Liverpool have been extremely busy in the first weeks of the transfer window, with almost all their major business revolving around players in the final third of the pitch.
The latest developments surrounding incoming and outgoing players continue that theme, with Italian striker Fabio Borini set to leave for Sunderland in a £14 million deal, per BBC Sport, while Loic Remy seems to be the main replacement target, according to ESPN FC.
While the numbers stack up—both financially and in terms of Premier League output—is Remy the forward the Reds need, along with fellow signing Rickie Lambert, to replace the triple departures of Borini, Iago Aspas—headed on loan to Sevilla—and Luis Suarez?
The Numbers Game
Remy and Lambert hit 14 and 13 goals respectively during the 2013-14 Premier League season, and six (in half a season) and 15 in 2012-13.
All told, it's 48 in the past two Premier League campaigns, compared to the eight that Fabio Borini managed over the same time and 12 for Aspas—all in his final season at Celta.
It's a significant step up in terms of reliability in front of goal, but the considerations have to be that neither Lambert nor Remy is going to play week in, week out at Liverpool as they have done at their previous clubs.
Sky Italia say Liverpool are set to close a deal for Loïc Remy imminently. £8m fee and £60k p/w wages. Arsenal walked away when quoted £80k.— Nikolas Postinger (@nikpostinger) July 19, 2014
Meanwhile, there is the small consideration of Suarez's 31 goals from last season to consider. In all likelihood, there can be no direct replacement for Suarez, and the hope has to be that Remy and Lambert, between them, can contribute enough in the final third to keep the chances and goals flowing for others, while also pushing Daniel Sturridge on to an even better campaign than he managed in 2013-14.
Whether or not an additional striker is required depends in large part on Brendan Rodgers' other transfer and tactical plans for the season.
4-3-3 and Diamonds
The decision over another centre-forward being required depends on whether Rodgers intends to regularly play his diamond midfield again—with two forwards—or to use that as an option during certain points of the season.
At present, the makeup of the squad leans far more to 4-3-3 than a two-up-top approach, with neither Remy nor Lambert realistically being good enough to sustain a top-three finish along with Champions League football and domestic cup action.
Lazar Markovic, Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling offer starting competition for the wide forward berths at present, with a host of other rumours, squad players and potential youngsters competing alongside them—always with Daniel Sturridge central to the attack.
However, a genuinely top-class talent signing in the attacking midfield line could change everything for the Reds.
Should the Reds land someone of that calibre, who can play wide in a 4-3-3 but also central—either as a No. 10 or a second forward—in the diamond system, then having Remy and Lambert as options to partner or replace Sturridge immediately becomes far more palatable, simply because of the quality, creativity and invention behind them.
Lallana, Markovic, Lambert and Emre Can, Liverpool's four signings, have so far cost around £60 million.
It could comfortably be argued that those signings are the "budgeted" deals for the summer, given the prize money won last season by the club (around £98 million) and the forthcoming Champions League campaign.
In turn, that would mean that funds generated by sales this summer could largely be reinvested in the squad with further new captures.
In that regard it's not only the £75 million for Luis Suarez which can be taken into account but also the £14m for Borini, an expected £7m for Oussama Assaidi, plus further potential income—and saved wages—for Pepe Reina, Seb Coates, at least one centre-back and quite possibly a first-team full-back.
Stoke are set to sign Liverpool winger Oussama Assaidi in a deal worth £7million. [Telegraph]— LFC Fans Corner (@LFCFansCorner) July 16, 2014
All told, there is still plenty of work likely to be done at Melwood and Anfield between now and the end of August.
Defensive reinforcements are a must, of course, but the current focus is all about the attack.
A top-range attacking midfielder at this time would be the tipping point to transform the Reds' good, if not outstanding, offensive signings into part of a squad which could once more attack and outscore teams at will.
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