Assessing Liverpool's options for the season ahead

By George McCormick (featured-columnist) 04 Jul 2013 14:25:10

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As the transfer window is now open, Liverpool have noticeably been the busiest of the Premier league teams.

The Reds have certainly hit the ground running this year, with the intention of building a team worthy of clawing their way back to a top four position.

This is exciting news for Liverpool fans. Too long have they had to make do with below-average season finishes due to a weak outfield side.

So first of all, let’s take a look at who Rodgers has lured to Anfield.

Simon Mignolet

Liverpool’s most important signing so far has to be Simon Mignolet.

With out of favour Pepe Reina likely on his way out, who better to replace the Spaniard than former Sunderland keeper and Belgian international Simon Mignolet.

For £9million, Liverpool have snapped up, according to whoscored.com, the Premier League’s top-ranked goalkeeper last season with an average match rating of 7.01.

He also managed to keep 11 clean sheets in 40 appearances for The Black Cats, and at just 25-years-old, he’s likely to progress with age and be a long term servant for The Reds.

Iago Aspas

Many of you not be familiar with this little Spaniard, so let’s introduce him via YouTube.

Aspas is a natural goal scorer. He reminds me of the fit and healthy Carlos Tevez we once knew.

Off the ball, he has that same desire to chase after every ball and give the opposition no time to think.

With the ball, he’s confident, has sensational close-control, good with both feet and can really pack some heat when going for goal.

But it’s the question all Liverpool fans must be thinking: Is Aspas the replacement for want-away striker Luis Suarez?

Suarez has publicly declared his desire to leave Anfield in the summer, with Real Madrid his preferred destination.

Perhaps, wishfully thinking, Rodgers is looking for a versatile addition to the Suarez-Sturridge strike force?

Kolo Toure

Signing Toure on a free is a fantastic bit of business.

The Ivorian has spent 10 years in the Premier League with Arsenal and Manchester City, so his top-flight experience will surely prove to be very beneficial.

My prediction is that the 32-year-old will be rotated throughout the season featuring mostly in cup ties.

If Martin Skrtel gets sold, Toure will act as a temporary stand-in alongside Daniel Agger until Liverpool bring in one of their defensive targets.

Transfer Targets

To the delight of Liverpool fans, Rodgers doesn’t seem finished with bringing in new talent.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, the Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder is said to be doing all he can to force a move to Liverpool.

The Ukrainian club have slapped a £25million price tag on the Armenian international, and this has frustrated him, causing him to go on strike.

On Wednesday, Shakhtar chief executive Sergei Palkin reluctantly revealed the player DOES have the option of leaving for less... if he is prepared to break his current deal.

Palkin said: "Mkhitaryan doesn't have a release clause in his contract, but it does spell out the penalties for unilateral termination of the contract, which is equal to $30m (£19.8m).

If Mkhitaryan wants to terminate the contract, he must pay Shakhtar $30m and go to a club that he likes. If we go in a civilized manner and sell the player, and in doing so he does not break the contract, the value we place on him is 30million euros (£25.5m)." (The Mirror)

Mkhitaryan is a very talented midfielder, one who be seen as a long-term replacement for club legend Steven Gerrard.

Check him out below


Kyriakos Papadopoulos

Schalke 04 starlet Papadopoulos is known for being such a wonderful talent, but also a bit of a “hot head” in terms of his personality.

It makes some sense, though, because he's only 21-years-old and has already emerged as such a big success. As long as Rodgers can harness his passion, the Greek should be a valuable asset for the immediate and long-term future

He strikes me as a Greek version of Daniel Agger. Technically gifted, very calm on the ball and good in the air – just don’t get on his bad side.

Like Agger, Kyriakos loves a tackle, even more so when he leaves his victim in pieces.

Tiago Ilori

Here’s one for the future.

At 20-years-old, standing at 6 foot 3 inches this Sporting Lisbon centre-back may not fit the bill to replace Jamie Carragher, but has the attributes to become a world-class defender.

According to Sporting, the Portuguese defender has broken sprinting records previously held by the likes of Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Rodgers’ defensive options are starting to pile up. With Martin Kelly and Andre Wisdom fighting for a starting position, is Ilori worth spending £3millon on?

Rodgers’ Vision

Assuming that Rodgers brings in the targets he’s after, the team he is dreaming of, on paper, is potentially very threatening indeed.

However, there is that harsh term called ‘reality’.

The reality is, Suarez is banned until late September for trying chew on Ivanovic’s arm last season, Daniel Sturridge is a doubt after suffering an ankle injury whilst on international duty – yet Liverpool remain confident he’ll be fit for the start of the season.

Also, the controversial situation surrounding Mkhitaryan may hinder the transfer. His £25million price tag may prove a little steep for The Reds, and Kyriakos Papadopoulos’ transfer is rumoured to be put off until January.

Therefore, the team to begin the 2013-2014 campaign might look something like this.



The Bench

With the players Rodgers has brought in and hopes to bring in, the quality of the substitute bench will obviously be of a higher quality.

Players such as Borini and Suso, who are still only young, have time to develop and have been doing so with their youth national teams.

Keeper Brad Jones is always a reliable and a worthy replacement if Mignolet was to, god forbid, pick up an injury.

The Future is Bright for Liverpool

With the team Brendan Rodgers hopes to create, The Reds are sure to be in contention for a top four finish.

Bear in mind, the players have to gel and what not, but that’s not a major issue.

The issue is to get these targets to the club as soon as possible.

The probable line up will, I’m afraid, struggle to get off to a good start – there are too many weak links.

When Suarez returns, and hopefully stays, and Sturridge gets back to optimum fitness, Liverpool will be looking to challenge for a Champions League place, and maybe even the title.

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