The January transfer window is now a fortnight away and, although all eyes are firmly on the festive feast of fixtures before then, it won't be long until the rumour mill is in full swing again.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has indicated his desire to sign players only capable of improving the first XI.
In an interview with the official LFC website earlier this month, Rodgers explained:
We are always trying to build for the future with a sense of the present, which is to strengthen where we can.
You can only do that if you can bring in players who will enhance the team or you just stockpile players.
It has to be one that can come in and help us. We saw last January with the two boys who came in and helped the team straight away, there was no hesitation with that.
The Northern Irishman warned that not all areas can be improved immediately, adding: "We are not going to be in a position to improve it all ways straight away."
So, seemingly Rodgers will have targets in terms of the areas in which he wishes to strengthen but acknowledges that not all those targets will be met—dependent on the complicated circumstances involving signings.
In the summer, Rodgers wanted to add attacking flair to his options, but the pursuit of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Diego Costa and Willian ultimately proved unsuccessful due to circumstances beyond his control—most notably, the players' individual desire to be involved in the Champions League.
LFC managing director Ian Ayre and chairman Tom Werner.
Much debate among Liverpool supporters revolves around the role of Rodgers within the club's "transfer committee."
Liverpool's managing director, Ian Ayre, explained to Sports Illustrated earlier this year that transfers would be decided by the committee, rather than Rodgers having full control himself.
What we believe, and we continue to follow, is you need many people involved in the process.
That doesn’t mean somebody else is picking the team for Brendan but Brendan needs to set out with his team of people which positions we want to fill and what the key targets would be for that.
According to This Is Anfield, those involved in the transfer committee are Rodgers, Ayre, head of recruitment Dave Fallows and head of performance and analysis Michael Edwards.
“We have a head of analysis, a head of recruitment, a first-team manager, myself. All of those people are all inputting into a process that delivers what a director of football would deliver," Ayre told SI.
It is those four men who seemingly place the value upon the identified targets before entering negotiations to acquire the player they desire.
After what proved to be an ultimately unsuccessful transfer window in Rodgers' first months in charge, last January was the first opportunity for him and the club's newly created transfer committee to prove their worth.
It was a huge success.
Desperately lacking attacking quality and options, Liverpool signed Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho for less than they paid for Joe Allen and Fabio Borini combined just five months earlier. Lessons were being learned.
Furthermore, it was also hugely successful for who left the club—with high-earning players Joe Cole, Nuri Sahin and Alexander Doni departing.
Cole, who was earning £92,000 per week according to The Guardian, was reportedly given a £3 million pay-off from Liverpool, but nonetheless the deal was a good one for the club. Coutinho or Cole isn't much of a puzzler.
The two new recruits fitted in seamlessly and played a huge part in Liverpool's improved performance in the second half of the season.
What was also impressive was the speed of the first business—Sturridge's arrival having been lined up before the window opened and confirmed on January 2.
Liverpool's January 2013 Transfer Window - via LFCHistory.net
|Daniel Sturridge||Chelsea||£12,000,000||2 January 2013|
|Philippe Coutinho||Inter Milan||£8,500,000||30 January 2013|
|Joe Cole||West Ham United||Free||4 January 2013|
|Nuri Sahin||Real Madrid||Returns from loan||11 January 2013|
|Alexander Doni||Botafogo||Free||31 January 2013|
Can Liverpool have an equally successful window this winter?
With Rodgers' side currently sitting very pretty in second—they could be top at Christmas should they defeat Cardiff and Arsenal fail to beat Chelsea—the transfer window could be an opportunity to cement their credentials further.
The goal this season was to achieve a top-four finish and that must remain the target at present. Should that be achieved, Liverpool will finally be able to eat at Europe's top table again—able to attract Champions League quality players for the first time in four years.
Rodgers is seemingly targeting an addition at full-back, with Chelsea's Ryan Bertrand and Barcelona's Martin Montoya both being heavily linked.
Jose Enrique's continued absence through injury, combined with Aly Cissokho's failure to impress on his loan spell, have meant Jon Flanagan has deputised, albeit admirably, at left-back, but the youngster is clearly not a long-term solution to the problematic position at Anfield.
Similarly, when Johnson was sidelined, the lack of depth on the opposite side of defence was exposed, with Kolo Toure being used at right-back before Rodgers changed to three at the back.
Steven Gerrard's absence through injury over Christmas also means that midfield options have been somewhat exposed. Another midfield of quality is likely to be a target area for Rodgers. B/R's Vincent Siu recently provided a "January transfer wish list" of options.
Javier Pastore and Will Hughes have been heavily linked—one for the present and one for the future?
Similarly, Daniel Sturridge's injury has shown the lack of depth in attack, with Luis Suarez the only player of quality and Iago Aspas seemingly failing to impress since his arrival last summer. The Mirror have linked Liverpool with Olympiakos striker Kostas Mitrogluo.
Liverpool already have 13 players out on loan and another who seems to be joining them is centre-back Tiago Ilori. "He will have six months to adapt and then he will go out and get experience," explained Rodgers earlier this month.
Iago Aspas has been linked with a loan back to La Liga, by the Daily Star, among others. If another forward can be signed early in the window, perhaps that would materialise.