The 3 Players Liverpool Should Sell This Summer
There is no doubt that Liverpool have exceeded the expectations of most during the 2013/14 season and currently sit top of the Barclays Premier League with just two games to play.
Brendan Rodgers has worked wonders with the players at his disposal, but at times the Reds have appeared to lack any real strength in depth, highlighted by the options—or lack of—available to the manager during the recent 2-0 defeat to Chelsea.
With Liverpool having secured a return to the Champions League for the 2014/15 season, it is inevitable that Rodgers will dip into the transfer market in an attempt to add depth and quality to a squad looking unhealthily thin.
With a significant number of players expected to arrive on Merseyside during the summer transfer window, there will be a select few players who for various reasons will be moved on.
Rodgers throughout the course of the season has resisted the modern-day temptation to chop and change the starting lineup from game to game, instead selecting a starting 11 from a group of 14 or 15 players.
With the Northern Irishman showing preference for select personnel, the likes of Martin Kelly, Iago Aspas, Victor Moses and Luis Alberto have all been used sparingly during the Reds' rise to the league's summit.
This article will select three players Liverpool should look to offload during the summer transfer window and highlight the reasons why they should be moved on.
They will be selected on performance, contribution and, in certain cases, transfers that would be good for the individual's career.
Read on to find out the top three players who—in this writer's opinion—should not be at Anfield come August.
No. 3: Martin Kelly
There is nothing Liverpool fans love more than a local lad cementing their place in the first team; however, for Martin Kelly, it looks like it quite simply isn't "meant to be."
The defender's inclusion may come as a shock to many, but he has been plagued by injuries since making his Reds debut in late 2008, amassing only 62 appearances (via Liverpoolfc.tv) in the five-and-a-half years that have followed.
Kelly enjoyed an extended run in the side during the ill-fated second reign of Kenny Dalglish, featuring 39 times (via ESPN) under the Scot who would use Kelly in a variety of defensive positions but predominantly at right-back.
The defender's fine form for Liverpool and ability to play anywhere across the back four was rewarded with a call-up to the England squad for Euro 2012 as a replacement for Chelsea's Gary Cahill, although Kelly did not feature during the tournament.
A season-ending injury picked up against Manchester United during the opening weeks of the 2012/13 season curtailed the obvious progress that was being made by the versatile defender. Kelly has featured only nine times since picking up the injury (via ESPN).
Big things were expected from this writer upon the defender's return from injury, but even when the likes of Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger, Mamadou Sakho and Jose Enrique were ruled out through injury, Rodgers opted against including Kelly in the starting lineup.
When the Reds have been threadbare in defence, young full-back Jon Flanagan has been preferred at both right-back and left-back, casting further doubt on Kelly's long-term career at Anfield.
It should be noted that Kelly has barely put a foot wrong when selected, turning in a number of solid performances—the highlight being scoring the second goal in a 2-0 Carling Cup victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
The reason for the defender's inclusion in this list is that, as things stand, Kelly finds himself behind all of Johnson, Agger, Sakho, Enrique and Flanagan, as well as Martin Skrtel, Kolo Toure, Aly Cissokho and the returning Andre Wisdom in the pecking order.
It may well be the time that Kelly—for the sake of his career—moves on when the transfer window reopens. If his injury record improves, he can certainly be an asset to someone; it just looks unlikely to be Liverpool.
No. 2: Sebastian Coates
Sebastian Coates joined Liverpool for a fee reported by James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo to be in the region of £7m during Kenny Dalglish's infamous summer spending spree of 2011.
The defender arrived at Anfield on the back of being named Best Young Player of the tournament as Uruguay wrapped up the 2011 Copa America.
Coates would feature just 12 times in all competitions during his debut season at Anfield, a season for which he will best be remembered for a quite stunning goal scored during a defeat at Queens Park Rangers.
Coates' best performance in a Reds shirt came arguably during the first home game of the 2012/13 season, a 2-2 draw with reigning champions Manchester City which Liverpool should really have won.
The Uruguayan, however, would fail to build on that performance as the season progressed, featuring only a further 11 times throughout the course of the campaign as it became apparent the English game might not suit the South American's style.
Coates' credentials as a Premier League player were thrown into doubt in early 2013 as the Reds were knocked out of the FA Cup in the fourth round by League One side Oldham Athletic.
Oldham striker Matt Smith caused Coates all sorts of problems as Rodgers' side were humbled.
An injury picked up while playing for Uruguay last August ruled Coates out for the majority of this season, a season, however, which arguably would have seen the defender well down the pecking order at Anfield.
The defender's days at Anfield could well be numbered. If reports by Mirror Football that the Reds are tracking Southampton defender Dejan Lovren are true, then Rodgers would have a raft of centre-backs at his disposal, with Coates being most likely to be shown the door.
The Copa America winner has shown nothing during his time at Anfield to justify the aforementioned £7m fee paid to Nacional by Dalglish and a summer exit looks likely.
No. 1: Iago Aspas
Iago Aspas joined Liverpool during the 2013 summer transfer window for a fee reported by BBC of around £7m after almost single-handedly saving former club Celta Vigo from relegation.
The forward found the net 12 times in La Liga during the 2012/13 season (via ESPN) but has failed to notch a single league goal for the Reds during his opening season at Anfield, his only goal coming in a 2-0 FA Cup win over Oldham.
Despite starting the Reds' opening three league fixtures—all of which were 1-0 victories—Aspas has since struggled to cement a place in Brendan Rodgers' starting lineup, playing second fiddle to Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling.
During his time at Anfield, the Spaniard has appeared lightweight, been sluggish in possession and looked drained of any confidence whatsoever.
Aspas has been used sparingly since the turn of the year, completing 90 minutes on only one occasion—in the aforementioned victory over Oldham.
The man wearing the squad number worn by predecessors Ian Rush, Robbie Fowler and Fernando Torres has shown nothing whatsoever that he can be the next man in line to make the No. 9 famous.
The forward is more likely to be placed in the same bracket as former number 9s El Hadji Diouf and Andy Carroll rather than Rush, Fowler and Torres.
Sky Sports have linked the Reds with a move for Lyon front man Alexandre Lacazette, and coupled with the return of in-form Fabio Borini from Sunderland, that could spell the end of Aspas' short stay in England.
Samuel Stevens of the Independent claims that Valencia were interested in taking the former Celta Vigo man on loan in January and could firm up their interest during the summer.
With Liverpool looking to compete both domestically and in Europe next season, they can ill-afford to carry any passengers and, in this writer's opinion, Aspas is exactly that.
A move back to Spain seems most likely.
Do you agree that Liverpool should look to offload the three players selected or are there others who should be shown the door? As always, leave your comments below.