5 Potential Transfer Targets to Solve Liverpool's Defensive Frailties
With a shake of his head towards assistant Colin Pascoe, Brendan Rodgers held back his fury as he watched his defence inexplicably concede three goals in nine minutes to throw away a three-goal lead at Crystal Palace on Monday night.
Tired, sloppy and careless defending let in Tony Pulis' side for a share of the points when the game was way beyond their reach.
Rodgers told Sky Sports after the game:
As you can imagine, it's very quiet. For 75 minutes it was an outstanding performance, we got the goals. The important thing was to win the game tonight and to at least put some sort of pressure on Manchester City, but very disappointed that we conceded the three goals.
It was very poor defending that cost us. They showed great spirit to come back. The comfort that we had in the game and the quality we showed to get 3-0 up, you've got to manage the game better than that.
It's not like the warnings signs weren't there, either. Liverpool's defence has conceded 49 goals in the Premier League this season.
More often than not, they have been fortunate enough for the attack to bail them out, but Monday, the luck ran out.
Liverpool spent £18 million acquiring the services of Mamadou Sakho from Paris Saint-Germain last August—he's going nowhere.
But Martin Skrtel, Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger all turn 30 this summer, and Brendan Rodgers may well see it as an opportunity to give his defence a facelift.
Jon Flanagan has been one of the many success stories for Liverpool during 2013/14 and will remain an important part of Rodgers' plans for developing a squad capable of challenging on two fronts—the Premier League and the Champions League.
Aly Cissokho rarely showed glimpses of why Liverpool took him on loan from Valencia for the season and may struggle for football on his return to Spain this summer.
Andre Wisdom will be hoping he impressed enough during this loan spell at Derby County whilst the long-term effects of Jose Enrique's knee injury, which kept him out for almost all of 2013/14, are still unknown.
With question marks looming over the future of several veteran defenders, Rodgers may look to the transfer market to sign younger replacements on cheaper wages.
Here are five defensive targets the Reds have already been linked to ahead of what will inevitably be a busy transfer market.
Luke Shaw (Southampton)
After catching the attention of several top clubs with his outstanding performances for Southampton this season, Luke Shaw would be a top-class solution at left-back for Liverpool.
He was last linked with the Reds in April when The Guardian's Jamie Jackson claimed he would make a decision on his future shortly.
Although just 18 years old, Shaw has 56 Premier League appearances under his belt, gaining valuable experience with the Saints. He will be itching to play on the bigger stage.
Steven Caulker (Cardiff)
Although Steven Caulker has suffered relegation with Cardiff City this season, much has been made of the problems on and off the pitch, which have caused the Bluebirds' fate.
The 22-year-old provides a strong, physical presence as well as leadership qualities that could shape up Liverpool's cracking defence.
Following Cardiff's relegation, Caulker could be available at a cut price, though he could be the subject of a bidding war.
Ben Jefferson of the Daily Mail claims Caulker has a clause in his contract to allow him to leave in the scenario of relegation, with Liverpool and Tottenham reportedly set to make bids.
Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund)
A dream signing perhaps, but why not? Liverpool are back in the Champions League and are capable of attracting the cream of European talent.
Hummels, 25, has been an inspiration for Borussia Dortmund for years and will play a major part in Germany's success at this summer's World Cup.
Prising him away from Dortmund, though, could prove difficult, with the tall centre-back under contract at the Westfalenstadion until 2017.
Micah Richards (Manchester City)
Liverpool fans are getting quite used to the club being linked with a move for Manchester City right-back Micah Richards.
Left in the shadows at the Etihad Stadium for the last two seasons, Richards must be getting frustrated at the lack of first-team opportunities at City, and the Reds could come knocking.
Metro reported this week that Rodgers is set to launch a £7 million bid for Richards this summer.
Kyriakos Papadopoulos (Schalke)
Schalke's Kyriakos Papadopoulos was heavily linked with a move to Liverpool last summer, as per Sachin Nakrani of The Guardian, before the Reds opted to sign Sakho.
Schalke drove a hard bargain for the Greek international, and no doubt his name will be mentioned again in the Liverpool transfer rumour mill this summer.
But Papdopoulos continues to struggle with fitness and injury problems, making just 14 Bundesliga appearances in the last two seasons.