6 January Transfer Moves Brendan Rodgers Must Consider for Liverpool
It's the middle of December and the frenetic festive fixtures are almost upon us—which can mean only one thing, the January transfer window isn't far away.
As children up and down the country compile their Christmas wish lists, football managers are drawing up their own version of "Dear Santa" letters in the form of requests to their respective chairmen.
Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool's mysterious transfer committee, will have identified the areas that the manager wishes to improve within his squad, drawn up a list of potential signings and may even have some deals already in place.
Last January proved the most successful transfer window for Liverpool in some time, with the arrivals of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho.
Sturridge's arrival was confirmed just two days into the window.
With the injuries of Sturridge and Steven Gerrard, plus Jose Enrique, could we see another deal done early at Liverpool?
Here's six possible transfer moves that Rodgers could consider.
Sign a Left-Back
With Jose Enrique sidelined until mid-February and Aly Cissokho far from impressive, Rodgers has turned to youngster Jon Flanagan to deputise at left-back.
The 20-year-old local lad has been impressive, earning praise from Steven Gerrard and rightly keeping his place in the side since the Merseyside derby.
Flanagan though is not a left-back and for Liverpool to progress they need a dependable, left-footed player to occupy the perennial problem area at the club.
Barcelona full-back Martin Montoya could also solve the problem, linked in The Liverpool Echo, among others.
Montoya is more naturally a right-back too, although he has played left-back for the Catalan giants. He could arrive, move Glen Johnson to left-back—where he impressed under Kenny Dalglish previously—and sign a natural left-back in the summer instead.
Sign a Centre Midfielder
This is an area which has been much debated among Liverpool fans this season, with many recognising that it was a key area that should have been improved last summer.
Alas, it wasn't and Rodgers had, up until recently, insisted upon the double-pivot of Lucas Leiva alongside Steven Gerrard. Their lack of mobility—Gerrard's due to his age—was heavily exposed in the defeat at Arsenal.
With Gerrard now 33 years old, it's time Rodgers looked for his replacement. A dynamic, strong but creative midfielder would be ideal.
Blaise Matuidi, whose contract at PSG expires next summer, would be a potential suitor; combative and strong in the tackle, but also quite the playmaker and creative. B/R's Ernesto Malave wrote about the Frenchman last summer.
Hughes though is just 18 years old and would surely be another one for the future rather than an immediate impact signing.
Sign a Forward
Liverpool fans should currently be praying that Luis Suarez doesn't pick up an injury before Daniel Sturridge returns—because the back-up options are almost non-existent.
Iago Aspas is the only other natural centre-forward but has had a torrid time since arriving from Celta Vigo in the summer.
I have a lot of sympathy for Aspas. When he was signed, like a lot of supporters I expected him to be a replacement for Stewart Downing in the right-sided forward position, coming in from that side onto his left-foot, as he often did in La Liga.
That and as a back-up centre-forward, his natural role and where he looked sharp during pre-season.
Rodgers though played him a central, withdrawn role behind the forward in the opening fixtures—where he struggled with the physicality of the Premier League.
Since his return from injury, he's been on the bench for the last three fixtures, only coming on in stoppage time against Norwich where he didn't get a touch.
Rodgers won't even use him when the team are three or four goals ahead, providing an ideal opportunity to get his first competitive goal for the club.
Should Suarez be sidelined, Aspas would have a lot of pressure on him and Rodgers has hardly given him the confidence so far.
Sell a Centre Back
Centre-back is an area of the team which requires consistency, but so far this season Rodgers has failed to provide such stability.
The boss has constantly shuffled his defence, switching from two centre-backs to three at the back, and never settling on a partnership.
The last three games have seen three different centre-back pairings.
Since the opening three games, that saw three consecutive cleansheets, Liverpool have just one cleansheet, against Fulham.
Liverpool are overstocked with centre-backs; Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel, Mamadou Sakho, Kolo Toure, Tiago Ilori, Andre Wisdom (on loan to Derby County), Martin Kelly and Sebastian Coates (sidelined until March).
Could Rodgers, perhaps somewhat controversially, decide now is the time to cash in on Agger—who turns 29 this month—safe in the knowledge that he already has his replacement in Sakho.
Selling Agger might be a divisive decision in a similar manner to that of Pepe Reina in the summer, but if Barcelona remain interested in the Dane and the money is used to improve the team elsewhere it could be another masterstroke.
Loan Tiago Ilori
Signed from Sporting Lisbon in the summer, Tiago Ilori is clearly one for the future.
Seemingly, a loan move is nailed on for the 20-year-old, with Rodgers explaining to The Liverpool Echo recently:
“He [Ilori] has come in, he will have six months to adapt and then he will go out and get experience” the boss said.
“Signing Ilori was about looking after the future of the club. Centre-halves are very hard to get.”
No More Loans
There are some youngsters, such as Martin Kelly, Jordon Ibe and perhaps even Joao Carlos-Teixeira, who could benefit from a loan move.
However, Liverpool already have an incredible 13 players out on loan—of which some, it could be argued, would be better off having remained at Anfield.
Fabio Borini would be the principal one, capable of playing on the left side of attack or as a back-up forward.
With the FA Cup third round in early January, Rodgers should use that to give these fringe players an opportunity and remain focussed on the Premier League and the crucial top four finish.
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