Grading Liverpool's Summer Signings So Far
It was a busy summer for Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool with a whole host of new faces arriving at Anfield determined to bring back the glory days.
In total, nine new recruits were added to a squad that ended the 2012/13 season in impressive form.
As always, there were those that were moved on. Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing were sold to West Ham United, Jonjo Shelvey joined Swansea and long-serving goalkeeper Pepe Reina linked up with Rafa Benitez at Napoli.
With the Barclays Premier League table now starting to take shape, this article will analyse and assess the Reds' summer signings and grade them based on their performance and contribution so far.
Just how well have the likes of Simon Mignolet and Iago Aspas settled on Merseyside? Read on to find out!
Aly Cissokho, Luis Alberto & Tiago Ilori
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These three summer signings are exempt from grading due to the fact that they have amassed only 6 appearances between them in all competitions.
Cissokho was signed on loan from Valencia to provide competition to first-choice left-back Jose Enrique but has featured only twice for the Reds so far (via ESPN).
His first appearance was as a substitute in the 1-0 win at Aston Villa, while his first start for the club—the Capital One Cup win over Notts County—lasted only 10 minutes after being forced to leave the field through injury.
Described as a signing for the future by The Mirror's David Maddock, Luis Alberto has impressed when turning out for the Reds' under-21 side, and despite starting in the Cup against Notts County, all three Premier League appearances have been from the bench.
The former Barcelona youngster has looked comfortable in possession during his brief Liverpool career and looked solid when asked to come on and protect his side's lead during their victory over Manchester United.
Tiago Ilori is a centre-back blessed with blistering pace but unfortunately joined the Reds at a time when they appear to be spoilt for choice in that position.
Signed from Sporting Lisbon, the Portuguese youngster is yet to make an appearance for Rodgers' side, and a January loan move to Valencia has been mooted as a potential option by Vanessa Keller of IBTimes.
It would be unfair to grade these particular Reds players as they have only been used sparingly so far.
Expect Cissokho to return and challenge Enrique for a place in the side, and remember the names Luis Alberto and Tiago Ilori. Both are likely to play a big part in Liverpool's future.
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Forward Iago Aspas was brought to the club from Celta Vigo for a fee reported by the BBC to be in the region of £7 million.
Despite impressing during preseason and performing fairly well during the opening day victory over Stoke City, Aspas has struggled as of yet to adapt to the rigours of English football.
The Spaniard, who has started four of the Reds opening seven league fixtures, has so far looked lightweight and been careless in possession.
Brought in by Brendan Rodgers to add flair to Liverpool's attack and be a goal threat, Aspas has failed to find the net in the opening two months of the season, and in all fairness has not come close to breaking his duck.
James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo claims that Aspas has been put on a special weight-training programme to help him come to terms with the physical demands of life as a Premier League player.
Despite a return of zero goals, there have been times when he has looked fairly impressive.
The former Celta Vigo man has shown glimpses of skill and trickery during his brief Reds career, but to be classed as an Anfield success, a better end-product is needed.
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Mamadou Sakho was Liverpool's most expensive signing of the summer for a fee reported by the BBC to be in the region of £18 million.
Signed from Paris Saint-Germain, Sakho made his debut in his side's 2-2 draw with Swansea in mid-September, thrust into a Reds side that had previously won three of three in the league without conceding a goal.
The big Frenchman endured a shaky night at the Liberty Stadium but had shown Brendan Rodgers enough in training to warrant his place in the starting 11.
The draw in South Wales was followed up by the Reds' first league defeat of the season at home to a Southampton side, themselves flying high at the top end of the league table.
Despite a disappointing opening to his Anfield career, Sakho appears to have now settled into the Reds defence, while the team as a whole look to have come to terms with Rodgers' new 3-5-2 system.
Sakho has an aura about him that could see him go down as somewhat of a cult hero on Merseyside.
If reports by Jamie Sanderson of the Metro that he broke a piece of gym equipment during a routine strength test are to be believed, then the Reds fans could have quite a character on their hands.
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Brought in to give the Reds some much needed width, Victor Moses has settled well into life on Merseyside and has been fairly impressive on the pitch.
Deployed from both the left and right, the Nigerian has displayed pace, power and an eye for goal that saw him score his first Liverpool goal on his debut away at Swansea earlier in the season.
Despite missing a glorious opportunity to bring the Reds level during the Capital One Cup defeat at the hands of Manchester United, Moses has shown the kind of form that earned him a move to Chelsea in 2012.
He has linked up well with both Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez and has displayed an ability to get himself into some threatening positions in the opponents' half.
If by contributing goals on a regular basis he can ease the burden on Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, then he could well turn out to be Brendan Rodgers' shrewdest bit of business of the summer.
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With Manchester City at the moment struggling to keep a clean sheet, many may wonder why Kolo Toure was allowed to depart Eastlands during the summer.
The no-nonsense defender looks like he's been a Liverpool player for years, adding even more experience to an already experienced defence.
Toure, snapped up on a free transfer from City, has looked well at home during the opening months of the 2013/14 season.
Doing justice to the No. 4 shirt once worn by Reds legend Sami Hyypia, the big Ivorian has been arguably Liverpool's most consistent defender so far.
After an impressive start to his Reds career, things didn't look quite so promising when he was stretchered off with a thigh injury during the Capital One Cup tie against Notts County.
Despite fears of a long layoff, it wasn't long before the former Arsenal man was back in Brendan Rodgers' starting lineup—albeit at right-back.
A shaky performance in the unfamiliar position during his side's defeat to Southampton led to Rodgers switching to a back three, of which Toure has been a crucial part.
Proving to be a popular figure amongst Reds fans, there is something of a Gary McAllister story about Toure, a proven Premier League player joining on a free during the latter stages of his career.
If he has half the impact that McAllister had back in the 2000/01 season, then Rodgers can look back on his signing as a job well done.
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Simon Mignolet has been nothing short of sensational since his summer move from Sunderland.
Voted the Black Cats' Player of the Year in his final season on Weirside, the Belgian stopper was unable to say no when the Reds came calling.
A fee of £9 million, as reported by Louise Taylor of the Guardian, was enough to persuade the Sunderland hierarchy to part with Mignolet, and Liverpool look to have got a real bargain.
A penalty save in the dying stages of his debut against Stoke City immediately endeared him to the Anfield faithful, and he hasn't looked back since.
Three clean sheets coupled with three victories in his opening three league games for the Reds meant that Mignolet's start to his career on Merseyside was perfect.
Arguably the only player to come out of his side's defeat to Southampton with any credit—a game in which he made the most outrageous triple save—the 25-year-old has been impressive in each and every game of his short Reds career.
Replacing a goalkeeper of Pepe Reina's standard is no easy task, but Mignolet has taken to the role with apparent ease.
Reina's contribution to the Reds cause will never be forgotten, but in Mignolet, Liverpool have a goalkeeper who is hungry and eager to impress and one that has aspirations of representing Belgium at the 2014 World Cup.
Based on early performances, the Reds have on their hands a goalkeeper whose shot-stopping is second to none and who has all the attributes to go down as a true Liverpool great.
Fans are bound to disagree with some of the grades featured in this list, but hey, that's what football is all about. Opinions!
Leave yours in the comment section below.