3 Players Liverpool Should Look at as Alternatives to Yevhen Konoplyanka
Despite Liverpool looking shaky in defence throughout the 2013/14 season, Brendan Rodgers clearly feels his side lack quality in the wide areas.
FC Dinipro winger Yevhen Konoplyanka was widely tipped to make the move to Merseyside during the closing stages of the January transfer window, however the move failed to materialise.
BBC report that despite Konoplyanka being keen to move, Dinipro's owner failed to sign the paperwork that would have sealed the reported £15m transfer.
Jack De Menezes of the Independent reports that Andry Rusol—the Ukrainian side's executive director—is "a thousand percent sure" that the Reds will return with a fresh offer in the summer.
Despite Rusol's claim, Simon Jones and Dominic King of the Daily Mail have revealed that Tottenham Hotspur—as they so frequently do—are ready to act on Liverpool's misfortune and hope to take the player to White Hart Lane.
Whether Rodgers is keen on another bidding war following last summer's Willian transfer saga obviously remains to be seen.
With this in mind and given the track record of fellow Ukrainians who have previously crossed the waters to ply their trade in the English Premier League, Rodgers may decide to look elsewhere.
Konoplyanka is arguably the current 'golden boy' of Ukrainian football, but so was Andriy Shevchenko, and he failed miserably.
There are a number of wingers the Reds have been linked with previously, some who make the list and some who do not.
The likes of Cristian Tello, Isaac Cuenca & Thomas Ince are names that have been branded about on a regular basis without anything ever materialising.
This article will look at three wingers who Rodgers and Liverpool could look to bring in during the summer as alternatives to Konoplyanka.
They will be ranked from third to first, with the latter—in the opinion of this writer—being the most suitable choice.
Just Missed the Cut: Isaac Cuenca & Ibrahim Afellay
As always, there are those that just fail to make the definitive list.
On this occasion, Isaac Cuenca and Ibrahim Afellay (pictured) are the unfortunate duo.
As reported by talkSport and Charles Perrin of the Express respectively, both Cuenca and Afellay have been linked with moves to Anfield in the past however the Reds failed to conclude a deal for either.
Cuenca, who previously had a spell in Holland on loan at Ajax has endured terrible luck with injuries throughout his short career but despite resuming full training in October, has failed to make an appearance for Barcelona this season.
No doubt a talented individual, on this occasion a poor fitness record means no place in the final three.
Afellay himself is in a similar situation to that of teammate Cuenca, in that he too has struggled to force his way into the Barcelona side.
The Dutchman returned from a loan spell at German side Schalke during the summer but has failed to convince Barca boss Tata Martino that he merits a place in the squad.
Despite being blessed with pace and trickery, failing to reach his potential since leaving PSV Eindhoven three years ago means Afellay too misses out.
No. 3: Thomas Ince
Thomas Ince only joined Crystal Palace on the final day of the January transfer window but his next move is already a hot topic.
The winger seized the opportunity to play regular football and went from strength to strength during his two-and-a-half seasons at Bloomfield Road.
With his Blackpool contract due to expire in the summer, Ince will see out that deal while on loan at Selhurst Park with the aim of establishing himself as a Premier League player.
The gifted wide man was linked with a host of top flight clubs during the transfer window yet opted for a move to Crystal Palace on a temporary agreement.
Tony Pulis' ever-improving Palace side have provided the perfect opportunity to do just that and other clubs will without doubt be keeping track of the youngster's progress between now and May.
Ince would add pace, trickery and vision to Rodgers' side as well as an instinctive eye for goal.
The winger is also a threat from set pieces.
Alex Richards of the Mirror reports that Liverpool were interested in Ince last month but that both he and father Paul feel that the youngster isn't quite ready to make the move just yet.
If the England under-21 international is a success at Selhurst Park, this could well change during the coming months.
The fact that Ince is available on a free transfer may improve the chances of a move as the Reds may be reluctant to pay a big fee for a player they sold for next to nothing just two-and-a-half years ago.
No. 2: Cristian Tello
Tello is a player who is blessed with lighting speed and a man who has all the attributes to strike fear into opposition defenders.
Comfortable on either the left or right, the 22-year-old has been in and around the Barcelona squad for the last two-and-a-half years without ever really making a place in the side his own.
The Spaniard has regularly been linked with a move away from the Camp Nou with James Gheerbrant of the Independent reporting that Liverpool have been previous suitors of the tricky wide man.
With the likes of Lionel Messi, Alexis Sanchez, Neymar and Pedro for competition, Tello may well look to seek pastures new in the summer transfer window.
A player in the mould of current Reds winger Raheem Sterling, Tello would—like Sterling—provide the Reds with blistering place on either flank, and the two would perhaps complement each other well if given the opportunity.
With Rodgers seemingly determined to implement the Barcelona "tiki-taka"-style football at Anfield, Tello may find that the "Liverpool way" is the also the way that suits him best.
He would also bring with him Champions League experience, having featured fairly regularly for Barca in the competition, as well as big-match experience, having featured in El Clasico on numerous occasions.
While he would undoubtedly need to work on both strength and conditioning to meet the physical demands of the English Premier League, there is no doubting that Tello is blessed with natural ability.
The youngster beats Ince into second place as he would bring with him the aforementioned big-game experience and knows just what is required when representing one of the country's biggest clubs.
If available, Tello would be a solid acquisition to Rodgers' side.
No. 1: Arda Turan
Without doubt the most experienced of the three players listed and, despite his pace, trickery and ability, is the main reason for coming in pole position.
Often controversial, Turan however would bring with him a wealth of top-flight experience as well as Champions League experience to a team who hope to be in the competition next season.
The winger would give the Reds a different dimension in attack and is comfortable on either wing—something that looks to appeal to Rodgers given the wingers currently on Liverpool's books.
Like both Ince and Tello, Turan would add pace and trickery to Rodgers' side, but with it would come strength and power in abundance.
Despite having a tendency to look for a foul, there is no doubt that Turan is a powerful player whose strength and build may help a player moving from Spanish football settle quickly.
Charles Perrin of the Express reports that Liverpool have in fact shown an interest in the Turk previously but nothing ever materialised.
Securing Champions League football for the 2014/15 season is a must if the Reds are to have any chance of bringing Turan to Anfield.
While sealing a deal would be somewhat of a coup, Rodgers' free-flowing football and a fresh challenge in a new country may well appeal to the Atletico man.
Only time will tell.
As ever, leave your comments below on whether the three players selected would be a success at Anfield or on who you would like to see Rodgers bring in.
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