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2011 Summer Transfers: Rating Potential Liverpool Signings

Lee RobertsContributor IIIMay 12, 2011

2011 Summer Transfers: Rating Potential Liverpool Signings

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    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03:  Kenny Dalglish the manager of Liverpool stands between his new signings, Andy Carroll (l) and Luis Suarez (r) during a photocall at Anfield on February 3, 2011 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    As the Premier League season draws to a close, summer transfer speculation has already started, with names from all over the footballing world being linked with all sorts of clubs.

    Of course, managers and back-room staff will already be pinpointing potential targets in order to strike first and give themselves the best chance of acquiring the best players, but by this stage it's very rare that anything is confirmed. That doesn't stop speculation from building, and people from creating rumours, from realistic or well thought-out targets, to the downright absurd.

    As always, Liverpool is one of those clubs that seem to be linked with absolutely everyone, even though the transfer window may not even be open yet. So, for my first report, I thought that it'd be a good idea to look at the most prominent of those rumours, and give my opinion on how likely they are, and how good they would be for the club. At the moment, I'd hate to say any transfers are certain, so I doubt I'll give any nines or 10's. Also, I'll try and stick to two players per position (counting full-backs and wingers as one position), otherwise I could be here all day.

    Enjoy, and feel free to give your opinions afterwards, or even add more fuel to the spreading wildfire of speculation.

Gary Cahill

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    NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 26: Gary Cahill of Bolton Wanderers in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Bolton Wanderers at St James' Park on February 26, 2011 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by
    Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

    I thought it'd make sense to start from the back and work my way forward, and for a long time now, Liverpool have been linked with this man: Bolton's Gary Cahill. 

    There are plenty of good reasons behind this. He's a decent age (25), would count as a home-grown player, has plenty of Premier League experience and could be available for a decent price, with Bolton unlikely to be able to hold him back from the lure of possible European football.

    Personally, I rate him pretty highly as a player. He's a solid centre back, decent in the air, comfortable on the ball and sensible in his play. He reminds me of Sami Hyypia in that he keeps his passes simple, and rarely gives it away, something that Liverpool seem to lack when Daniel Agger is injured. Cahill may not have the control, range of passing and vicious shot of the Dane, but his calmness would be welcomed at the back, is a recent England international, and lack of injuries so far in his career could be a big bonus. However, these rumours have been around for a few years now, without any hint of interest from within the club, which makes me think that a move may not be likely.

     

    Transfer Rating: 8/10

    Transfer Chances: 6/10 

Roger Johnson

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    MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03:  Roger Johnson of Birmingham City during a Pre-Season Friendly match between MK Dons and Birmingham City at the Stadiummk on August 3, 2010 in Milton Keynes, England.  (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)
    Phil Cole/Getty Images

    This rumour seems to have come out of the blue. Before 2009, only real football enthusiasts and Cardiff City fans had heard of this guy. After reaching the 2008 FA Cup Final, and being voted Cardiff's player of the year twice in a row, Birmingham shelled out £5 million on a defender without any Premier League experience. The gambled paid off, as that season the Partnership of Johnson and Scott Dann was regarded as one of the best in the league that year, with Birmingham setting a new club record of 12 games unbeaten that same season.

    At the age of 28, Liverpool appear to be looking at a player in his prime. He's a very strong, aggressive centre-back, who is dominant in the air at 6'3", and so far seems to be a reliable player. Also, he would again count as a home-grown English player. However, he does only have two years worth of experience in the Premier League, and after such a good first season at Birmingham, this year the club has struggled, and at this point are still not safe in the league, while on a personal level, Johnson hasn't really stood out as much as last year. With many reports that Comolli is personally scouting him at the moment, it seems like this could really happen, but I'd still say it's a bit of a risk.

     

    Transfer Rating: 6/10

    Transfer Chances: 8/10

José Enrique

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    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 15:  Newcastle defender Jose Enrique in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Birmingham City and Newcastle United at St Andrews on February 15, 2011 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Ima
    Stu Forster/Getty Images

    Now on to full-backs, and this has been one of the most prominent of the pre-summer transfer window rumours. Newcastle were reported to have beaten off Manchester City and Liverpool when they signed Enrique for about £6 million back in 2007, and after a tough start under Sam Allardyce, Enrique quickly established himself as first choice left-back, and has held the position down ever since. He was voted Newcastle's player of the year last year, and made the PFA Team of the Year for the Championship.

