After starting out the summer so well, Liverpool are stumbling as the transfer window comes to a close.
The clock is ticking, and the club hasn't done anything to address the situation at winger, defensive midfielder or centre-back. What's worse is that one of its targets throughout the summer, Christian Atsu, could be off to Chelsea.
Goal.com's Paul Clennam reported:
Chelsea are on the verge of completing a deal for Liverpool target Christian Atsu, Goal understands.
Jose Mourinho, who has already stolen Brazil international playmaker Willian from under the noses of Tottenham this summer, will now look to finalise a move for the highly-rated Porto winger.
Liverpool were in pole position to sign the Ghana international before displaying a reluctance to meet the Portuguese club's £3.5 million asking price for a player who has just a year left to run on his current contract.
Liverpool have to add another winger before September 2. Raheem Sterling, Jordon Ibe and Luis Alberto are the only natural wingers left in the club, after the Reds confirmed Oussama Assaidi was leaving on a season-long loan.
The Daily Mail's Neil Ashton reported Brendan Rodgers could be looking to bring in Victor Moses on a season-long loan in order to provide some depth on the wing. It would surely be an alternative to buying Atsu.
Of the two choices, Atsu would be the optimal choice.
It's always much better when you can acquire a talented youngster outright, rather than having to loan him in. When you buy a player, you're much more invested in his success. You're more willing to give him a run-out with the first team and let him bed into the squad than you are a loan player. After all, why try to develop a player who's going to be leaving at the end of the season?
Which player would you prefer for Liverpool?
Look at the Nuri Sahin loan. On paper, it was a great move for Liverpool. In execution, the loan was a big mistake, and Sahin was off by January. Rodgers didn't know how best to deploy the Turkish international because he hadn't seen much of the player before the season and wasn't going to have him when the year was over.
That alone would give Atsu the edge.
What swings things even more in the direction of the Ghanaian winger is his massive potential.
Atsu is very skilled on the ball for his age. He can use a variety of tricks to get past defenders. When you combine his dribbling ability with his pace, you've got a dangerous winger.
The Porto youngster can run past any defender if given some space. Rather than simply being a track star like Theo Walcott was early in his career, Atsu knows how and where to run in order to maximize the impact.
As you'd expect of any 21-year-old, Atsu is still a bit raw. He makes some foolish mistakes and has a tendency to put his head down and not look at the pitch before having an effort on goal.
Atsu would be the perfect kind of signing in terms of Liverpool's transfer policy. He's a young player who would come in for a small fee. Should he do well, the club would be able to make a nice bit of money.
It's a bit of a risk, but that's where Liverpool are right now. They have to take some gambles in the transfer market because they can't offer Champions League football. Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho were both risks when they arrived, and both have worked out extremely well.
If it's true that Rodgers wasn't willing to part with £3.5 million, that's extremely frustrating. That's not a lot of money to secure a promising young talent. You haven't risked much at all even if the player is a flop.
Instead, Rodgers' inability to sign the player has likely meant Chelsea jumped into the fray and stole away a talented player who could have been a major upgrade for Liverpool.