Liverpool FC: Predicting How the Reds Might Lineup Next Season
Liverpool are back.
After a troublesome few months, The Reds have finally turned the tide and begun the long journey to reestablish themselves as one of the 'Big Four'.
Roy Hodgson, George Gillet, Tom Hicks and Fernando Torres are gone and a new era is here - with a stable ownership setup with money to throw around, a dedicated management team and a playing group that take pride in wearing the jersey.
No longer are Liverpool relegation contenders, they're now title contenders.
With all this in mind, Kenny Dalglish has some choices to make, as he attempts to pick his starting XI for next season.
Here's who I can see making the Liverpool lineup next season:
GK: Pepe Reina
Despite intense rumors of a move this summer, I've put my money on Pepe Reina staying at Anfield for at least another season.
Reina is said to be highly rated amongst the Liverpool staff, and is seen as a crucial part of the leadership team on the Merseyside. But naturally, the Spaniard has been linked to a number of clubs during Liverpool's hardships this season. The most notable of those is of course arch rivals, Manchester United.
"It’s not about being patient, it is about the club winning and I want to be competitive," said Reina, according to The Mirror.
"All I can do is train hard and do my best, but who knows what is going to happen here?"
And with a Liverpool revival on the cards, results are very likely improve and hopefully Reina will stay.
RWB: Martin Kelly
Young local boy, Martin Kelly has managed to fit his way in to Kenny Dalglish's plans with a consistent array of solid performances under the Scot.
20-year-old Kelly, who has been struck by a hamstring tear in recent times, shows a level of understanding of the game above his age and is touted by some as the next Jamie Carragher. But the starlet possesses more than your ordinary full-back, with a fantastic attacking component of his game. For this very reason, I have employed him as a wing-back.
For this position, I considered John Flanagan and Glen Johnson as well, but steered away from Johnson because of his inconsistency and unreliability and Flanagan because of his young age and inexperience at first team level. But may I say, with Kelly and Flanagan, this position looks firm for many years ahead without signings.
CB: Daniel Agger
The first of the two centre backs I have chosen is Danish international, Daniel Agger.
Agger arrived on the Merseyside during the January transfer window of 2006, after completing a £6 million move from Danish Superliga club Brøndby IF but has struggled to fit in to the Liverpool XI because of the constant injury cloud hanging over him.
But despite this, Agger remains one of the best options to partner Jamie Carragher in defence. And if he can stay fit, I think you will definitely see him featuring more regularly.
Are signings needed in this position? Yes probbably, but there are other gaps in the Starting XI that need filling a lot more than this one does. If Agger, Skrtel or Kyrgiakos don't fit the bill come January, it might be time to look elsewhere.
CB: Jamie Carragher
For the last decade, Jamie Carragher has been a pivotal figure in Liverpool's success, with a never-say-die attitude and a heart of gold.
I have nothing but admiration for the man, and there are no doubts in my mind over whether he should be included in this list.
It is true that Carra is aging, but we should hope to keep hold of this gem for as long as we can.
LWB: Fabio Coentrao
So here's where everything gets interesting - it's time for transfer talk.
Fabio Coentrao was a star performer for Portugal at last year's FIFA World Cup in South Africa, especially when attacking down the wing. And very quickly, premier clubs around Europe were in contact with the player's agent, trying to strike deals. Those clubs included Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Manchester United, Real Madrid and of late, Liverpool. Those close to the 23-year-old say that Madrid and the Reds are front runners but Bayern Munich is also considered as a possible destination for him next season.
"I love Liverpool," Coentrao is re-quoted as saying on Live4Liverpool.
But he also admitted that it would be hard to turn down an opportunity to play at Madrid.
"Who would not want to be coached by Mourinho?"
Despite this, I can definitely see Kenny Dalglish and NESV pulling out all stops to sign the Portuguese international to great success.
RM: Dirk Kuyt
Dirk Kuyt is criticized time and time again for his lack of pace, trickery and flair, undeservedly.
The Dutchman may not be the most technically-gifted player but if you're ever in need of a goal to change the momentum of a game, you can rely on him. And for that reason, I've included him here in my preferred starting XI, doing otherwise would be disrespectful to the fact that he has poured his heart and soul in to every single performance in the Liverpool shirt.
CAM: Steven Gerrard
Calling Steven Gerrard 'Captain Fantastic' is a common thing to do on the Merseyside, but if you ask me, it's a major understatement.
Gerrard is so much more than a captain to Liverpool - he's the inspiration, the creative influence and the passionate one who has a tear in his eye every time he pulls on a Red shirt. Stevie may be close to retirement, but it will take a long time to take him out of the hearts of Liverpool fans.
In this lineup, I'd like for Gerrard to take up an advanced centre-midfield position to control the pace of the game and supply Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez with quality passes and options.
CAM: Raul Meireles
A recent arrival at Anfield, Raul Meireles has been able to contribute to the Red's revival with a number of fine performances especially under Kenny Dalglish. The finest moment of those performances notably being his goal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge after the much-talked about Torres transfer.
In a hard season for Liverpool, the Portuguese international has done well and will be looking forward to starting fresh next season as he attempts to forge a powerful partnership with Steven Gerrard in the middle of the pitch.
In this formation, I would encourage Meireles to get forward as often as possible, so long as he's not leaving a gaping hole in the middle of the park - so for safety it would be a good idea for him to play a slightly more defensive role than Stevie G.
LM: Eden Hazard
Another new face I'd love to see on the Merseyside is talented young Belgian winger, Eden Hazard.
Hazard is high on the shortlists of the top clubs around the world having shown his potential in impressive performances for Ligue 1 side, Lille. And with the Reds lacking in natural width, Hazard is said to be a massive target for the summer transfer window as they attempt to reestablish themselves as one of the 'Big Four'.
But Liverpool face tough competition to win Hazard's heart and lure him to Anfield with Real Madrid and Chelsea knocking on the door.
Expect it to be a major transfer story this window.
LF: Andy Carroll
He's only played 347 minutes in a Liverpool shirt, but already Andy Carroll has etched his name and smile in to the memories of every fan. And in these early days, I can already tell you with confidence that Carroll will be a Liverpool legend in years to come.
I'm already thoroughly enjoying his determined performances and can't wait to see alot more of them in the future.
RF: Luis Suarez
How much better can this lad get?
Luis Suarez has been nothing short of a miracle so far with his splendid performances under Kenny Dalglish.
The Uruguayan shows breathtaking touch and a lightning quick change of direction that has bothered every defense the Reds have come up against during his stay.
With more supply next season, expect Suarez to get even better.