    At the age of 25, he's a player who should have his best years ahead of him, and does have three years of Premier League experience behind him, along with a year in the Championship. In terms of ability, he has what Comolli and Dalglish seem to be looking for, if the rumours so far are true, in that he keeps possession for the team well.  He actually has a very good range of passing, in terms of both short, snappy passes and long raking passes, and isn't afraid to get stuck in, which is always a good thing. I like him as a player, and could be really useful, especially as we've struggled for a solid left-back since Riise. He could be just what Liverpool is looking for, and judging by the amount of speculation, it's very possible that they could be.

     

    Transfer Rating: 8/10

    Transfer Chances: 8/10

Gael Clichy

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 01:  Gael Clichy of Arsenal in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium on May 1, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    Funny enough, many people considered right-back to be a priority for Liverpool before the January transfer window, but after the performances of the impressive Martin Kelly and solid John Flanagan, we seem to be just fine now. There isn't even much in the way of left-back speculation, until I saw this one, and I thought it was worth a mention. Gael Clichy was part of the "Invincibles" squad and has been Arsenal's first choice left-back for five years now, since Ashley Cole departed for Chelsea, and has been regarded as one of the best in Europe. Despite only being 25, he has almost 200 Premier League appearances for the Gunners, and about 50 European games on top of that.

    Individually, he's full of pace, and has a great knack of timing, both in terms of making forward runs, and making tackles. Possessing a decent cross, good touch and good passing, as you'd expect from a player who Wenger signed as a 17 year old, he has a very good all-around game. So, why would Arsenal want to sell him? Well, the theory is that Clichy's contract runs out in 12 months time, and that new contract talks have stalled because of the player, and Wenger would rather let him go now than for free in 12 months, because Kieron Gibbs is ready to step up. I personally doubt that Wenger would want to let him go full stop, and if the rumours are to be believed, then Barcelona, Real Madrid and a number of top clubs are on high alert. As great as it'd be, I don't think we can compete with clubs that can offer Champions League football.

     

    Transfer Rating: 10/10

    Transfer Chances: 3/10 

Charlie Adam

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    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 07: Charlie Adam of Blackpool on the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Blackpool at White Hart Lane on May 7, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
    Scott Heavey/Getty Images

    Central midfielders next, and this is another of the most speculated transfers. Like many of the players Liverpool seem to be linked with, Charlie Adam is 25, and a product of Glasgow Ranger's youth academy, and so would not count towards Liverpool's home-grown player count for Europe. He did make it to the Ranger's first team, playing 60+ league games, and even almost 20 European games, before his move to Blackpool in 2009 (after a loan spell in 2008). He impressed in his first full season, helping Blackpool to promotion and continuing that good form in his first Premier League season.

    Since his arrival at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool have centred their game around Adam, using him as a playmaker to start all of their attacks, something that the team has relied on throughout the season. With incisive passing, late runs into the penalty area, good vision and an impressive scoring rate (a goal every 3 games for Blackpool), he's proven himself to be a good player this year. But, when Liverpool have Meireles, Maxi and Gerrard who can all do this anyway, I can't help but think he'd only be a squad player, unless Dalglish plans to move Gerrard back alongside Lucas.

     

    Transfer Rating: 6/10

    Transfer Chances: 7/10 

Yann M'Vila

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 17:  Steven Gerrard of England is beaten to the ball by Yann M'Vila of France during the international friendly match between England and France at Wembley Stadium on November 17, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/
    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    This is a player who seems to have been linked with everybody. Yann M'Vila currently plays for Rennes in the French Ligue 1, and has been reportedly attracting interest from all over due to his performances this year, and is being touted as a future star. Considering that he's only 20, and had eight full international caps under his belt, I wouldn't be surprised.

    From what I've seen of this lad, I'd say he's everything that Liverpool need right now in the middle of the park. Since Houllier first took charge of Anfield, Liverpool have always looked more solid as a team with a more defensive-minded midfielder in the starting eleven. That role has been filled by Dietmar Hamann, Steven Gerrard, Momo Sissoko and Javier Mascherano. Lucas has blossomed over the last few years, but doesn't have the presence defensively that the previous names bring, and while Jay Spearing has become an integral part of the team lately, and knows how to put a tackle in, I don't think he has the physique to dominate the midfield in the same way (I know Mascherano wasn't the biggest either, but he's much quicker and more aggressive). M'vila, on the other hand, is 6'0", and physically powerful, without sacrificing pace or touch. 

