Liverpool Transfer Rumors: 8 Players Linked With the Reds This Summer

Neri SteinFeatured ColumnistMay 26, 2011

Liverpool Transfer Rumors: 8 Players Linked With the Reds This Summer

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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

    Liverpool FC is a club on the rise after what was one of the most tumultuous seasons in its 119-year history.

    To recap, Roy Hodgson replaced Rafa Benitez last summer after the Spaniard's six-year reign ended in a disappointing fashion, and Hodgson was coming off a brilliant season with Fulham in which he took them all the way to the Europa League final.

    Owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett had put the club up for sale in April and finally found the right buyer in October in the form of John W. Henry and New England Sports Venture (now Fenway Sports Group), according to Sir Martin Broughton, who was appointed by the American duo to oversee the sale, 

    There were some court delays, some harsh words, but in the end, Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox since 2002, added the storied English club to his portfolio.

    Fast forward to January. Liverpool endured terrible results, and Hodgson was sent packing and was replaced by legend King Kenny Dalglish.

    At the very end of the January transfer window, former darling of the Kop Fernando Torres forced through a transfer to Chelsea and FSG splashed out around £55 million for replacements Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll. And the Reds haven't looked back. 

    Liverpool fans certainly don't want the spending to stop there. Liverpool desperately need some width in the side in the form of wingers and have also been in need of a left back for the last three years.

    You can bet the Reds will be very active in the transfer window this summer as Kenny, newly signed to a three-year deal, will want to strengthen his side and take them back to the top. 

    Here are eight players who have been linked with the Reds recently and probably will be linked all summer until they are signed by someone. 

1. Brad Friedel

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    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MAY 22:  Brad Friedel of Aston Villa instructs his team during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park on May 22, 2011 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
    Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

    Is it just me or is this link way out in left field (little baseball joke there)?

    Brad Friedel supposedly wants to return to Anfield for the last couple years of his career and hopes he can see the Champions League at least once. Liverpool obviously can't give him that right away, but all signs are pointing up for the Reds. 

    The American goalkeeper spent three years at Liverpool from 1997-2000 but only played 25 games as he was behind David James in the pecking order. He has since established himself as a quality keeper Blackburn Rovers and Aston Villa.

    Tottenham are also chasing Friedel's signature, and I have to think he'd be more needed there, but he may like the atmosphere around Merseyside better.

    There were some uneasy months this season when Pepe Reina refused to commit his future to Liverpool, but the Spaniard has since stated how excited he is for the future under Kenny Dalglish. Reina doesn't miss games often, but having a capable and proven backup like Friedel is a very good thing.  

    Friedel is out of contract with Aston Villa, and at age 40, he would not command huge wages. The Reds are reportedly offering him a two-year deal, as opposed to Villa's one-year deal.

    Friedel also may be eager to leave Villa because so many of his teammates seem to have one foot already out the door of the struggling club... 

2. Ashley Young

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    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MAY 07: Ashley Young of Villa looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Wigan Athletic on May 7, 2011 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Ashley Young has been a target of Liverpool's for at least two years now, and he's exactly what the Reds need: a winger.

    He has refused to commit his future to Aston Villa after being badgered about it all season long, and now, his new teammate Darren Bent has begged him to stay with the club.

    Young refused to engage in contract negotiations during the season but has stated he'd like to stay with Villa (a lot like Albert Pujols but clearly not as good. Sorry, more baseball), and the 25-year-old England winger has one year left on his contract.

    Young would be a great fit in Liverpool as he can play on either wing or just behind the strikers, which would take some of the scoring pressure off the likes of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll.

    It would also mean Suarez wouldn't have to come back into the midfield as often, and the likes of Raul Meireles and Lucas Leiva could get forward with more ease. Best of all, Young would provide some crosses, from open play or set pieces, for Andy Carroll to get on the end of. 

    Liverpool's main rival in signing Young appears to be Manchester United who have reportedly agreed to a £15 million fee with Aston Villa. But the Reds aren't done shopping at Villa Park...  

3. Stewart Downing

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    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 26: Stewart Downing of Aston Villa in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers at Villa Park on February 26, 2011 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Im
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Stewart Downing is another Aston Villa midfielder who has long been on Liverpool's radar. Downing is a left winger, Liverpool's weakest area on the pitch.

    The 26-year-old Englishman still has two years left on his Villa contract and has also stated he is happy to stay, and that contract negotiations have been going on between his agent and the club recently.

    However, Aston Villa splashed out £24 million on Darren Bent in January, and they may be looking to make some of that back.

    Downing looks a bit of a tougher buy than Young simply because he seems to want to stay at Villa more. But since he still has two years on his contract, Villa may be able to get a higher price for him, or they could at least match Young's fee.

    Ultimately, it may not be up to him if he is sold, and he would fit in very well with Liverpool, for the same reasons as Young.

    It's a long shot, but if Liverpool could get both, that would be quite a coup. And Liverpool are definitely in need of at least two wingers, and getting two who have already proven themselves in the Premier League is not a bad deal at all.  

    The winger, who scored seven league goals this campaign, is also on Arsenal's summer radar with Arsene Wenger possibly looking for a replacement for Andrei Arshavin.

    I'll just say this: Arshavin has scored five goals in three games at Anfield. He obviously likes something about the place. 

4. Charlie Adam

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 22:  Charlie Adam of Blackpool celebrates as scores their first goal from a free kick during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Blackpool at Old Trafford on May 22, 2011 in Manchester, England.  (Phot
    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Blackpool may have just activated a clause in Charlie Adam's contract that effectively gives him one more year at the club, but let's face facts. We all know that was just to get more money out of potential buyers.

