While Liverpool stand just four games from a historic Premier League title, much has been said about the quality of their defence throughout the campaign.
In Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool have the highest-scoring strike partnership in the league, but the club’s concerns come at the other end of the pitch. As the Premier League table shows, Liverpool have shipped 42 goals this season—the highest total conceded in the league’s top five.
With Brendan Rodgers’ side destined to mix it with Europe’s elite in the Champions League next season, the Liverpool boss will look to be adding to his squad at the end of the campaign to bolster their chances of European success.
Below, we take a look at the latest big transfer stories circling the Anfield giants:
To enjoy sustained success, Rodgers will know he must improve his back line, with Borussia Dortmund’s Marcel Schmelzer reportedly top of his list of targets.
According to Jamie Sanderson of the Metro, Liverpool are ready to launch a bid for the German left-back, who would cost the club “upwards of £10 million”—but it would be money well spent.
Per LFCHistory.net, only Glen Johnson and Martin Skrtel have completed more than 20 of their 34 leagues matches so far this season, with Rodgers struggling to find consistency due to numerous troubles with injuries.
Schmelzer would be an ideal candidate to make the left-back position his own at Anfield. He’s a forward-thinking defender with heaps of crossing ability both on the move and in a dead-ball situation. More importantly, he knows how to conduct himself when on the back foot.
Midway through the season, Schmelzer boasted a 70 per cent tackle-success rate, as Squawka Football revealed:
Happy 26th birthday to Dortmund's Marcel Schmelzer. His tackle success from left-back this season is 70%. pic.twitter.com/MbE354fykj— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 22, 2014
His 2013-14 season has been plagued by injury, but in his 17 Bundesliga appearances, he’s been instrumental in keeping six clean sheets—per WhoScored.com.
While adding to the defence is a must for Rodgers, he must ensure he doesn’t lose any players from his remarkable front line at the same time—especially not Premier League top scorer Suarez.
However, as Jack De Menezes writes for The Guardian, the benefits on cashing in on the £60 million-rated Suarez would be monumental for the club:
Not only would £60m from selling Suarez allow serious reinvestment in another striker or two, but Liverpool would also benefit hugely from Champions League revenue as well as the Premier League broadcasting rights deal that came into effect this season. This would give Rodgers a serious transfer budget to further strengthen a team that has come on leaps and bounds this term.
The Uruguayan striker has scored 29 goals this season and has been virtually unplayable every time he’s donned the famous red shirt. Surely selling him would be the biggest mistake the club has ever made.
Should Liverpool "cash in" on Luis Suarez?
With the money he’d bring in, Liverpool could address their defensive problems with some big-money signings, but it doesn’t seem worth it.
Suarez himself recently expressed his happiness at being with the club during an interview with FourFourTwo, and even said that he'd remain a Liverpool player with or without Champions League football next season—reported via The Guardian:
I signed my new contract because I'm very happy here and I want to stay where I'm enjoying football and life. Playing in the Champions League isn't dependent on that. This is my best season yet. I feel in a very good place, physically and mentally. Every day, I feel better in this club. I hope to continue down this path because we want Champions League football for Liverpool and, personally speaking, I want to continue that mentality throughout the World Cup with Uruguay.
You’d be hard pressed to find a Reds fan that would agree with selling Suarez, but it would certainly aid the club’s long-term finances.
If Liverpool can find a way to win the Premier League, it will be due to their offensive exploits, rather than being an impenetrable force like Chelsea. If they want to repeat such success, they need to build from the back and starting with Schmelzer would be a good way to go about it.