Liverpool have undoubtedly set out to do their business early and achieve a full, settled squad before the season starts on the 17th of August. The Merseyside club have shown astuteness, signing the Belgian stopper Simon Mignolet from Sunderland to provide competition for the previously unchallenged and inconsistent Pepe Reina.
The acquisition of Kolo Toure on a free transfer is another smart signing, brought in to replace the experience lost with the retirement of Jamie Carragher.
This summer transfer window has also seen Liverpool add two promising Spaniards to their ranks in the form of Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas. Luis Alberto arrives off the back of a prosperous season on loan at Barcelona B from Sevilla, and Aspas joins after a successful debut season in La Liga where his goals were crucial in ensuring Celta Vigo’s safety.
The issue with these two signings is that they are promising, and are not of the proven quality that their rivals for the Champions League spots are targeting. In terms of achieving Champions League qualification, Liverpool are behind their rivals in terms of squad quality and depth as shown by their seventh placed finish last season behind local rivals Everton.
The club evidently need to play catch up but so far have not been able to sign the calibre of player required to really compete at the top. An example of this failure to sign top players is the club’s top summer transfer target Henrikh Mkhitaryan deciding against a move to Anfield and instead joining last season’s Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund.
Meanwhile Manchester City have already added Fernandinho and Jesus Navas to their squad for an outlay nearing fifty million, Tottenham have signed one of the stars of the Confederations Cup in Paulinho, and the long-awaited arrival of German international Andre Schurrle to Chelsea has further enhanced their attacking options.
All three of these clubs are expected to make further moves in the transfer market and have been linked with some of the most sought after players in world football. Arsenal and Manchester United are yet to sign any proven players of note, but have been heavily linked with players such as Thiago Alcantara, Higuain and most worryingly for Liverpool – Suarez.
Luis Suarez was a talismanic figure for Liverpool last season scoring over a third of the club’s goals in the league, recording the most touches in the opposition penalty box and almost twice the amount of dribbles by any player in the Premier League (Source: Guardian).
To lose him at all, let alone to another Premier League club would be sickening for Liverpool fans and players alike. In fact such is his importance to the team, it should be paramount to managing director Ian Ayre to keep the Uruguayan at all costs despite his previous disciplinary problems and attempts to leave the club.
Kolo Toure has stated that he believes the squad is capable of winning trophies and qualifying for the Champions League next season (Source: BBC), but this will not be possible if the club loses Suarez. The current setup provides a good foundation to build a strong team capable of challenging for major honours.
Brendan Rodgers’ tactical philosophy clearly began to influence how the side played, as shown by the improvement in goal difference from +7 the previous season to +28 in 2012/2013. Gerrard remains a hugely influential figure in the side and the encouraging form of Coutinho, Sturridge and Sterling during different times of the season are reasons to be optimistic.
These positive areas of the Liverpool team will however remain only encouraging signs, if young, unproven and promising is the calibre of player that the club continues to recruit.
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