Liverpool Transfers: How Much Will Simon Mignolet, Other New Signings Feature?
Liverpool completed the signing of Belgian goalkeeper Simon Mignolet on Tuesday evening, confirmed on the official club website, taking the total of new signings in the fledgling summer to four already.
Mignolet, joining from Sunderland, will challenge Pepe Reina and Brad Jones as the current first-team goalkeepers for a regular place in the side.
He follows on from the signings of Kolo Toure, Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto, all of whom have been confirmed as new Liverpool players for the 2013-14 season, but which of them can be expected to have the biggest impacts in their debut seasons on Merseyside?
Simon Mignolet joins the Reds a year before the World Cup and hoping to win his place in the Belgium national team ahead of Thibaut Courtois.
It is highly unlikely he will have agreed to a move if he knew he would be struggling for his place in the side—form and fitness depending, of course—so Reds fans should fully expect Mignolet to be the new Liverpool No. 1 from this point on.
Pepe Reina stands in his way, a record-breaking Reds goalkeeper and a fan favourite despite being below his best for the past few seasons, but it looks like it could be the end of the road for the Spaniard at this time.
Mignolet will be the first choice goalkeeper, and he should play around 40 matches next season.
Kolo Toure comes in as the replacement experienced centre-back for the retiring Jamie Carragher, but he will not be a direct replacement for the legend in the starting XI.
Instead, it should be expected that Toure will be a regular member of the matchday squad, but often from the bench—presuming, of course, that the Reds do eventually go out and spend big on a new first-choice centre-back.
As they must.
Toure will have plenty of uses, though; he should get several appearances from the start between the league and both domestic cups when required, but he can also serve an important function off the bench.
It's not often that top teams might change a central defender when leading, but Liverpool have often in the past year shown too fragile a mentality, and Toure can help change that in particular. A calm, experienced head in defence can be the difference between staying composed and in formation after conceding a goal, and very quickly conceding a second, which can cost precious points.
Expect Toure to make around 20 appearances all told, though if Brendan Rodgers is brave and clever, he can give Toure even more game time as a substitute in the final 20 minutes or so of several matches.
Luis Alberto is perhaps the signing who has drawn the most discussion so far this summer from Liverpool fans, on social media and the like.
The former Sevilla attacker, who spent last season on loan at Barcelona B, can play in pretty much any attacking role required of him, which should boost his chances of time on the pitch, but he also has experienced players ahead of him.
As the Liverpool website reports, Ian Ayre claimed Alberto was "top of the list" of players to sign this summer for his position so there is an element of expectation that he will be heavily involved in the first team, albeit perhaps not from the start and not just in one role.
Alberto could see significant game time from the left side of the attack, while you can expect to see him play centrally over the longer duration of the season, too.
All told, the Spaniard should be looking at playing upwards of 25 matches for Liverpool this upcoming season. What percentage of those games come from the start will be dictated by how well he settles and just how well he compares to the likes of Philippe Coutinho.
Finally, on to the most senior attacker to join the club this summer so far: former Celta Vigo forward Iago Aspas.
Liverpool have clearly brought Aspas in to play a significant role in terms of appearance numbers, but again...how many will be from starts?
The smart money is on Iago Aspas featuring in the majority of games for Liverpool next season; like Mignolet, fans should expect him to play in anywhere from 32 to 40 matches in all competitions. Hopefully, he will add a dozen goals or so in the process, depending on whether Rodgers favours using him from a wide role or as the lead attacker.
However, Aspas could certainly be seen as the "first sub" for the attack, regardless of the actual position being changed, so he will likely play a heavy number of those appearances off the bench.
Aspas could be a version of Jordan Henderson in Liverpool's attacking lineup—last season he made 16 league starts and 14 appearances off the bench. That could well be Aspas' contribution to the side: to fill in as and where needed and still play an important role for the club whether he starts or comes off the bench.