It is a crucial period in the transfer market for Liverpool Football Club, a second successive season without Champions League football looms and the pre-season targets have changed from title challenges to what now seems an audacious attempt in overhauling the elite top four in England. The financial strength of Manchester City, Chelsea, self sustained Arsenal and of course Manchester United have moved further away from the chasing pack. The rumour of new personnel set to move to Anfield next season has been rife, but the failings of previous regimes means the Reds must now act fast yet diligently to get back into the so called ‘Top Four’.
It is the revitalised and resurgent Liverpool under Kenny Dalglish, who have been linked with many of the Premier League’s young and surprisingly British players in the transfer market. The Reds have had a torrid time in the past decade with over 121 players being bought in by both Gerard Houllier (38) and Rafael Benitez (83). Both of whom chose to turn their attentions to their respective homelands in France and Spain to buy players.
Sunderland’s Jordan Henderson and Blackburn Rovers’ Phil Jones have been highlighted by the British media as Liverpool’s top targets, with a reputed £30m double signing for the pair. Blackpool’s Charlie Adam has been linked with just about every Premier League club including Liverpool and the Reds continue to monitor Villa’s Ashley Young and Wigan’s James McCarthy. It appears Dalglish intends to restore the British tradition to one of England’s most decorated clubs.
This would come as no surprise to Blackburn Rovers fans, who under Dalglish from 1991-1995 saw the Scot bring in a core contingent of British talent from the likes of England goalkeeper Tim Flowers, David Batty and Chris Sutton. It was a model which would in time prove successful, as Rovers ended an 81 year wait by winning the Premier League in 1995. Liverpool fans must take heart from the club legend’s ability to find, produce and develop players.
The signing of Andy Carroll in January 2011 for £35m from Newcastle United has earmarked a shift in the transfer policy at Liverpool Football Club. The recruitment of Damien Comolli, the ex Spurs scout to support Dalglish can only be a positive signing for a club that has spent far too much money in recent years on quantity rather then quality. But it is important to note – Mr Dalglish signed a certain Alan Shearer for Blackburn Rovers in 1992, and the former England captain went onto score 112 goals in 138 appearances – so the omen of buying British is very much one that can prove successful.
The most successful sides in England this season have been built around home-grown talent, Champions Manchester United have used 14 British players in all competitions this season, with FA Cup winners Manchester City able to call on the likes of England number one Joe Hart, Adam Johnson, Gareth Barry and James Milner. Both Arsenal and Chelsea have blooded youngsters in Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs and Josh McEachern to mention a few.
The problem for Liverpool is the best of the rest seem to have got stronger, Tottenham have brought through youngsters so too have Aston Villa and before Dalglish took over in January 2011, the Reds had not even considered using 18 year old full back John Flanagan or 19 year old Jonjo Shelvey, two youngsters who have gone onto feature in all of Dalglish’s games in charge and right back Flanagan in particular started the last seven games. Midfielder Jay Spearing and defender Martin Kelly have too enjoyed regular spells in the first team.
It is a pivotal time for the Reds, with new ownership and money to spend, Kenny Dalglish must continue to utilise the resurgent impact of his youngsters as well as buying the right blend of British talent. It is the spirit and adaptability of British talent which has been missing from Liverpool Football Club in the past decade, and with the 2011/2012 season marking 22 years without a league title, a change in attitude in the transfer market under Kenny Dalglish would appear to be the most suitable option in developing not only a challenge against the likes of Manchester United but also enforcing a legacy of home grown and British players which can continue to compete at the top level of European football.
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