Picking a Liverpool XI to Include Kolo Toure
The experienced Ivory Coast international, 32, had been deemed surplus to requirements by the mega-rich north-west club after having played 103 matches for City since arriving from Arsenal on a four-year contract worth £16 million in July 2009.
However, questions are already beginning to swirl around Merseyside as to where exactly the central defender/right back/holding midfield player will fit in to Rodgers’ Reds lineup next season, if at all.
Well, depending upon just who exactly the Northern Irishman ends up having to sell when the transfer market reopens on July 1, and in turn who he is then able to sign as either possible replacements, or simply as new recruits, this is how Liverpool could line up in 2013-14 with the Ivorian among their ranks.
Goalkeeper: Jose Manuel Reina
Following Victor Valdes’ shock announcement last week that he would now be staying at Camp Nou for next season after all rather than leaving the Catalans this summer, as reported by Sky Sports, the Reds’ own Spain international looks set to also be staying put at Anfield until 2014.
Centre-Back: Daniel Agger
Liverpool’s Great Dane had without doubt his best-ever campaign for the club last season since signing for the Reds from Bronby in Jan 2006.
He played in 35 of their 38 Premier League fixtures, the first time that the 28-year-old had ever managed more than 27 top-flight appearances for the Merseysiders.
Centre-Back: Toby Alderweireld
Centre-Back: Kolo Toure
Rodgers was known to favour using three central defenders at the back on several occasions during his debut campaign in charge of the club, sometimes even switching to the system during a match, and this is where we could see the veteran Ivorian stationed in his first foray into the Liverpool team.
Toure can operate in a variety of different roles, which was part of his attraction in the first place, but making full use of his two best qualities—extreme pace and an outstanding ability to read the game—should see him, initially at least, parked in the centre of the Reds’ back four, with Agger to his left and Alderweireld to his right.
Right Wing-Back: Glen Johnson
Like Agger, Glen Johnson also had one of his best-ever campaigns in the red of Liverpool last season, with his marauding and buccaneering runs from full-back now very much a staple feature of the 28-year-old’s all-action game.
And that is why Rodgers often favours this type of lineup. Rather than being too defensive, as some critics often suggest, it can actually be a far more dynamic system when set up in the right way, although it needs mobile and pacy wing-backs like Johnson to make it work.
Left Wing-Back: Jose Enrique
Despite mounting speculation that Rodgers will bring in a replacement for the Spaniard this summer, the 27-year-old actually enjoyed a fine and, for the large part, error-free campaign for the Reds last time out, while his attacking style of play also fits in perfectly to this adventurous-looking lineup.
Central Midfield: Lucas Leiva
Liverpool’s Mr. Dependable and an absolutely vital cog in the Rodgers system being the man to break up the opposition counterattacks and put out fires in front of his back four, which the Brazil international is now an expert in.
He will have a crucial role, though, to play alongside his captain in this new 3-4-1-1 system as he patrols and protects his defence.
Central Midfield: Steven Gerrard (c)
The Reds’ very own Captain Marvel was on course to play in every single minute of Liverpool’s entire Premier League campaign until opting to bring forward surgery on a longstanding shoulder problem once it became clear that the club’s season was over at the start of May.
And, although the 33-year-old may now have to miss the start of the new season, once he has returned to full fitness he will take his place alongside Lucas in the centre of the Liverpool midfield, although in a slightly more advanced role than the Brazilian.
Attacking Midfield: Philippe Coutinho
Liverpool’s impish Brazil attacker was an absolute revelation having joined the club from Inter Milan for just £8.5 million in the January transfer window, with an eye-catching three goals and seven assists to his name in only 12 Premier League starts for the Reds.
With the expected departure of controversial front man Luis Suarez to Real Madrid, as reported by The Guardian, the creative burden is now going to fall even more heavily on the slender shoulders of the 20-year-old at Anfield from next season. And that is why Rodgers must get the playmaker as close to the opposition goal as often as possible.
Forward: Luis Alberto
Rodgers is hoping to tie up a deal for Sevilla’s highly rated Spain Under-21 international in the coming days, according to talkSPORT. If the Northern Irishman succeeds, the 20-year-old could be thrust straight into the Liverpool starting lineup, operating in "the hole” just behind a lone front man.
Striker: Daniel Sturridge
Once the red-hot England international has fully recovered from the serious-looking ankle injury that he sustained playing for his country against Republic of Ireland last Wednesday—and some reports claim the 23-year-old could be sidelined for as much as four months due to damage done to his ligaments at Wembley—then the marksman will be straight back in the team, spearheading the Liverpool attack.
GK: Alex McCarthy (Rodgers wants to bring the England U21 international to Anfield this summer to replace Brad Jones, according to the Daily Star, and who would blame him after the youngster’s man-of-the-match display against the Reds at the Madejski last April)
LWB: Danny Rose (another who the Northern Irishman is interested in signing, reports the Daily Mail)
CB: Martin Kelly (having finally recovered from his knee ligament injury)
CM: Jordan Henderson
CM: Joe Allen
ST: Iago Aspas (should finally complete his widely expected £6 million move from Celta de Vigo this week)
ST: Fabio Borini