    He is what Liverpool has been screaming out for since the loss of Mascherano. I don't think it's a coincidence that results have improved under Dalglish, while at the same time Spearing has played in almost every game. Having a defensive midfielder has balanced the side out, and having a truly impressive one there may be a good next step. Whether we can hold off the deluge of clubs after him is another matter.

     

    Transfer Rating: 9/10

    Transfer Chances: 5/10 

Joey Barton

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    STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - MARCH 19:  Joey Barton argues with referee Lee Mason during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Newcastle United at Britannia Stadium on March 19, 2011 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty
    Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

    I just couldn't resist here. Apparently Liverpool are looking at Joey Barton. Yes, he's a scouser, he's English, and he doesn't take $*** from anybody, which as I stated in the last slide, is what I think we could do with in the side. Not only that, when he's on his game, he's actually pretty good. 

    However, he's a boyhood Everton fan, which I'm sure might play on the players mind, although on the other hand, he was on Liverpool's books at one point as a youngster. More importantly though, he's been convicted on charges of violence twice, once for a training ground incident where he assaulted and almost blinded his teammate, and served a prison sentence during his playing career. Add in a number of fines and charges brought about by the FA, the sending off at Anfield in 2009 for an awful tackle on Xabi Alonso, and his half-brother given a life sentence after being involved in a "racially motivated murder" in Liverpool back in 2005, and I'd hazard a guess that he wouldn't be exactly welcomed with open arms on Merseyside.

    Honestly, as a player he's pretty good, and would add a certain steel to the team. But as a potential disruption to the team and feel-good atmosphere currently at the club, and while stranger things have happened, I think I'll pass.

     

    Transfer Chances: 3/10

    Transfer Rating: 3/10

Ashley Young

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 29:  Ashley Young of England in action during the international friendly match between England and Ghana at Wembley Stadium on March 29, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    Wingers next, and if the reports are to be believed, this is another player who's been on Liverpool's radar for some time now. With an emphasis on English players becoming more of a necessity, and Liverpool lacking quality wide players for some time, it's no surprise to see Liverpool linked with both Young and Stewart Downing. I think Young's by far the better player, so that's why I've chosen him to focus on.

    At the age of (surprise, surprise) 25, Ashley Young has over 150 Premier League games under his belt for both Watford and Aston Villa, making him one of the more experienced players on this list. Ever since his first season in the top flight, he's garnered praise for stand-out performances, becoming the first player to win three Player of the Month awards in a single season in 2009, and 14 England appearances to show for it.

    I like Young as a player. He's very comfortable on the ball, and possesses a lot of pace, something Liverpool doesn't seem to have too much of, especially in midfield. The most important thing is the versatility and attacking threat he offers, especially since Dalglish seems to have two formations in mind: the 4-5-1 currently in use, with no real need for wingers, as Meireles, Maxi and Kuyt have shown impressively in the last three games, and the second being the 4-4-2 that could be used once Carroll is back, if Dalglish wants to keep Suarez on the front-line. Young can easily fit into both of these formations, and could be a really big boost to the Liverpool squad, no matter what formation we play. This might be wishful thinking, but the rumours haven't died down much over the years, and it could still happen.

     

    Transfer Rating: 9/10

    Transfer Chances: 7/10 

Iker Muniain

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    BILBAO, SPAIN - JANUARY 05:  Iker Muniain of Athletic Bilbao controls the ball during the round of last 16 Copa del Rey second leg match between Athletic Bilbao and FC Barcelona at Estadio de San Mames on January 5, 2011 in Bilbao, Spain. The match ended
    Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

    Now, I haven't heard much about this until very recently, but I've been raving about this kid for about a year-and-a-half now, telling anyone who would listen to watch out for him and how Liverpool really should go for him before anyone else does. Now, he's regarded as one of the greatest prospects in Europe, after a scintillating season in La Liga, and reports are stating that Liverpool scouts have been watching for several months. 

