Alexis Sanchez, David De Gea, Diego Costa. At just over the halfway point of the Premier League season there has been much talk about the men who have made the biggest impact on the campaign so far.
But whilst for pretty much everyone else that means focusing on the talents on the pitch, Liverpool have been left looking at the decisions they’ve made off it. Yes, put on your hard hats, we’re off to the murky underworld of the Reds’ ‘transfer committee.’
Probably stationed deep in the bowels of Anfield and guarded by any number of disappointing Liverpool signings of the Premier League era (get past Robbie Keane and you’re met by Alberto Aquilani), the committee meet to discuss potential Liverpool signings, running them through some form of ‘scouting software’ before the fatal thumbs down is given by Ian Ayre a la Joaquin Phoenix in Gladiator.
That first digit reportedly pointed downwards for the likes of Victor Valdes, now of the Manchester United bench, and Southampton’s Sadio Mane earlier this season, and quite how the computer didn’t blow up when Mario Balotelli’s name went through is a mystery.
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The Italian is trying in his own way to make a success of his move to Anfield, and the £16m outlay for his signature is far from the worst piece of business Liverpool have ever done, but the fact that Brendan Rodgers seems to be doing all he can to create a setup which leaves the Italian out of the team tells its own story.
Having persisted with Balotelli or Rickie Lambert as a figurehead upfront for long enough to fatally damage the club’s Champions League run, Rodgers now seems to have settled on a system which creates a fluid attack and is getting the best out of some of his summer signings such as Lazar Markovic, Alberto Moreno and (before his injury) Adam Lallana.
These were all players given the thumbs up by the committee in the summer, but then it was up to Rodgers to mould them into a team. He’s getting there on that front but the fact remains that over £50m was shelled out on the trio, and that’s before we even get to Dejan Lovren.
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That’s what makes Liverpool’s continued links with the Paris Saint-Germain forward Ezequiel Lavezzi encouraging ones for the club’s fans.
Lavezzi – who could be signed for around £8m – won’t immediately go into the Reds team and score the goals which push them towards the top four as he isn’t that prolific, but crucially he is an experienced player and one who is used to a variety of systems.
The Argentina international is a lot more mobile than Balotelli and Lambert (although glaciers could probably give the latter a headstart), and although the price tag could be considered large for a 29-year-old, Liverpool have spent a lot more on a lot less proven players in the recent past. Not many were very good.
Crucially too, Lavezzi’s would be a signing for the here and now, and not for two or three years down the line. He could be the club’s new Maxi Rodriguez, who was a similar age when he signed from Atletico Madrid in 2010 and always proved reliable.
Liverpool’s continued obsession with the future was fine when they had a superstar like Luis Suarez to drag them along, but at times they have looked a little bare this season. Steven Gerrard is supposed to be enjoying his stroll over the hill to America but instead he’s dipping into his energy reserves and scoring twice to beat League Two opposition in the FA Cup.
The return of Daniel Sturridge will help rectify matters to an extent, of course, but Liverpool need more than that if they are to continue to press forward on four fronts this season.
A few of the summer signings are starting to come to the fore but it’s pretty certain that not all will, and so freshening things up with a figure like Lavezzi would certainly make sense.
But only if the transfer committee’s computer agrees, of course.
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