Liverpool's Potential Starting Lineup for the 2013-14 Season
The 2012-13 season may have just drawn to a close, but already thoughts are beginning to turn towards the next campaign and in the case of Liverpool, it promises to be an intriguing and hectic close season of comings and goings at Anfield.
Already, talk on Merseyside is being dominated by the controversy surrounding the Reds future of key striker Luis Suarez, who has signalled his intentions to quit the club and join Spanish giants Real Madrid, according to the Guardian.
And while the Uruguay international’s departure from Liverpool would, on the one hand, create a huge void to fill in the team’s front line, it will also result in manager Brendan Rodgers being armed with a far larger transfer war chest to spend this summer than he would otherwise have had at his disposal.
However, now comes the hard part for the young Northern Irishman in trying to recruit the right faces with which to help take the club forward in what is already shaping into a hugely significant campaign for both Rodgers, and more importantly the team itself.
This, then, is how Liverpool are likely to line up in their first fixture of the 2013-14 season:
Goalkeeper: Simon Mignolet
Right-Back: Glen Johnson
Following a series of consistent and eye-catching performances last season, with his rampaging runs from full-back now a key component in Rodgers’ attacking 4-3-3 lineup, the England international will be one of the first names down on the Liverpool team-sheet.
Centre-Back: Daniel Agger
The Dane had arguably his best ever campaign for the Reds last season, featuring in 35 of the club’s 38 top-flight fixtures, the most he has ever played in the Premier League since arriving at Anfield from Bronby in January 2006.
Now Rodgers and Co will be praying that the classy defender can make it two years in a row without picking up a serious injury to prolong his long run in the team.
Centre-Back: Kyriakos Papadopoulos
There will be a new central-defensive partnership at the back for Liverpool to kick off the new campaign with following the £15m arrival from Schalke 04 of this highly-rated young Greece international, if reports in the Sun are to be believed.
Tall, powerful, strong in the air and wanted by a whole host of other big-name European clubs, including the likes of both Chelsea and Atletico de Madrid, the 21-year-old centre-back will be attempting to fill retired veteran Jamie Carragher’s large shoes at Anfield.
Left-Back: Danny Rose
Rodgers is said to be a massive fan of the 21-year-old Tottenham Hotspur midfield player cum auxiliary left-back, according to the Daily Mail, and has tried to bring the England Under-21 international to Anfield in each of the previous two transfer windows.
Expect the speedster to be lining up on the left-hand side of the Reds' back four in August after the Liverpool manager makes it third time lucky in Rose’s case…
Holding Midfield Player: Lucas Leiva
It certainly can have been no coincidence that the Reds’ form picked up markedly after the Brazilian returned from a three-month layoff at the back end of last year, and the defensive midfield player will continue to be an absolutely vital cog in the Liverpool machine next season due to the way in which Rodgers sets his team up.
Midfield: Steven Gerrard (c)
Captain Fantastic may have just turned 33, but as always he will continue to be the heartbeat of the Liverpool team in the new campaign, as ever leading from the front with his actions on the field of play.
And, if Rodgers can somehow manage to extract another rare injury-free campaign from Gerrard next season, then expect more of those inspirational driving runs and shots from the centre of the park from one of the club’s greatest ever players.
Attacking Midfield: Philippe Coutinho
So much now rests on the slender shoulders of this impish Brazilian creator if Liverpool are to somehow muscle their way back into contention for a top-four Premier League finish in the upcoming campaign.
The twinkle-toed playmaker stunned everyone by slipping so seamlessly into life in the English top flight in the second half of last season following his £8.5m arrival from Inter Milan.
Now, though, the question on everyone’s lips is: Can the 20-year-old maintain that kind of devastating form when the 2013-14 campaign get under way? As a repetition of three goals and seven assists in just 13 Premier League matches to kick off the new season will go a long way towards propelling the Reds back into top-four contention
Attacking Midfield: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Liverpool have been tracking Shaktar Donetsk’s prolific Armenia international for some time now, reports the Daily Telegraph, with a view to bringing the 24-year-old to Anfield when the summer transfer window finally swings open for business once again on July 1.
And, with an eye-catching goalscoring record for the Ukrainian champions so far this season of 25 strikes in just 29 league outings, as well as also netting twice in his club’s run to the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League, this is clearly a player with an eye for goal.
Striker: Iago Aspas
Signed for £9m from Liga strugglers Celta de Vigo last week pending a medical, the diminutive and versatile forward can operate in a number of different positions in Rodgers’ ever-changing lineups.
However, after losing fellow front man Daniel Sturridge through injury for possibly as long as four months, the 25-year-old Spaniard will start the new campaign playing up front alongside the subject of the next slide hoping to reprise the deadly form in front of goal that ultimately kept his club in the top flight last season with 12 Liga goals in 33 outings.
STRIKER: Christian Benteke
The man given the unenviable task of trying to replace the irreplaceable at Anfield in the new campaign, reports the Daily Mail, but how will the young and exciting Belgium international cope with the pressure?
Well, with 19 goals in only 34 top-flight appearances in what was the Aston Villa attacker’s debut season in the Premier League last time out, the 22-year-old certainly has the all-round skills and goalscoring capabilities to give a passable impression in attack of Suarez.