Few teams in the Premier League have been quite as busy as Liverpool over the summer, as the team has made four signings and doesn't appear close to done just yet. After last summer, when the team really didn't improve, the Reds have certainly hit the ground running this year.
But how good are these signings? Has the team really improved?
I'm glad you asked. Let's break down Liverpool's early signings.
Mignolet is without question Liverpool's most important signing thus far. The keeper will be expected to step in for Pepe Reina after being brought to Anfield from Sunderland in a £9 million deal (BBC).
According to WhoScored.com, he was the top-ranked keeper in the Premier League last season with an average match rating of 7.01. Meanwhile, Reina was well down the list at—wouldn't you know it—a 6.66 average rating.
Mignolet kept 11 clean sheets in 40 total meetings and, at just 25 years of age, should be Liverpool's keeper for years to come. This was an excellent piece of business by the Reds early in the offseason.
The question with Aspas is why he was purchased from Celta Vigo for £7 million (BBC). Was it simply to give Brendan Rodgers another option at forward, with the positional versatility of both Aspas and Daniel Sturridge taken into consideration?
Or was it done knowing Luis Suarez was likely to bolt over the summer, thus making the plan a pairing of Aspas and Sturridge as the striking force in case the team can't bring in a more high-profile forward?
If the former is the plan then it's a logical enough move. Aspas could play behind Suarez or even out wide if needed. But if the latter is the plan, well, Liverpool fans may not be pleased with the drop-off in offensive production the team will face without Suarez.
Exhibit A from the 2012-13 season:
Exhibit B from the 2012-13 season:
Aspas is a gritty, hard-working player who has plenty of skill and can facilitate for his teammates. But he's not a replacement for Suarez, that much is certain.
Liverpol's £6.8 million buy from Sevilla (BBC) is a purchase for the future, though it could be a very bright future indeed. While he registered 11 goals and 15 assists with Barcelona's B-team last year, it would be wise to reserve judgement until we've all seen him against top-notch competition.
Still, he's a clever, versatile youngster who will probably play on the wing for Liverpool but could also be utilized centrally behind the main striker or even in a false nine role.
And who knows, perhaps he'll end up being an immediate contributor and tidy bit of business like another gem of the future, Philippe Coutinho, who also exceeded expectations in his first half-season with Liverpool.
Hey, free is free, right?
It wasn't the sexiest of moves, but Toure has proven himself at top clubs like City and Arsenal. Sure, he fell out of favor last season and is 32 years old, but he can still play at a high level and should contribute for Liverpool from day one. It was a savvy bit of business to bring him on.
Who is Liverpool's best signing thus far?
Thus far, you have to like how busy Liverpool have been. Mignolet is an excellent signing, Toure was a smart one and both Aspas and Alberto could end up being major bangs for the buck. Liverpool has attacked the market and done so without breaking the bank.
So thus far, I'll give them a B+ for this transfer period. These aren't elite signings, but they are smart and useful ones. But everything—and I mean everything—hinges on them either retaining Suarez or replacing him with an elite striker should he bully his way out of Anfield.
In other words, that B+ is very, very tentative.