So, in this second part of my 20-part look at the three transfers that could improve each team in the Barclays Premier League, I look at Liverpool, a team that promised so much, but delivered nothing at the end of the day.
Looking at the Liverpool team now, there seems to be an over-reliance on Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres. Even Rafa Benitez, the walking encyclopaedia of facts has admitted this indirectly, stating that they would have won the title if Gerrard and Torres had started together more often.
Obviously then, the quality of the replacements is an issue here, and if Liverpool had the options upfront that Manchester United had, I am sure they would have had a better chance of winning the title.
Fernando Torres is a world-beater when he’s fit and on form. However, this season, Liverpool have dominated matches without killing their opponents off on numerous occasions, and the absence of Torres might be pointed to as the cause of that.
As such, it is definitely vital for Liverpool to sign back-up for their talented Spanish striker. It will not be easy to find someone who is good enough to step in, and yet be willing to sit around on the bench waiting for opportunities. Andriy Voronin certainly was not happy sitting on the bench at Liverpool, and it does not look like he has a future at Anfield anymore.
Looking around at who might be available, I can think of two players Liverpool could sign and who would be willing to wait for their chance.
The first is Michael Owen. Yes, Michael “Look Ma, I’m at Newcastle and picking up wages to get injured” Owen. He used to be one of the most-feared strikers in the world, but then injuries robbed him of his pace, and he became less effective.
However, he still possesses a good finish, and is still capable of making good runs. Steven Gerrard has forged a brilliant partnership with Fernando Torres of late, but way before his arrival, Gerrard seemed to have a similar understanding with little Mickey Owen.
With his contract running out, Liverpool would be able to get him on a free, and that would be outstanding business for a man who still has something to offer.
The second player is somebody who has not really played as a striker in his career, but who I think is incredibly versatile, and with a little bit of training, could be a fantastic striker.
That man is Salomon Kalou. He is incredibly quick and skilful, and while he might not finish as well as Michael Owen, he is more versatile, and can be played anywhere across the front three.
Dirk Kuyt might be an excellent defensive right-winger, but against teams that compact their defence, Kuyt is not the best option to pry open the defence. Kalou could be used in such situations, and I think he will be an excellent addition to Liverpool’s attack.
If Ancelotti does come to Chelsea, I think he will bring along with him some players, and look to clear out some of the existing players at Stamford Bridge, and so Kalou will not be too expensive, as he is not an integral part of their squad.
Andrea Dossena, Fabio Aurelio and Emiliano Insua. Three names that will hardly leave right-wingers quaking in their boots. To be fair, Aurelio has demonstrated his worth to the team at set-pieces and with his crossing ability.
Insua has also shown in his few appearances this season, that he is one for the future, as he looked very promising. Dossena—well the less said, the better. Aside from scoring goals to put the icing on the cake, he is generally useless.
So, Dossena should really be shipped on in the summer. That leaves Aurelio and Insua as the left-backs for Liverpool. I think Aurelio’s time at Anfield is also up, as he is not solid enough defensively.
With Insua still relatively inexperienced, Liverpool need someone who can step in there right now and do a solid job on the left side of their defence, and teach young Insua a thing or two.
I can think of no one better to bring solidity in that department than Gabriel Heinze. He was a Liverpool target a few years back, if you remember, but Ferguson blocked the transfer from happening, and in the end he went to Real Madrid.
Now, I do not think Ferguson blocked the transfer just because Liverpool were huge rivals. He blocked it because he knew how much that would strengthen Liverpool. Ferguson let Silvestre go to another rival team because he knew that Silvestre would not strengthen Arsenal at all.
With Florentino Perez possibly becoming president of Real Madrid again, there will be a raft of changes in the Spanish capital, and I am sure Heinze would be one of those that will be allowed to leave, as Perez, if you remember, does not really see defence as being important to a team’s success.
Heinze would be seen as a destroyer, much like Makelele when he was at Real Madrid, and will be allowed to move on.
In this department, Liverpool have Arbeloa and Degen. Carragher is also capable of playing there, but that would be moving him away from his favourite and best position at centre-back.
Arbeloa reminds me of John O’Shea, in that he plays anywhere across the back, but is not brilliant at any of the positions. As such, he should not be holding down a first-team spot.
Degen has not played much, if at all, this season, and you would imagine that he will be rather rusty when he comes back, and as such, cannot be relied on as a first-team option. Besides, having watched him play on a number of occasions, he does not look like a world-beater in any way whatsoever.
I think Liverpool need a right-back, and they should look no further than Glen Johnson. He has matured beyond recognition this season, and is one of the few bright spots in what has been a poor season for Portsmouth.
Once known as an adventurous full-back who did not have the word “defend” in his dictionary, Johnson has obviously been working hard on the training ground, and looks a much more complete full-back this season.
With Dirk Kuyt, as mentioned above, being a defensive winger, Johnson’s ability to bomb forward will be very useful, as he can go on the overlap to support the Liverpool attack, and let Kuyt drift inside to add an extra body in the box, whether it is to win a header, or just to pick up the pieces.
With Portsmouth not qualifying for Europe next season, I am sure Liverpool will be able to attract Glen Johnson to the club, and they should pull out all the stops to get him.
So that’s it.
If Liverpool strengthen in these three areas, I think they would be a much more complete team, and would look to be challenging once again.
And that, Rafa, is a FACT.