The summer transfer window may well have closed, but business is still ongoing for Liverpool, who have one final deal to tie up.
Victor Valdes, the former Barcelona goalkeeper who is currently a free agent, has been a target of manager Brendan Rodgers for some time now, and it appears the move is imminent.
As Anthony Chapman of the Daily Express revealed, reports in Valdes’ native Spain suggest the 32-year-old is on the verge of signing a one-year deal at Anfield, coming in to rival Simon Mignolet for a regular spot between the Liverpool posts.
Valdes has been out of action since late March owing to an anterior cruciate ligament injury, but should he shake that off, he’ll undoubtedly have a big impact for the Reds, as he did in Catalonia.
As journalist Guillem Balague revealed, Barcelona would ideally have liked to keep their star goalkeeper, but such was his determination to leave that the club had no choice, and that will certainly profit Liverpool:
With Liverpool fighting trophy battles on four fronts this season, squad depth will likely be the difference between glory and failure, and having a reliable, second-choice pair of hands at Rodgers’ disposal will be nothing but beneficial.
Indeed, Valdes is as solid a shot-stopper as they come, and while the physicality of the Premier League means that he’ll likely have to deal with more crosses and attackers’ elbows than ever before, he’s more than good enough to handle it.
That’s something that sports journalist Graham Hunter agrees with, too, saying that Valdes would be a great addition at Anfield:
With Brad Jones failing to give Mignolet a run for his money in goal, Valdes’ signature is leaning towards being more a necessity than a luxury, and it could yet bring the best out of the Belgian.
His capture wouldn’t be the only new addition to the Liverpool squad from Spain, though, as talented Villarreal youngster Madger put pen to paper at Anfield on Wednesday, per Neil Jones of the Liverpool Echo.
A Spanish under-17 midfielder, Madger’s stock has risen considerably over the last year with Villarreal, and Liverpool will hope his progression continues in their academy.
The left-footed maestro also hopes as much, as he revealed via Twitter:
Madger will now look to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge and Mario Balotelli by becoming a first-team regular, but whether his name will cause the rumbles in the football world that the latter’s does remains to be seen.
Balotelli made his Liverpool debut in the 3-0 victory on Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, and showed the kind of grit and determination that’s been lacking in his game at other clubs.
With Liverpool back in the Champions League this season, a player like the Italian is exactly what they need to go all the way, and former winner Andriy Shevchenko says the Reds can do exactly that with Balotelli, per David Anderson of the Daily Mirror:
Balotelli deserves another chance and Liverpool will give it to him. They are a great team, he can aspire to also win the Champions League.
It's up to him to overcome the difficulties and take back control of his destiny.
If he was not happy and Milan weren't either, it was right to separate.
But I saw Mario at the European Championships two years ago in Ukraine and Poland. He was a fantastic player and I refuse to believe that this has been lost along the way.
Making a mark on the biggest stage of them all is exactly what Balotelli has made a living out of across his exciting career, and Champions League football gives him the chance to do that yet again.
With a pair of ties against Real Madrid to come in this season’s group stage, the 24-year-old has two perfect occasions in which to step up, and it would be unwise to bet against him accomplishing such a feat.
As Valdes’ signature looms closer and Balotelli begins to show that he’s a footballer rather than an entertainer, Liverpool suddenly have the look of a side that can really challenge for silverware in 2014-15.
Besides, with a manager like Rodgers at the helm, anything’s possible.