Liverpool FC : This Summer's MUST Buys for John Henry's NESV and Liverpool FC
In recent weeks, the depth of the Liverpool squad has come under the spotlight and to be quite honest, it has come up short.
Even owner, John Henry, in recent days expressed his shock at the lack of quality of the squad he took over at Anfield. Pundits jumped all over this, pointing the finger of blame on ex-manager Rafa Benitez.
Truth be told, even the most ardent of Rafa's fans would have to agree that the squad did lack depth and quality in areas. However, that is not to say that those gaps would not have been addressed by Benitez had he continued as the manager.
With the current season coming to an end, it is not only the fans casting their eyes and minds forward to the next campaign but also the players. Jamie Carragher has revealed that the players have pretty much consigned this season to the history books and are looking forward to the summer.
That is not to say that all hope of a final assault on fifth spot is over, far from it with Kenny Dalglish as manager. All at Anfield will be fighting till it is mathematically impossible.
However, it is obvious that the squad needs some quality additions, not good squad players but top drawer first teamers. Much has been written about who are the likely players to come to Anfield in the summer and more has been written about those that fans would like to have come in.
But there will be the usual merry-go-round of names and stars linked with the club, close to signing or even have signed pre-contract agreements.
All these rumours make great reading and keep fans chatting on the Internet and in the pubs, but all speculation aside, there are some clear positions where the squad needs strengthening and within these positions, there are some names that John Henry needs to give the go ahead to signing.
The following is not in any order of importance, just simply looking from the defence forward.
It might appear that the position of central defender may not be on the top of the requirements for squad strengthening, but closer inspection may prove otherwise.
Currently this season, the Reds have had Jamie Carragher, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Sotirios Kyrgiakos and Danny Wilson all fighting for the two starting spots.
For many seasons now, Carragher has had one of those starting spots for himself and rightfully so. He has been one of the best central defenders the club has had in Premier League history.
But at the age of 33, it would not be too far from the truth to say, that we may have seen the best of the Kop hero, and his days of holding on to one of those starting spots may be numbered.
Martin Skrtel has been steady, if never spectacular, throughout his days at Anfield although this may not have been his best season, but that could also be said for a far few of his teammates.
Kyrgiakos has put in solid performances when called upon and has not let the team down, even chipped in with a goal or two. But the big Greek does not represent the future for the Reds.
Daniel Agger is the central defender that could well make the berth soon to be vacated by Carragher, his own. However, the classy Dane has had a career disturbed by persistent injuries. It is not a certainty that Agger can last a season without being out for sustained periods.
Danny Wilson is a talent and could well develop into a star performer for the Reds. Next season has to be his breakthrough season though. If he is not able to convince the coaching staff that he can hold down a regular place in the first team, then it may be time for him to move on.
What Liverpool need is a proven, solid and dependable central defender; add to that the requirement of being young. Not wet behind the ears, but at least a few seasons of solid Premiership performances.
There are plenty of names to choose from, but top of the wish list should be England International Gary Cahill.
Cahill is currently impressing many with his solid displays for Bolton Wanderers and recently looked very accomplished in an England shirt against Ghana.
The 1.88 m, 25-year-old has impressed Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger too, and Liverpool may have a fight on their hands for his services. It was also reported that Chelsea would have made a bid had their attempts at signing David Luis failed.
Above all others for centre back, Gary Cahill, should be Liverpool primary target.
It is the worst kept secret in Premier League football that Liverpool are in the hunt for a new left back.
The left side has been a problem for the Reds since the untimely departure of John Arne Riise.
The deficiency at left back was identified at the start of this season and then manager Roy Hodgson saw the solution as being Paul Konchesky. Unforetunately, this has not been the answer at all.
With the emergence of Martin Kelly at right back, Glen Johnson has filled in on the left, but this is also not a long term solution. Liverpool have two quality right backs, but precious few left backs.
Fabio Aurelio has played there in seasons past and also this, but once again the Brazilian is very injury prone and will not last the rigours of a full Premiership season.
With some talented youngsters pushing for first team recognition, having seen the strides Kelly has made in such a short time, there are some useful backups. But an accomplished left-sided defender is at the top of John Henry's spending list.
Amongst all the names being discussed, Liverpool should opt for Newcastle United's Jose Enrique.
In 2007, when Newcastle signed the young Spaniard from Villareal for around £6 million, they fought off competition from the Reds.
Now Enrique is an experienced 25-year-old left back, having played over 100 games for his Northeastern club. With eye-catching performances in the famous black and white strips, the Spanish left back has forged a reputation as a tough tackling gutsy defender with a good touch and great passing ability off his trusty left boot.
Rumours of pre-contracts having already been signed and strong indications that Enrique will be swapping the black and white strips for the Red of Liverpool, are everywhere.
