Why Liverpool Must Focus Summer Transfer Efforts Away from Strikers

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistApril 24, 2014

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Liverpool will be looking to improve the squad considerably come the summer transfer window after securing their participation in next season's Champions League, but bringing in a top-class striker shouldn't be top of their agenda.

While not too many teams would be comfortable with turning down Sergio Aguero or the likes if they suddenly demanded a move to Liverpool, the likelihood is that with two high-value centre-forwards already at the club, any new signing would be a third choice behind Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge yet would still require a large financial outlay if they had any reasonable amount of talent and goalscoring ability.

With so many other areas of the squad requiring attention this summer, particularly the defensive third of the pitch, the Reds have to consider other ways of renewing and bolstering their attack without signing a striker.

There is every possibility that Iago Aspas will be sold on after a less-than-successful debut season at Anfield, but the expected return of Fabio Borini will offset that loss in the centre-forward area.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 19:  Fabio Borini of Sunderland in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on April 19, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
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However, he's not the only other current player who can provide support centrally to Suarez and Sturridge. Raheem Sterling has already played at centre-forward for the first team and has shown considerable aptitude to playing in an attacking role behind the strikers of late. He would have no issue playing as a striker again in the future.

Philippe Coutinho is another who could play as a second forward, as well as in a true No. 10 role, though his Liverpool future is almost surely as a deeper, creative outlet in central midfield.

More importantly, Brendan Rodgers has shown himself to be a coach who can change not only his team selections and lineups to best suit the match in question, but also as a coach who can utilise his players' attributes to fit into positions they might otherwise not have featured in.

Rodgers has recently operated with a diamond midfield, pairing Sturridge and Suarez centrally in attack, but the 4-3-3 system he has used often will also be seen with regularity next season. A third striker in that scenario sees limited game-time, with one of the usual duo certain to always take the middle rolepending availability, of course.

Another versatile attacker capable of playing from the flanks or in the central attacking midfield role—like Sterling—would be by far the wiser course of action for Liverpool to take.

NORWICH, ENGLAND - APRIL 20:  Raheem Sterling of Liverpool celebrates scoring the opening goal with Manager Brendan Rodgers of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Liverpool at Carrow Road on April 20, 2014 in Norwic
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Versatility is almost on par with technique and "football arrogance," as Rodgers terms it, in importance for incoming players to add to the squad.

Even if incoming targets need to bring quality and goals for the attacking half of the field, Rodgers will expect them to work hard, be tactically aware of their roles within the team and fill into position defensively when the opposition have the ball. Much of that also indicates a wider or withdrawn forward would be the preference rather than an out-and-out striker.

Above all else, quality should dictate Liverpool's summer activity.

If the chance to improve the team is presented, perhaps even at high cost, the club will want to take it. But considering both a larger squad and increased quality in several areas will be required to handle four competitions next season, a new striker should not be top of Rodgers' list of requirements.