    For those of you who've never heard of him, Muniain is currently at Athletic Bilbao, holding a number of records. He's the youngest player to play for the club, and exactly one week later, he became the youngest goal-scorer for the club, before setting the La Liga youngest goal-scorer record not long afterwards. He has currently played 56 league games for Bilbao, which is remarkable considering he's still only 18, and even has nine European games on his side, generally playing as either a winger or a forward. He's been spotted at national level, playing three years above his age having been capped twice for the Under 21's.

    As you've probably guessed, I really rate this lad. At 5'6", he's not the tallest, but he's got a lot of pace, and is very tricky on the ball, without being flashy: similar to Messi in that he takes on players without using step-overs, tons of flicks, etc (I'm in no way comparing him to Messi, that'd be a huge exaggeration obviously, it's just a similar style of taking on players). His goal scoring record isn't setting the world alight, (9 from 56 league games) but a lot of Bilbao's play involves him, and a certain Fernando Torres only scored seven in his first 40 playing as an out-and-out striker. Muniain can play in more than one position, which is very useful, and considering our back-up striker is David N'gog, buying Young and this kid could kill two birds with one stone. As I said, I haven't heard much on this, and in all honesty it could be wishful thinking on my part, but if there really are scouts there, I hope he's played as well as I've seen.

     

    Transfer Rating: 8/10 (he's young, so it's always a risk)

    Transfer Chances: 6/10 

Romelu Lukaku

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    Finally, we come to the strikers. So far I've not heard much about Liverpool looking to sign any strikers, which is strange since Dalglish seems to not rate N'Gog, and rightly so in my opinion. I don't think he brings anything to the table: he's got pace, but not enough to trouble defenders, he's not strong enough, his touch isn't up to scratch, his passing isn't either and he doesn't win any headers. So, surely Liverpool should be looking at strikers for if the worst happens and both Suarez and Carroll get injured?

    Anyway, this is the only striker rumour I've heard, and honestly, I'm not just raiding Football Manager to find the last two, although I'll admit that's where I first heard of them. But while I've seen plenty of Muniain playing, since Spanish football is so readily available on Sky, I've never seen this guy play, so everything I'm about to tell you is facts I know of him through research, and what other people have said.

    Lukaku is currently at Anderlecht, where he made his début just 11 days after his 16th birthday, the day on which he immediately signed his first professional contract.He's played 66 times for Anderlecht, scoring an impressive 31 goals, and also has nine caps for Belgium, and two Goals. That is seriously impressive when you consider that he's 18 on the 13th of May. At 6'3" and 97 kilos, he sounds like he is a very imposing figure, and has good pace to match. He was also named to the UEFA team of this year in December.

    Based on this, I can see why he's attracting attention from all over Europe. Apparently Chelsea are the main team in for him, so instant thoughts of Didier Drogba may not be too far off, with Ancelotti needing a replacement sooner rather than later. If Liverpool are in the running, then his credentials certainly point to having a lot of potential, and after my views on David N'Gog, I wouldn't mind seeing Liverpool have a go for this kid. Apart from that, I can't say much else.

     

    Transfer Rating: 8/10

    Transfer Chances: 5/10 

Conclusion

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    14 MAY 1995:  BLACKBURN ROVERS MANAGER KENNY DALGLISH CELEBRATES WITH THE TROPHY AFTER BLACKBURN ROVERS WIN THE FA CARLING PREMIERSHIP TROPHY DESPITE LOSING 1-2 TO LIVERPOOL IN THEIR FA PREMIERSHIP MATCH AT ANFIELD, LIVERPOOL TODAY. Mandatory Credit: Alls
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    So that's it. Obviously I couldn't run through every rumour out there, but I hope that I've shown at least what I think of those particular rumours. The most important opinion though, is that of Damien Comolli, the man behind all of Liverpool's dealings, so I guess we have to trust him and the rest of the Liverpool staff to bring in the best for the club. As Dalglish put it: It doesn't matter what we spend, it's how we spend it. Either way, I know we would all give a lot to see Dalglish lift that trophy again (but with Red and White ribbons, obviously) and this summer's dealings are the first step towards hopefully achieving this.

    I hope you've enjoyed reading this, and the whole point of this article is to try and get people talking. So feel free to leave a comment, whether you agree or disagree with those rumours mentioned, or even to put any other rumours you've heard or players that you want to see signed.

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