A spending spree that mirrors what Fenway Sports Group and Liverpool did last summer does not sound appealing to the normal Liverpool supporter, but what Brendan Rodgers is doing at the outset of this summer transfer window seems to have a different feel to it.
Let’s face it, last season’s attempt to replace Luis Suarez was a disaster. Fans had hope for Mario Balotelli based on his potential but that was never reached.
Fans romanticized about the story of Rickie Lambert, the boyhood Red coming home, but that was an utter failure.
Lazar Markovic has promise but didn’t demonstrate much of that, and was often the first player to be subbed off (if granted the opportunity to start in the first place). It was a noble attempt, but those attackers were destined for failure.
This summer started with…well, not a bang. James Milner, Danny Ings and Adam Bogdan.
A second choice midfielder at Manchester City, an unproven young striker from a relegated side and what looks to be an average keeper (who happened to play well against Liverpool) for a Championship division team.
From an outsider’s perspective, those aren’t top-tier signings, and those players are nowhere near what Liverpool need to push into the top four, let alone compete for a league title.
However, with the announcement of Roberto Firmino’s signing from Hoffenheim along with the agreement for the services of Nathaniel Clyne, plus the increased pursuit of several other large names, perhaps FSG and the Liverpool executives have stumbled onto something.
Since the magical run of the Luis Suarez-led team of 2013-14, supporters have been expecting improvements to be made to return to that level. The truth is, that level will not be reached. There is no way to replace a Suarez, or for that matter, the feeling surrounding that squad that came oh-so-close.
On top of that, with the departure of beloved captain Steven Gerrard, the main headline for transfer rumours is the constant “Liverpool find possible Gerrard replacement.”
Looking at prospective players to fill that role, the reoccurring name on the market is Inter Milan’s Mateo Kovacic even though Inter are rumoured to have no desire to sell. Others have labeled Emre Can as the player to take that role.
Again, like Suarez, Gerrard can’t be replaced, especially the Gerrard of old that people so fondly remember. However, even though Liverpool have not found suitable replacements for those two players, the prospects for next season look good.
Bogdan may come across as a peculiar signing, as Simon Mignolet proved himself to be a clear number one keeper. However, it flew under the radar that last season’s backup, Brad Jones did not have his contract renewed, leaving the reserve keeper’s spot vacated.
Enter Bogdan, who was solid for Bolton and is a younger player who, although he likely won’t challenge Mignolet, has a presence strong enough to keep the Belgian on his toes at all times.
Defensively, not much will change, although Clyne’s arrival will certainly aid a side who, despite the occasional contributions of Glen Johnson, have been lacking at right back for years.
It’s also worth noting that Charlton Athletic and England youth Joe Gomez has signed, and, despite the fact that he doesn’t look to play an immediate role, he is said to have a lot of talent and could possibly find himself on the pitch by season’s end.
Martin Skrtel is the rock in the center, while Mamadou Sakho is the likely choice beside him, although Dejan Lovren could find himself in there with Sakho so prone to injuries. Alberto Moreno will also retain his spot n the left. Still, Clyne will look to be the only major change from last season’s defense.
The area where Liverpool will thrive most is in the midfield moving forward. Whether it is Emre Can, a new signing like targets Kovacic and Asier Illarramendi, or Lucas Leiva in the holding role, Brendan Rodgers will feel comfortable there.
Where it gets tricky is in the next layer of the midfield. Jordan Henderson is a certainty, as he is likely to be the next captain. James Milner was signed to be in the first team consistently, so he could pair with Henderson, giving Liverpool two solid roamers in the center, both of whom can pass and finish well.
Philippe Coutinho is possibly the most valuable player to Liverpool right now, and like new boy Roberto Firmino, can be utilized in a wide position as well as in the center. A healthy Daniel Sturridge would be the best complement up top.
The problem lies on the bench. New boy Danny Ings and first-year flops Adam Lallana and Lazar Markovic stick out as players without a spot in the starting XI. And although it’s almost certain he will be sold, Raheem Sterling is still under contract. Where could they fit in?
Sturridge’s health is a large concern. However this can open up options such as playing Ings up top, with Coutinho and Lallana or Markovic on the wings and Firmino in the center, either as a striker (which he is capable of playing) or as a false-nine center forward.
Despite the different possibilities with Liverpool’s personnel, it looks as if they will all thrive on Rodgers’ high-tempo, exciting brand of attacking football.
Again, a return to the days of Suarez is out of the question, but there is no doubt that Liverpool’s signings, coupled with the possibility of more, could result in a positive outcome of the 2015-16 campaign.