David N'Gog: Likely to be in a Sunderland shirt next season
With the confirmed arrival of Jordan Henderson at Anfield heralding the Reds' first foray into the summer transfer market, Liverpool will likely be a striker short as part of the deal. Whether or not David N'Gog will be a part of the player plus cash Henderson deal is yet to be confirmed. Regardless, with Sunderland woefully short of strikers up front, it would be a good move for the young Frenchman who is in dire need of first-team minutes.
Former manager Rafa Benitez once remarked about his scouting network "They are finding players like N'Gog, players with quality who are not a high price". This may have been a bit of an embellishment, as Liverpool's No. 24 hasn't exactly sparked fireworks at Anfield. To be fair, he's been asked to fill the boots of Fernando Torres when the Spaniard has been injured and spearhead the hopes of fans who have endured their fair share of frustration at the team's inability to put the ball in the net.
With N'Gog out the door, Liverpool are left with one and half world-class strikers in Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll. For the sake of argument, let's assume that Dalglish intends to keep Dirk Kuyt out on the right, even though he has had a stand-out year playing up front. To be challenging for a top-place finish next season, they'll need another body up front.
Director of football Damien Comolli has outlined the club's stance on prioritizing English talent, so with that in mind, let's take a look at potential targets to replace N'Gog. As always I welcome your comments!
I'll be the very first to admit that I know absolutely nothing about 18-year-old Connor Wickham, who plays for Ipswich Town. Under contract at the club until 2014, it is reported that a bid in the region of £10 million ($16 million) would be enough to ensure that the championship club can purchase a suitable replacement.
Being young and English, Wickham fits the trend begun by the signing of Henderson, but at 18 and with no Premier League experience, would the player be what we are looking for?
At 6'4", Wickham is certainly an imposing physical striker, and his pace and power is something that is typically cherished in a Premier League forward. With the current trend of playing a lone front-man on his own, you'd imagine that the player would (eventually) be able to lead the line by himself, similar to what we expect of Andy Carroll. According to reports, he's a boyhood Liverpool fan, idolizes El Niño and is hungry to prove himself on the big stage.
After spending the proceeds of Torres' sale on Suarez and Carroll, the two January purchases would likely be streets ahead of Wickham in the pecking order. You could argue that the main reason for having a quality third place striker is as cover in the case of your front two getting injured, but its also important to keep one eye on the future and nurture up and coming talent. Relying on the likes of Wickham to score goals in the Premier League and sustain a title challenge may be one step too far.
Back in January, Liverpool was sniffing around Andy Carroll, and an amusing scenario emerged. When the Liverpool striker was released on bail in late 2010, one of the conditions was that he was to live with Newcastle captain Kevin Nolan. With the No. 9's £35 million transfer to Anfield in the bag, two questions emerged. Would Carroll be required to make the daily commute from Newcastle to Liverpool every morning for training and matches, or would the Reds need to make a bid for Nolan's services as well?
Now I know what you're thinking. At 28 years old, the signing of Kevin Nolan doesn't exactly fit with FSG's policy of emphasizing youth development. Also, he's not the kind of signing that would signal Liverpool's intent to make an assault on the top four, as someone like Sergio Aguero would. He's not terribly fast or skillful, and he's not a 20-plus goals per season striker.
It is unlikely that Nolan's playing style would fit the fast, fluid, pressing game that Dalglish has brought to Anfield.
But Kevin Nolan is available after rejecting a new contract offer from Newcastle, and his transfer fee would surely be in the single digits. The striker is a proven Premier League performer, a genuine aerial threat on set pieces (both offensively and defensively) and an experienced campaigner even though his goal celebration leaves a lot to be desired.
Would he be content to sit on the bench and plug the gaps when required? Maybe. Either way, he's value for money.
Similar to Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge was one of the form players in the Premier League for the second half of the season. After two seasons of warming the bench for Chelsea and making sporadic appearances in the FA Cup, the striker was loaned to Bolton Wanderers in the winter transfer window and netted eight goals in 12 appearances.
Trotters boss Owen Coyle could barely hide his delight as the England U21 international took his opportunity to play first team soccer with both hands. Pace, trickery and no small amount of finishing ability were manifested almost overnight once he began playing regularly.
At only 21 years of age, he would be an outstanding addition to Liverpool's squad, as his proven his ability to score goals in impress in the Premier League. Now obviously, there's no way that Chelsea would ever let him go, given the season he had with Bolton as well as the fact that it would weaken the blues and strengthen a bitter rival. But if you're looking for young, English and proven in the Premier League, I don't see another striker that ticks all the boxes like Sturridge does.
