances of the likes of Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates, adding to the possibility that it won’t just be one centre-back that Rodgers and the Reds will have to replace this summer.
Whether it is one, two or maybe even three central defenders who leave the Reds in the close season, this position is clearly the imperative one that Liverpool need to improve on.
Just as it was the attacking department which needed to be replenished this time last year―and for an uncomfortable amount of the 2012/13 season come to think of it―so it has to be the defensive ranks now. Unlike last year, Rodgers and Reds owners Fenway Sports Group don’t have the excuse of naivety to hide behind to mask transfer failings.
At least one and potentially two fast, mobile and uncompromising central defenders need to be signed, and if they are comfortable with the ball at their feet then so much the better.
Such players are hard to find, of course, but with the likes of Toby Alderweireld (Liverpool Echo), Ashley Williams (Guardian) and Kyriakos Papadopoulos (Sabotage Times) all linked to the Reds in recent weeks, Rodgers certainly seems to be on the lookout for them.
These are the types of players that need to be Liverpool’s main focus over the summer, but there are other positions that need addressing too.
The Reds have a wealth of talented young full-backs in their squad, but perhaps some higher-profile competition for left-back Jose Enrique would spur the Spaniard’s level of performance on even more. Toulouse’s Aymen Abdennour (Daily Mail) and Lille’s Lucas Digne (Daily Mirror) have been linked.
Further forward, some muscle in the centre of midfield would also be well received and provide a different option to the likes of Lucas Leiva and Joe Allen in the deeper holding role. Celtic’s Victor Wanyama (Daily Mail) is sure to be a name on the shopping lists of many a team this summer, and the Reds could do a lot worse than bring in a player of the Kenyan’s ilk.
Ahead of him, Rodgers must also look at adding a different element to his team’s attack ahead of the new season.
In Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho he has some terrific attackers who are well-supported by the likes of Raheem Sterling, Fabio Borini and Stewart Downing.
An extra option could give the side an even greater threat though, and whilst a link with a player such as Christian Eriksen (Daily Mail) might have to be treated as just a fantasy purchase, the signing of another player who can contribute to Liverpool’s goal tally―a player such as Kevin Gameiro (Daily Express) perhaps―would give the squad a more stronger look if it was completed along with the moves listed above.
It’s quite likely that there will be names not listed here who end up at Anfield this summer, but the most important thing is that these gaps in the squad are filled.
In this summer of change, only then can the Reds say that they’ve changed for the better.
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