Former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has revealed his plan to replace Luis Suarez was to sign both Rickie Lambert and Alexis Sanchez in the summer of 2014, but ended up with Mario Balotelli instead of the latter.
Rodgers was speaking on Sky Sports' Goals on Sunday about his time with the Reds, which ended in October when he was sacked after a disappointing beginning to the Premier League season.
During his time on the show he touched on several transfer-related issues, including his attempts to sign Dele Alli and his feelings about Raheem Sterling.
But it was Rodgers' plans to replace Suarez that made for the most intriguing listening, with the manager admitting things didn’t quite go as expected, per Callum Davis of the Daily Telegraph:
The huge blow for us that season was that we thought we were getting Alexis Sanchez. We were going to then bring in Rickie Lambert alongside him, but it ended up that we didn't get Sanchez, we just got Rickie.
All of a sudden our only striker is Rickie Lambert. At 32 years of age going into the Champions League season that wasn't ideal.
Rodgers also spoke about the capture of Balotelli in greater detail, and the club's maligned transfer committee.
The Italy international was hailed as a bargain by some when he signed for the club in a £16 million deal in the summer of 2014, but he went on to score just one Premier League goal in his debut term. Balotelli is now out on loan at AC Milan.
Rodgers revealed bringing in players was never entirely down to him, and the committee believed he could mould him into a better footballer, per Sky Sports' Goals on Sunday programme:
It was a group decision, it was certainly not a decision I would have the sole or final say on. It’s difficult because you want a player in and there’s a list of players, but if the player you want isn’t on that list, you have to take someone. You can’t have no players. You have to take somebody. …
Balotelli was an example of the committee. Mario's got a wonderful talent. He's fast, got the touch. The committee and the owners thought I could develop the player.
The Northern Irishman also revealed the club came very close to signing Dele Alli from MK Dons, before the youngster agreed to sign for Tottenham Hotspur.
The midfielder has been a breath of fresh air in the Premier League this season and has helped Tottenham surge into the top four of the Premier League. As reported by Lyall Thomas of Sky Sports, Rodgers thought the Reds were very close to getting the teenager on board, revealing that Alli was keen on the move himself too:
We'd had contact with Dele, it was all above board, I was speaking with Karl Robinson and I spoke to Dele and his adoptive parents. Karl did really well with him and he came to me and said 'I've got a really exciting player, I'd love to see him at Liverpool'.
I spent a couple of hours in a hotel room with him and he wanted to come to Liverpool. It was all about getting the deal done with the club but unfortunately it never got done. On Saturday evening we thought it had got done but eventually he went to Tottenham, which was frustrating and disappointing. He's done really well there.
One of the most high-profile incidents of Rodgers’ tenure was the sale of Sterling to Manchester City.
Prior to the big-money deal going through the player took part in an interview, unauthorised by the football club, outlining the reasons why he had rejected a contract from Liverpool, per BBC Sport.
Rodgers felt as though Sterling’s agent played a key role in him eventually departing, per Kristian Walsh of the Liverpool Echo:
It was a shame. He was close to signing and it did not happen. I was surprised [at the suggestion there was a breakdown in communication]. We were still in contact with messages and when I left Liverpool one of the first messages was from Raheem.
There were reasons he wasn’t signing and at the end, it transpired [to Aidy Ward] I became another one... but I had a a good relationship with Raheem.
I take great pride in bringing him into the team. He can play wing, no.10 and he was such a good footballer I could even play him right wing when chasing the game and moving to three at the back. People thought it was playing him out of position but he was brilliant there.
Rodgers seemed to have bright plans for the club, and if the likes of Sanchez and Alli had come in, perhaps he would still be in a job.
However, the team he’d assembled throughout his tenure had slipped into a lull at the start of the 2015-16 season, and by the time he was given the chop, few Liverpool supporters disagreed with the decision made.
There were some wonderful moments for Rodgers during his tenure, most notably the thrilling football played by his team in the 2013-14 season.
You suspect that while he was derided in the latter stages of his tenure with the club, plenty of Premier League sides will be seeking him out should they find themselves without a manager.