13 days remaining: Assessing Liverpool's upcoming transfer activity...
Compared to the early periods of the transfer window, the past month has been dominated by news and rumours about the confirmed and impending departures of certain Liverpool players. With the dust settling on the arrival of big money signing Christian Benteke, attentions turn to manager Brendan Rodgers’ efforts at balancing his squad by offloading some of the deadwood.
Out In The Cold
The equivalent of Anfield’s Siberia, the unwanted trio of left-back Jose Enrique, forwards Mario Balotelli and Fabio Borini will be offloaded as soon as possible. It says much of Enrique’s decline, from former manager Kenny Dalglish’s great hope at left-back to one that can’t even get ahead of his younger compatriot – who himself is kept out by an even younger and inexperienced English centre-back deployed at left-back.
Most Liverpool fans would think Enrique would at least be good enough to be Rodgers’ back-up left-back, but such is Rodgers’ lack of faith in Enrique, the former Newcastle United left-back would do well to move on in search of first-team football, especially at the prime of his career.
For the two unwanted Italian forwards, however, the situation is different and much clearer. With four strikers already ahead of them in the pecking order, there seems to be no place for Balotelli, much less Borini. The likelihood is that Borini will depart on load, perhaps to Sunderland again, but for Balotelli, it seems there isn’t many clubs willing to take a punt on a temperamental yet talented forward. Perhaps Italian clubs Lazio or Internazionale might consider.
Closer to the exit door than to Liverpool’s bench is Brazilian Lucas Leiva. Many have cited that Lucas is the most natural defensive midfielder in a squad lacking in this area, with the likes of Emre Can and Jordan Henderson likely to only be reluctant emergency midfield enforcers. Lucas is still a valuable part of the squad – yes, squad, not first-team – as he can provide defensive solidarity in midfield when called upon against the top four or at tough away grounds.
Lucas’s experience will also be vital in a young and slightly inexperienced team. Only long-serving centre-back Martin Skrtel, veteran defender Kolo Toure, and new signing and vice-captain James Milner are older than the Brazilian. His dressing room influence is not to be underestimated as well, and Rodgers would do well to placate and try to keep him at the club.
Another that might leave is Mamadou Sakho, with reports of Roma’s loan bid turned down likely to relieve most Reds fans. Sakho seems to be a superior fit to Dejan Lovren, just as how Lucas should be regarded higher than Joe Allen. However with Rodgers being manager, he will likely back his preferred players.
Most fans will hope Lovren and Allen will prove themselves, and at the moment, Sakho will only have to bide his time and wait for his opportunity – which should not be too far away, with Lovren only a mistake away from a massive plunge in confidence. The former Paris St. Germain skipper is certainly a solid option to have in the squad, and like Lucas, Rodgers will be foolish to let Sakho go.
Finally, left-back Moreno’s exclusion from the first eleven, behind a youthful Joe Gomez, seems to mark the Spaniard for an early Anfield exit. However, Moreno will almost certainly get his chance sooner or later. Home games will be a good platform to play Moreno, as his attacking verve and natural width will be useful to break down teams which decide to sit back at Anfield.
The young Spaniard has only just settled into life in England, and though he will be expected to show great improvement this term, Moreno should be seen as a long-term option at left-back. Rodgers will need to nurture him like how he did for the likes of Jordan Henderson and Skrtel, as Moreno will only be able to showcase his ability with the necessary confidence from his manager and in himself.
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