Right now, the player sits behind Torres, Dider Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Saloman Kalou in the pecking order at Stamford Bridge. He'd be aching to play more soccer, but at the end of the day, a move to Liverpool wouldn't guarantee any playing time as he'd find himself behind our front two.
Another loan move will likely be on the cards for the player next season unless Chelsea offload some of their front-me. I'd take him at Anfield in a second, but that very well may be a Bridge too far, eh?
After you're done laughing, just entertain the fantasy for a few minutes. Nicklas Bendtner is still only 23 years old, and looking past his slightly questionable injury record, he is a quality player that possess all of the ability to score goals in the Premier League. He's big, he's fast, he's got skill with both feet and (according to the man himself) he's Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Jesus himself rolled into one, only better looking.
The Dane is behind Van Persie and Marouane Chamakh at the Emirates Stadium and has already confirmed that he wants to leave this summer.
This news probably sparked mass celebrations in London, but there's been little noise in the league about clubs responding to his availability. Despite his arrogance, Bendtner would be a valuable addition to the squad, as he can play up front on his own, with a partner or even out on either side, as Wenger has utilized the striker as a game-changing substitute on many occasions this season.
Being able to bring on the man late in the game when looking for a goal or starting him in the absence of Carroll or Suarez wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, would it?
In the cold light of day, this move would never materialize. Not only would Kenny hate having to deal with such an idiot, but Bendtner is looking to leave Arsenal in search of first-team opportunities, and they would be nowhere near guaranteed at Anfield.
First of all, can you imagine Jaime Carragher attempting to pronounce this kid's last name, let alone give him an earful on the pitch? Probably the only player in Europe that could give Martin Škrtel a run for his money in a "who has the least vowels in his last name" contest, Barcelona striker Bojan Krkić could very well be available this summer for the right fee. He's not English, but he's young and bloody talented, having exchanged more than a few passes with the likes of Lionel Messi and Pedro in the Catalan's front line.
With rumors circulating of Pep Guardiola making a move for Guiseppe Rossi, Krkić will surely be on the lookout for other opportunities. He's still only 20 years old, but he's made over 100 appearances on the first team sheet playing for the Best Team in the World™. The little Spaniard's style of play bears more resemblance to Suarez then Carroll, and he's proven himself to be not only an astute finisher, but posses outstanding movement and close control.
In a nutshell, just the kind of guy you'd want to throw on when you're looking for a goal. During Liverpool's march to the Champions League final in 2005, Rafa Benitez called upon the services of Florent Sinama Pongolle to bring a spark to the pitch, and he certainly obliged. I don't think Krkić would be in a position to challenge for first-team action week-in week-out, but he'd be a valuable option to in Cup games and as cover for our main guys.
Best of all, he'd likely be available on the relative cheap.
I'm sure nothing would gall Roy Hodgson more than to lose his breakout player of last season to his former employers. If you play fantasy soccer, you very well may be aware of the sensation that is Nigerian striker Peter Odemwingie. Brought in by Roberto Di Matteo in August, he absolutely exploded in the second half of the season and bagged 15 goals for West Brom to help them secure their spot in the Premier League.
An absolute live-wire, the striker seemed to always be in the right place at the right time. Odemwingie's goals were absolutely vital for West Brom, and they will likely do everything in their power to keep him. At 29, he is certainly not an investment for the future, but he represents a relatively inexpensive option that could act as adequate cover for our goalscoring needs.
It remains to be seen whether his fine form will continue in his second season in England, but with a name like this guy has, who cares?
Where were you when Dirk Kuyt scored at hat-trick against Manchester United? I remember almost missing that game but celebrating for hours afterwards. It may have been Luis Suarez's trickery or Nani's brainlessness (and subsequent tears) that stole the headlines, but it was the Dutchman who brought the goods that day. Never before had being in the right place at the right time yielded such spectacular results.
So why are we worrying about the need for another striker when Liverpool's No. 18 is always waiting in the wings to provide the sterling service we have come to know and love? Kuyt scored 13 goals this season, his highest yet tally for the Anfield club. He looked more than comfortable up front and, when paired with Suarez during Carroll's injury absence, was a capable deputy and relished the opportunity to be playing in the position that he enjoys the most.
He'll be 31 this summer, and he's not getting any younger, so there is an obvious need to look to the future. But what is the hurry? If the right man isn't available in the months to come, I don't think there's any need to panic, as we have more than enough ammunition at our disposal with Kuyt in the squad.
Assuming that a winger is brought to the club, I think it would be fitting for the Dutchman to play up front and see if he can build on last season.