Predicting a Dream January Transfer Window Scenario for Liverpool
The first half of Liverpool’s Premier League campaign has exceeded the expectations of both the club and fans, with progress being made rapidly. However, there are still areas to improve in the January transfer window.
Brendan Rodgers’ side have almost shown Championship winning form in their opening 18 games of the season, accumulating 36 points.
The quick-thinking mathematicians reading this may conclude that Liverpool are on course to finish with around 76 points, still somewhat shy of the 80-plus needed to win the English top flight.
However, Liverpool must do what their rivals do and reinforce in the January transfer window, if they are to continue the good form they have shown so far.
Furthermore, the Reds have been caught short in the personnel department with a series of unfortunate absences.
Injuries, in particular, to Glen Johnson, Jose Enrique, Aly Cissokho and Philippe Coutinho have shown Liverpool to be somewhat thin in the backup department.
Whilst this has allowed the likes of Jon Flanagan, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling to develop, strengthening of the match day squad is essential this winter.
In searching for replacements, Rodgers must keep in mind how fit the candidates are for integration into the team spirit he has so expertly created at Liverpool.
There are three key areas of the team Rodgers could look to improve on: left-back, central midfield and up front.
Left-Back: Luke Shaw
Injury to Jose Enrique and the disappointing on-loan signing of Aly Cissokho has allowed Jon Flanagan to shine at left-back for Liverpool this season.
Only injury halted the 20-year-old from continuing his six-game starting streak for the Reds' Boxing Day trip to Manchester City.
However, there have been times that Flanagan has appeared isolated and exposed at left-back, which partially comes from having no real left-sided midfielder tracking back in support.
Ideally, what Rodgers wants is another Glen Johnson, in the prime of his career.
Whilst Johnson’s form has stumbled of late (and a good case could be made for the signing of a new right-back, too), for many years he has possessed the strength and ability to defend and attack.
Rodgers wants to replicate that on the left side of his defence—essentially a left-wing-back.
Enrique’s return from injury in February could be the solution staring Rodgers right in the face, but the Spaniard’s unpredictable, and sometimes chaotic, style of football may be a turn-off to the Northern Irishman.
Southampton’s Luke Shaw could provide the perfect remedy to the left-sided headache with his proven track record of marshalling the entire left flank at the top level.
Central Midfielder: Javier Mascherano
Only recently has Liverpool’s central midfield begun to look more astute.
The Reds appeared lacking in legs in that department when Lucas and Steven Gerrard played next to each other in the middle for the opening run of games.
Between them, they don’t have the pace to track the league’s increasingly rapid attacks and provide protection to Liverpool's back line.
When Joe Allen came in to replace the suspended Lucas in early December, a new chemistry was created between himself and Gerrard.
Allen’s high fitness levels allow him to dart around the pitch, playing off short passes and relieving the attacking duties of Gerrard.
Liverpool may still, however, be lacking in a midfielder who can make the tackles, be strong and command the midfield, as well as provide some creativity. An Ilkay Gundogan, if you will.
The Premier League, and Liverpool, needs to see the return of Javier Mascherano.
If building for the future is in mind, allowing Gerrard to continue to play consistently, it could be to time to sign Derby County’s Will Hughes.
Striker: Danny Ings
With Fabio Borini out on loan, Liverpool could do with the luxury of a striker to turn to if and when Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge aren’t available.
It would be a luxury too; it is rare to find both strikers unavailable for the Reds.
Rodgers also has summer signing Iago Aspas to call on, but the 26-year-old has struggled to find his feet, albeit due to injury, since moving to Anfield.
However, any club without all the money in the world to throw at players in the transfer market, would find it difficult to attract a top striker who would sit on the bench.
A young player to bring through to the first team in a series of cameo roles could be the perfect mould to fill the position.
Burnley and England Under-21 striker Danny Ings could be that player.