    Adam was a whisker away from joining Liverpool in January, but Ian Holloway held onto his prize asset, and it was all for naught.

    The team everyone was rooting for went down and will have to part ways with many of their players, with Adam at the top of that list.

    The commanding midfielder and extremely talented set-piece taker will likely be one of the most fought-over players this summer, with Liverpool trying to fend off the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham for his signature.

    His presence is ominous both on and off the pitch, and his tough approach would be a welcome addition to Liverpool's central midfield.

    He would also allow the likes of Lucas Leiva to get farther forward, which despite his excellent performances this season, is when he plays his best football. Lucas is Brazilian after all, technically. 

    In January, Blackpool rejected their captain's transfer request, and his agent even claimed he had been desperate to move to Merseyside at the time. Blackpool did not think Liverpool's offer was high enough, but now that they have been relegated, they really can't be too cocky. 

    Remember Ollie, beggars can't be choosers. You'll take a £12 million (or in that ballpark) fee, and you'll like it.  

5. Scott Parker

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 22:  Scott Parker of West Ham blows a kiss to the fans at the end of the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Sunderland at Boleyn Ground on May 22, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    Much like Blackpool, West Ham were relegated and will now have to lose their most prized asset: FWA Footballer of the Year Scott Parker. The 30-year-old midfielder was a revelation this season and did his best to inspire the Hammers to stay in the Premier League, but it was not to be.

    Tottenham looked to be in contention for the England international's signature, but apparently West Ham is holding a grudge over the Olympic Stadium turmoil and do not wish to sell to Spurs. This, at the moment, leaves Liverpool to fight it out with Arsenal. 

    His tough tackling and presence both on and off the pitch would be huge pluses for Liverpool, especially given how much time Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher have started missing due to injuries. He also gets forward often to support the attack and latch onto loose balls.

    Given his age, I can't see Parker commanding a very steep price, but in these days, who knows? Even at a higher price, I'd prefer Charlie Adam simply because he's five years younger and can do just a bit more with the ball.  

6. Jose Enrique

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    NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - MAY 22:  Newcastle player Jose Enrique in action during the Barclays Premier League game between Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion at St James' Park on May 22, 2011 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by Stu For
    Stu Forster/Getty Images

    I went into a bit of detail about Liverpool and Real Madrid target Fabio Coentrao here, so I'll leave him off of this list. But we all know Liverpool is in dire need of a left back.

    Newcastle's Jose Enrique has been on the Reds' radar for months now, and although Newcastle thought he'd stick around if the club survived the drop, which they did, it seems as though the Spaniard wants to leave the Magpies.

    Enrique has one year left on his contract, and it's much more likely Newcastle will sell him this summer instead of losing him for nothing next year.

    The left back is quick, likes to get forward and support his strikers and is good at keeping possession, which is the biggest bonus for a defender who likes to get forward.

    Enrique has already proven his worth in the Premier League and would probably cost Liverpool somewhere in the range of £10 million, a much better price than the reported £25 million Benfica want for Coentrao.

    Lyon are also reportedly keen on the left back who wants to transfer to a bigger club in hopes of making the Spanish national team.  

7. Emilio Izaguirre

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    GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17:  Josh Magennis of Aberdeen competes with Emilio Izaguirre of Celtic during the Scottish Cup semi-final between Aberdeen and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2011 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
    Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

    Celtic's Emilio Izaguirre, the 25-year-old Honduran left back has just finished an extremely successful first season in Scotland.

    He won the Scottish Cup with Celtic and was also named the Scottish Football Writers Player of the Year, the SPL Player of the Year and the SPFA Player's Player of the Year. 

    Like almost all fullbacks these days, he likes to get forward, but he has very quick pace, so he is rarely caught out of position. He overlaps well to provide another wide-man in the attack, which means more midfielders can get in the box to get on the end of one of those crosses.

    He may be short (5'9"), but he does not allow himself to be bullied off the ball, no matter where he is on the pitch. His composure both on and off the ball and his crossing would be his two biggest additions to Liverpool. 

    Obviously, Celtic boss Neil Lennon wants to hold on to this guy, but Celtic legend Kenny Dalglish may be able to tempt him to Liverpool, and despite his accolades in just one year of Scottish football, Izaguirre likely would not command an extremely high transfer fee. 

8. Leighton Baines

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    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 02:  Leighton Baines of Everton chases the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Aston Villa at Goodison Park on April 2, 2011 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Signing Leighton Baines would just be so sweet, if only for that fact that Liverpool would have taken away Everton's best player from the last season.

    Baines is one of just of two outfield players who played every minute of his club's Premier League campaign last season, the other being Liverpool's cenrtral defender Martin Skrtel.

    For a club that hasn't been able to keep a quality left back healthy for over three years, that is a very welcome statistic. 

    The England left back scored seven total goals for the Blues last season and was easily the most consistent player on a team that has become incredibly consistent at being inconsistent in recent years.

    They struggle the entire first half of the season and barely muster three wins (if they're lucky). Once the year changes, Everton springs to life and always ends the season comfortably around seventh place (like this year).  

    The 26-year-old Baines surely wants to supplant the 30-year-old Ashley Cole in the England squad at some point, and he may need to get on a more competitive team to do so. 

    His biggest asset to any team are his assists. He had 14 in the league this past season, and Andy Carroll in particular will benefit from that kind of supply.

    Everton manager David Moyes has flat out refused to sell Baines at all but to Liverpool in particular, but it may not be his decision. The Blues need to figure out how to become competitive again, because with the players they've got and even despite their lack of luck when it comes to injuries, they should be performing a lot better.

    Manchester City are also supposedly in the market for Baines (and everyone else really) as well as Arsenal, but the Liverpool-born lad may want to stay home, even if it means crossing Stanley Park.