The Reds spent their Luis Suarez money and more over the summer with mixed results but could attempt to upgrade from Fabio Borini to Wilfried Bony up front during the winter
Liverpool are a long way from the optimism that abounded this time last year. With Luis Suarez sold and Daniel Sturridge mired in a seemingly interminable injury battle, Brendan Rodgers’ side have struggled to adapt to the demands of the Premier League and Champions League in 2014-15. With the Suarez money already gone, Goal considers how they could address their slide in January…
|WHAT’S THE BUDGET?
Not as much as they need. Liverpool raised £75 million (€96m) by ridding themselves of Suarez in the summer but quickly spent that cash on a whole host of new faces, some of whom have done decidedly better than others. Even with Barcelona’s riches lining their coffers, the Reds still achieved a net spend of over £30m (€38m) between seasons.
It means that they will likely have to seek cheaper options if they are to breathe new life into their deeply frustrating campaign, especially as owner Fenway Sports Group does not have a habit of excessive January spending. In two of the four winter windows over which FSG has presided, Liverpool have made no acquisitions at all and their splashing out on Suarez and £35m (€45m) man Andy Carroll in 2011 was made possible only by the £50m (€60m) sale of Fernando Torres.
Only in 2013 have the club recently made serious January moves without selling first, when they bought Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho, both quantifiable hits.
|WHAT’S THE MANAGER SAID?
Unsurprisingly, given his side’s troubles – they sit 10th before the visit of Swansea City on Monday – Rodgers has indicated a cautious willingness to recruit this winter.
“There will always be speculation,” he told reporters on Christmas Eve. “If there’s a possibility to strengthen, we will take a look, for the right type of player.”
One issue on which the Liverpool boss is happy to be stronger, however, is the future of Mario Balotelli. The £16m (€20m) forward, something of an admitted panic buy by the Northern Irishman after other targets fell through, has yet to score a Premier League goal since his return to England but his manager insists that he will not be sold.
“It is not something I have even thought about,” Rodgers declared on Saturday.
“We have had a lot of games this season in a lot of competitions. At this moment in time, it is key for me to keep the squad together.”
|WHO’S COMING IN?
While more or less every position could do with improvement, Liverpool’s biggest priorities must surely be right at the heart of the defence and up top.
With Sturridge still struggling to get back into action, Balotelli and Rickie Lambert have been unable to sustain first-team places, leaving Rodgers increasingly turning to Raheem Sterling as an unorthodox centre-forward.
Talk persists of Divock Origi, who signed for the Merseysiders in the summer before being loaned back to Lille for the season, being brought to Anfield ahead of schedule. The Belgian striker has indicated excitement at the possibility but Goal understands that such an agreement is unlikely to be reached – and, even if it could be, Origi has scored only four goals in 22 appearances this term and does not appear to be much of a short-term fix.
A more ambitious target is Swansea City’s Wilfried Bony, in whom the Reds were interested over the summer. They would have to fight off Tottenham for the Ivorian’s signature, however, and Swans boss Garry Monk has warned that it would take “an astronomical fee” to buy him.
A succession of errors have led to Simon Mignolet being dropped in December and Liverpool must be in the market for a top-class goalkeeper. Chelsea No.2 Petr Cech has been linked – and his agent has hinted that the veteran would consider such a move – but may not be available in January.
Mignolet’s poor form has been partly the fault of disastrous defending in front of him, too, however, with £20m (€24m) summer signing Dejan Lovren in particular a shadow of the player who excelled for Southampton last season. A solid new defender or two would not go amiss.
|WHO’S ON THEIR WAY OUT?
Rodgers may not yet be ready to write off his Balotelli gamble but one striker who looks likely to leave Anfield this winter is Fabio Borini.
Admirably, the Italian turned down a permanent move to Sunderland in the summer in order to try to establish himself once and for all at his parent club but chances have since been few and far between. He is now close to accepting that his Liverpool career is over, with the Black Cats having reopened talks with Rodgers’ side about a transfer that might be necessary to fund any new recruits.
Full-back Glen Johnson is also a candidate to be shipped out. The England international has struggled for form over the last couple of seasons and, with youngsters Javi Manquillo, Alberto Moreno and Jon Flanagan all playing in his positions, he is keen to leave in January and Goal understands that Roma are closely monitoring his situation.