Transfer Rumors: What Next for Liverpool After Mkhitaryan?
So it's official. After weeks of speculation, Liverpool missed out on Armenian international Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
To make matters worse, he "dazzled" in his debut for Borussia Dortmund with a goal and an assist. It appears that for at least the immediate future, the Kop will be left to ponder what could have been.
However, life on Merseyside must go on. With Mkhitaryan out of the picture, and Suarez possibly on his way out, Liverpool must look to a few alternatives to improve their offense.
Here are a few ideas.
The Status Quo
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Brendan Rodgers may simply decide that rather than taking a second option, it is best to invest elsewhere.
With centre-back, left-back and the defensive midfield all presenting respective depth concerns, perhaps the offense will have to make do for the time being.
Given the January signings of Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge, plus the recent addition of Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto, that is not completely out of the question.
In that case, Coutinho could take the No. 10 role with Jordan Henderson in reserve. Sturridge would play up front with Fabio Borini as a possible reserve. The club could then pick from a number of options on the wings, including Alberto, Aspas, Stewart Downing, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Ibe among others.
And that's if you assume that Oussama Assaidi, Luis Suarez and Suso are leaving either on loans or being sold—which I do.
In the end, matters could be worse, especially if Ian Ayre makes a few major signings at the back.
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Mkhitaryan going to Germany presents a possible awkward flip-flop of sorts.
After some initial interest from Anfield, it appeared that the Danish midfielder was more intrigued by a move to Dortmund as of May. This came from ESPN.
However, it appears that Jurgen Klopp has filled the Mario Gotze-sized hole in his midfield and no longer has a need for Eriksen.
It appears to be a case of second best for Liverpool but that might not be a bad thing.
The Ajax midfielder comes highly rated and could immediately slot into the midfield three, sitting in front of Lucas and Steven Gerrard in the attacking role.
Eriksen is probably the fan favorite at the moment. His signature would be a minor coup for the club.
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That roar you heard at the Confederations Cup was the sound of Hulk coming off the pitch and 20-year-old crowd favorite Bernard coming on.
The winger was lightning in a bottle and made an immediate impact on proceedings.
He is the kind of versatile attacker who fits into the Rodgers system perfectly. He could also come relatively cheap, given his age and comparatively low profile at current club Atletico Mineiro.
For now, the rumors are coming from less reputable sources such as CaughtOffside.com. However, if the suggested valuation of £15 million has any truth to it, it could be something of a steal.
The cons are that Bernard and Coutinho, while both undoubtedly talented, are rather slight in a very physical league. Whether they could hold up to the wear and tear of a full campaign together is yet to be determined.
Past flops such as Denilson and Jo show that the "next big thing" out of Brazil does not always translate to the EPL.
On the plus side, the Bernard-Coutinho-Sturridge threesome could be something to see when running at full bore. Assuming that one of Borini, Aspas or Alberto can fill the fourth role, the offense might be humming along in no time.
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I have never heard of SambaFoot.com, and therefore do not entirely trust the website as a source behind the rumor that Ayre has lodged a £7.7 million bid for 21-year-old attacking midfielder Jorginho out of Italy.
Despite his description as a "starlet," Jorginho scored a mere two goals in 41 appearances in Serie B last season. He also has just one cap for the Italy Under-21 side.
All of the above are red flags for me.
Even though he is not exactly over the hill, Liverpool already has players competing for starting spots and producing at a higher level and at a younger age. For examples, see Sterling and Coutinho.
However, the broader theme does make sense. In the event that Rodgers does not see anyone else out there he believes is worth the kind of cash he wanted to spend on Mkhitaryan, he may opt for a small bid at a player for the future.
Whether or not Jorginho is the best representation of that profile is subject for debate.
The Long Shots
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And then there are the guys that Liverpool probably cannot get.
The Reds do not offer European football, but they do present the chance to start right away for a storied franchise.
Therefore, it might be worthwhile to try to bid above market and guarantee a starting place to individuals having their heads turned by the bigger clubs across Europe.
After all, if Suarez does go, FSG should have the money to spend big.
To that end, Rodgers could opt for an attacking midfielder, winger, striker or likely some combination of all three.
On the wing, perhaps Alexis Sanchez could work.
Up front, Liverpool could go big for Steven Jovetic, Roberto Soldado, Gonzalo Higuain or, for slightly less, Alvaro Morata.
Obviously, some of these names are more likely than others. But everyone has their price.
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In a recent article at ESPN, Rodgers claimed that he is targeting "two more signings."
Thus far, he has added necessary depth to the squad.
My guess is that he will go out and buy a big-name centre-back and one more player for the forward line.
We will see if one of the names listed dons Liverpool Red by September.