Liverpool's Loan Stars Mean Transfer Window Isn't Only Way to Strengthen Squad

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistFebruary 19, 2014

Sunderland's Fabio Borini celebrates his goal which is then ruled offside during their English Premier League soccer match against Southampton at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland, England, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
Scott Heppell/Associated Press

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has performed minor miracles with the squad at his disposal this season to have the Reds challenging hard for a top-four finish and beyond.

But the make-up of the squad will still require reinforcements in the summer.

Whether because previous signings have not panned out as hoped or simply by the natural course of form, some squad members do not presently offer Rodgers, and Liverpool, the depth required to challenge in multiple competitions.

The summer transfer window will, of course, offer the Reds a chance to rectify these issues, but they also have a number of players who could be recalled from loan spells at other clubs to boost numbers next term.


The Senior Squad Members

Not too many multiple trophy winners can be found on the "not needed" list, but that's where Pepe Reina ended up last summer as Rodgers opted to bring in Simon Mignolet as Liverpool's new first-choice goalkeeper.

Martin Meissner/Associated Press

Reina has spent the campaign at Napoli under former boss Rafa Benitez, but he is unlikely to have any future at Liverpool. Reina will be sold in summer if there is a buyer, allowing the Reds to generate more funds to allocate elsewhere.

Similarly, it is unlikely that winger Oussama Assaidi will be brought back, despite proving he can compete in the Premier League with Stoke City this term. The Moroccan remains somewhat inconsistent and, despite having great pace and the ability to beat players, is not even really comparable with 19-year-old Raheem Sterling, who far surpasses him tactically and with regards to his potential ceiling.

Striker Fabio Borini, on the other hand, has both age and improvement on his side.

The 22-year-old Italian has scored five times for relegation strugglers Sunderland, and although he is far from being considered as having had as big an impact on the league as current Reds striker Daniel Sturridge, he certainly has plenty about his game to offer Liverpool an alternative option.

He is not a certain starter, but Liverpool will need an additional striker next season to offer cover to Luis Suarez and Sturridge. Iago Aspas isn't providing it; Borini might just do so.


Defensive Pretenders

The Reds have a plethora of almost senior squad defenders out on loan at present, several of whom could return next season to battle for a place in Rodgers' team. None of them are the finished article, but regular football this season will have helped hone their skills and two in particular have something to offer the Reds' first team.

DERBY, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07: Andre Wisdom of Derby holds off the challenge of Tyler Blackett of Blackpool during the Sky Bet Championship match between Derby County and Blackpool at iPro Stadium on December 07, 2013 in Derby, England. (Photo by Ben Hoski
Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Andre Wisdom has been on loan at Derby County, mainly playing right-back and earning good reviews. In truth, he could do with getting game time centrally if the Reds look to play him there in future, but if Derby achieve promotion, he might well find himself handily placed to feature in the Premier League at the same club on a similar temporary deal next term.

Tiago Ilori is quickly winning over fans after an impressive start to life on loan at Granada, but the real focus should be on how long he can keep up his good form.

Liverpool will almost certainly be looking for a right-sided centre-back for next season, be it first choice or back-up to Martin Skrtel, and Ilori has as much of a chance as any other youngster of being that name.

Both Ilori and Wisdom will hope to feature for Liverpool next season, but game time is paramount in their development at this stage. It could be that one stays, one leaves on loan again, depending on other summer recruits.


Four to Follow

Conor Coady, Jack Robinson, Ryan McLaughlin and Suso are the remaining quartet currently spending time away from Anfield.

Coady, at Sheffield United, has not perhaps shown enough to step up immediately from League One action to the Premier League, so a further loan spell might follow for the defensive midfielder.

VALENCIA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 30:  Suso of Almeria in action during the La Liga match between Valencia CF and UD Almeria at Estadio Mestalla on October 30, 2013 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Robinson and McLaughlin, left- and right-backs respectively, will be required for preseason in all likelihood, given Liverpool's paucity of options in those areas, though it is difficult to see Liverpool not strengthening these particular areas in summer.

As such, both might be out of the picture for now, though Northern Irish defender McLaughlin in particular should have a future.

Finally, Spanish playmaker Suso has a great future ahead of him...once Liverpool decide on his best role.

Often operating from the right of Almeria's attack in La Liga, Suso could well be seen as an alternative to Philippe Coutinho in the current set-up, playing in a creative central midfield role.

For that to happen, the Spaniard will have to up his consistency, his defensive work rate and, of course, his ability to read the game and take advantage of quick transitions, as his Brazilian team-mate does.

Suso has plenty of technical ability to play the role and indeed performs similarly for the Spanish youth teams he has featured in. He could well be an excellent option to add to the squad for next season if the Reds secure European football.

Three returning players from a group of nine doesn't sound a particularly convincing argument that the loan system is reaping huge benefits for the Reds, but adding one very capable player in defence, midfield and attack could easily make the bench, and Rodgers' ability to rotate or make in-game changes, far stronger for Liverpool.

Add to that the potential income from those returning who will be sold on and Liverpool's ability to prepare a better squad for next season already looks impressive, even without signing anybody new.



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