Liverpool Squad 2011/12...a Fan's Wish-List: Mata, Hazard & Coentrao
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With one game left in the season, Liverpool fans are now looking forward to a summer of renewed optimism thanks to Kenny Dalglish et al. We'll have an exciting summer of transfer activity to look forward to; one in which the club no longer has to worry about debt servicing first, and players second.
The squad list below is also predicated on a few things, namely:
- - We're going for Quality over quantity, and keeping a tight squad total of 28 (i.e. two and a half teams), with my mix between Over 21's and Under 21's being 17/11.
- - We'll have about US$100M (£65M) gross to spend; at least a third of which will come from sales. This may sound high, but for the first time in years, we're not in debt, so FSG should flex LFC's financial muscle (as we flexed Chelsea's financial muscle in Jan.).
- - Realistically, we can't get as many established "superstars" as we'd like, because we don't have Champions League to offer, and secondly, FSG won't be like Man. City with a half-dozen $100K per week players regularly on the bench.
- - Kenny Dalglish has shown us that some of our fringe and Under 21 players are good enough to comprise our main back-up, so a few high-priced additions are what's needed, not a dozen new players who won't give us the continuity we'll also need.
- - We'll be looking primarily at technically skilled and pacey players, as we have a dearth of those.
- - In our recent good run under Kenny, we've played a variant of the 4-2-3-1 Rafa used in 08/09, but with much more fluidity and interchanging between the front-4. I expect this will guide the squad's make-up for next season.
- GK 1) Reina (28) 3) Gulacsi (21)
- 2) FRIEDEL (40) (Free)
Notable omissions: Jones (Sell), Hansen (Loan). We need an experienced backup, so while Friedel is accustomed being #1, maybe at 40, with perhaps a guarantee for all the Cup games, he'll be interested.
- D 1) Carragher (C/R) (33) 7) Kelly (R/C) (21)
- 2) Skrtel (C) (26) 8) Flanagan (R) (18)
- 3) Agger (C/L) (26) 9) Robinson (L) (17)
- 4) Johnson (R/L) (26) 10) Ayala (C) (20)
- 5) Kyrgiakos (C) (31)
- 6) COENTRAO (L) (23) ($27M/£18M)
Notable omissions: Aurelio (Loan/Sell), Konchesky (Sell), Insua (Loan/Sell), Darby (Loan), Mavinga (Loan), Wilson (Loan). Of these, Wilson is still the best prospect at 19, but he needs a full season of games. Ayala has come back from Loan, and is more ready at the moment.
I know the main critique here will be the CB's, but I gave this much thought, and for a main three, I think we're ok. Carragher & Skrtel have been solid this year, especially after Dalglish came in, and while Agger's injuries have been well documented, I am biased, as he's a class above, and still only 26. So, those are my three main CB's, with an experienced backup in Kyrgiakos and young options in Kelly & Ayala.
Coentrao is also a class above Enrique. Like Meireles, I think he'd jump at the chance to move from Portugal to Liverpool, even without Champions League football for a season.
- M 1) Gerrard (CM/AM/WD) (31) 7) Coady (CM) (18)
- 2) Meireles (CM/AM) (28) 8) Suso (AM/WD) (17)
- 3) Lucas (CM) (24) 9) Sterling (WD) (16)
- 4) Maxi (AM/WD) (30) (10) HAZARD (WD) (20) ($30M/£20M)
ALONSOADAM (CM) (25) ($12M/£8M)
- 6) MATA (WD) (23) ($39M/£26M)
Notable omissions: Poulsen (Sell), Cole (Sell), Aquilani (Sell), Ince (Loan/Sell), Amoo (Loan/Sell), Shelvey (Loan), Spearing (Loan). Like Wilson, Shelvey is 19 and needs regular starts. I've also long wanted Spearing to show his critics that he can cut it in the Premiership, and I think he has. Over the past couple of seasons however, he hasn't played nearly enough games, and that may also be the case next season, so a Loan with a full season of games should do wonders.
He may cost two or three times as much, but Mata is worth it over Young. Also, the kind of game we'll be playing under Dalglish will involve high pressing, plenty possession and more taking of the game to the opposition. As such, the players we have for CM should be sufficient for that system, so I don't think we need to spend big on a 'Mascherano' type player. You can see who my real first choice CM purchase would be, but from what's realistically available, Adam will do.
Comolli & Dalglish may have to do a bit more to convince Mata & Hazard to come without Champions League football, but they're young enough that perhaps 'guaranteeing' our return in 2012/13 (as potential league champions) may do the trick. This is where Comolli would have to earn his money.
- F 1) Kuyt (WD/2nd. STR/TOP) (30) 4) Pacheco (2nd. STR) (20)
- 2) Suarez (WD/2nd STR/TOP) (24) 5) Eccleston (WD/2nd STR) (20)
- 3) Carroll (TOP) (22)
Notable omission: Ngog (Loan/Sell). At 22, Ngog needs to be playing more regularly. This is the only area without any additions, but I think anyone would accept a 2011 spend of 90M/£60M on the forward line - it's just that it happened in Jan. And again, with the type of game we'll be playing next season, we could potentially get double-figures from Gerrard, Meireles, Maxi, & Adam.
So, that's approximately $108M/£72M Gross in the Summer on four players, and one Free Transfer if I had my way. If the club can really get a third from sales, then the Net spend will be $72M/£48M, which is not unreasonable for a club of Liverpool's stature
I welcome all feedback, whether complimentary or critical, as this article is really about what us as fans want to happen this summer, as we go for the Title. I say the Title, not top-4, as the above squad is more than capable of that. Besides, that's the only real thing that will make up for two seasons out of the Champions League, i.e. gong back as League Champions!
As the article's title says, this is a fan's wish-list and not to be taken in any way as "in the know" or as being superior to others' choices. The names are my own preferences based on who we've been linked with, with the quoted costs being my own approximation based on the same links.
So, feel free to suggest alternatives, but I urge you to try to stay within the numbers, so you'll have to replace a player from my roster, not simply add to it.
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