Liverpool are in dire need of a quality left back, and clubs and agents are fully aware of this fact and so a deal will certainly not be cheap. In fact, the £17 million Rafa Benitez paid for Johnson may have to be repeated.
Regardless of price, Henry needs again to dig deep and bring the much needed and classy Spaniard to Anfield.
Central Midfield, Playmaker.
Since Xabi Alonso was sold to Real Madrid, Liverpool have never been the same team. The composure, passing ability and technique that Alonso possessed is a rarity, and the Reds are a lesser team without it.
Above all, Alonso was the platform for Liverpool's attacking play; everything went through the boots of the stylish Spaniard.
Liverpool's current group of central midfield can be described as hard working, industrious, solid and boring.
Those that have played there are Steven Gerrard, Lucas, Raul Meireles, Christian Poulsen, Jonjo Shelvey and Jay Spearing.
Gerrard has not had his best season and has been hit with several injuries. Lucas has really stepped up to the plate, with Spearing shows signs of maturing. Meireles is also proving to be a strong running box to box player.
But there is no guile, spark, creativity or invention there. The Reds in central midfield are predictable and steady. It has been tough for them to break teams down, to cut them apart with creative play from the central midfield.
This void was again obvious and Liverpool did attempt to bring in this much needed spark in the form of Blackpool's Scottish captain Charlie Adam. It seemed a done deal, Adam himself wishing for the dream move.
But it was never pushed over the finish line and seemed to get lost in the final few days of the January transfer window's crazy, high profile comings and goings.
But in the summer, Liverpool should do their utmost to bring Adam to Anfield. He will turn a plodding midfield into a sparkling one.
Not blessed with any real pace to speak about, but neither was Alonso. It is Adam's passing, vision and control of the football that the Reds are after. It would not be far from the truth to suggest that there are few better passers of a football in the Premier League than the Scot and even fewer with his vision.
A great striker of the ball from set pieces, Adam could compliment Luis Suarez as Liverpool's dead ball specialist. Along with giving some competition to Gerrard and Dirk Kuyt in the penalty taking hierarchy, Adam would provide the launching pad for Liverpool's attacking play.
The Reds need to push through a deal that is all but done; all that is required is Adam's signature and a cheque to Blackpool.
The other glaringly obvious absence from this Liverpool squad is that of a quality winger. The Reds have been crying out for a player with some trickery, quick feet, the ability to beat his man and cross a decent ball.
With the arrival of Andy Carroll, the requirement of such a player is desperately important. The Reds have one of the best headers of a football as their No. 9 but no real supply line from which this exception ability can be benefited.
Dirk Kuyt has patrolled the right flank for a few seasons but is not a winger, Maxi Rodriguez does not have the ability to beat an egg and Joe Cole has yet to come to the Anfield party.
Luis Suarez has shown sublime skill when playing out wide and could be an option, but his real threat is as a foil for Carroll.
The answer to Liverpool's wide play is as obvious as its need—Ashley Young.
The Aston Villa winger has it all: pace, trickery and a great cross. He reminds many of the young Welsh wizard Ryan Giggs in his prime.
Young has the ability to play on either flank, where he can either cut in and unleash a lethal shot or skip past his man on the outside and whip in a quality ball.
Young also has great technique when it comes to set pieces and the Reds could well be spoilt for choice in that department next season.
Liverpool have never been able to replace the silky runs and sublimes skill of John Barnes on the left wing. However, in Young they have a player that could see a return of great wing play to the Reds' arsenal.
The 25-year-old Englishman is the ideal answer to Liverpool's lack of width and of all the options open to the Reds, the one that they should opt for.
Liverpool owner John Henry has already shown that he is prepared to put his hand in his deep pockets and pay top dollar for quality additions to the squad.
NESV have also been very clear on their transfer policy. They look for young talent, with proven quality, that can be developed to reach its full potential under their guidance.
All the above players fit the NESV bill.
With the acquisition over the summer of Gary Cahill, Jose Enrique, Charlie Adam and Ashley Young, Liverpool will once again be a formidable force and surely be challengers to that illusive Premier League title that Anfield craves so badly.
A first team of Pepe Reina, Martin Kelly, Jamie Carragher, Gary Cahill, Jose Enrique, Ashley Young, Steven Gerrard, Charlie Adam, Raul Meireles, Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll reads like a dream to Liverpool fans and a nightmare to all others.
Much will depend on Damien Camolli and his team, and on his shoulders rests the future of Liverpool Football Club. He has been given the blueprints of what NESV are looking for, and now it is up to him to deliver.
If Camolli is able to bring in Cahill, Enrique, Adam and Young, he should be commended. For with these players and many of the quality ones already in the squad, Liverpool will once again be challenging for the top honors in the English game.