Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool seem to be coming in for a bit of criticism for the size of his squad and number of players bought so far during the summer transfer window. We seem to be getting a lot of comparisons with Tottenham too who bought in a lot of players with the money they got from selling Gareth Bale to Real Madrid. The only similarity I see though is that both Spurs and Liverpool have sold one of its biggest stars for a lot of money.
Spurs Sold Gareth Bale quite late on in the Transfer Window and literally panic bought a lot of players in a very short time however Liverpool sold Suarez much earlier and have a lot more time to pick and choose suitable players to enhance their squad.
Its no secret that Liverpool had a small squad for last season and certainly lacked quality substitutions. Looking at our bench for the big games and comparing it to the benches of our top rivals, the gulf between them and depth of squads available to Mourinho, Pellegrini etc was certainly very evident. If we had that depth or quality then maybe we could have gone that extra step last season. Maybe it was that lack of depth and quality that saw our challenge slip at the final hurdle. We obviously had a good first team but when we lost a player (like Henderson after his red card) or bring on some fresh legs we significantly weakened our team.
So far we have made six summer signings which may sound like a lot. However 1 of those signings has been loaned back out to the club we bought them from (Divock Origi – bought from Lille but loaned back for a season) so he will not be part of our squad this season. Suarez isn’t the only player we have lost – definitely the most high profile and best player but we have also lost Sissoko and Moses too. Both spent last season on loan to us and both returned back at the end of last season. Although not technically ‘our’ players, they did feature in our squad in a lot of games – maybe not always the starting 11. We have also lost Alberto and Aspas too as both players have gone out on loan (to Malaga and Sevilla respectively). Two more players that featured a lot in our squad – usually on the Bench though. Therefore we have lost 5 and gained 5 players.
None of our signings could and are a replacement for Suarez but lets be honest, he is virtually irreplaceable. However the other signings could replace the majority of other players we have ‘lost’. Markovic basically replaces Moses, Lallana replaces Alberto, Can replaces Sissoko and Lambert replaces Aspas. All are definite upgrades and all improve our squad. Even if they are not in the starting 11, they certainly make our bench look more impressive and improve our depth too. You know that they are capable of starting or coming off the bench and wouldn’t weaken the team.
The other signing I haven’t yet mentioned is Lovren. Again its no secret that we leaked a lot of goals last year. In fact we were 2nd in the league of ‘defensive errors leading to a goal’. There has also been a rumour circulating that Agger could finally be on his way to Barcelona – a rumour that has been ongoing for a number of seasons now. Much as I admire Agger and think he is potentially one of our best defenders, he is also getting on a bit in age, injury prone and may not be quite the same player he was. I have never questioned his attitude and commitment but it maybe the right time to cash in on him and I for one will definitely be sad to see our Vice Captain move on. Maybe the slower pace of the Spanish League would suit him better now? If that does happen then Lovren is the natural replacement in terms of our Squad size.
Looking ahead, we are likely (if all the rumours and speculation are true) to be adding 2 new faces this week. RB Manquillo should be arriving on a 2 year loan deal with an option to buy based on appearances but could be in the region of £5m. LB Moreno could be arriving from Sevilla for around £16-20m (depending on which source you read). Of these two I do question the Manquillo deal as we already have Johnson and Flanagan as well as Kelly and McLaughlin who could also play there. However is talent is undeniable and has represented Spain at all youth levels. He is also tipped to be the next Spanish RB and we know Johnson’s contract is up in a year and has lapses in concentration so this could be a good long term investment and with other clubs sniffing, we secured the deal first! Moreno is a definite upgrade and one area we needed quality. Flanagan did a great job there for us but he was playing out of position for him. Enrique spent much of last season injured too so this is definitely an area we needed to strengthen and Moreno is definitely an improvement. At 22 he also has youth on his side and has experienced European League football as he was part of the Sevilla team that won the Europa League and also has represented his country too. What about our goalkeeping position too? Is Reina leaving – if so who can provide a challenge to Mignolet?
We are (at least I hope we are) looking for a Striker as the one area I think we still lack depth is up front. This was evident last night in the Champions Cup. Although just a friendly it was still played in a competitive nature. Sturridge had returned home as a precautionary measure so we played Lambert up front. I really don’t think he poses much threat to defences himself but he does hold the ball up well and brings others into the game. However all this match proved is that he hasn’t got the pace to get behind the defence and needs the ball played to him. This slows our game down and doesn’t allow for the ball to be played behind the oppositions defence. As any defender will tell you, pace and the ball behind you is their biggest worry. No defender likes to be turned and be facing their own goal and players like Sturridge can do that. Unfortunately he is our only striker that can as Origi (another pacey, skillful and strong player) has gone out on loan.
So as you see we may have bought in a few players (could be as many as 8 by the end of the week) but we have also lost a few. All the players brought in also represent an upgrade to a player leaving and those defensive players show we are trying to address our weaknesses too. Even with these 8 signings of which 7 will be available there is still at least one other area we need to strengthen. We are competing on an extra front this season too with Champions League football returning so that means even more games to play. It is said that our small squad could not of coped with all competitions and maybe our title challenge was helped because of failures in the domestic cups. I know it sounds like we have bought a lot of players and a similar number to Spurs but they Panic bought at the last minute and we have taken our time and improved our squad depth over time. We also don’t have to play any of these players and can gradually introduce them into the squad – besides 3 of them should already know what Premiership football is all about. Due to the fact we have had time to bring in players, they have also had time to get to know the squad and settle in – something the Spurs signings didn’t get.
I do think Liverpool have been quite shrewd in their purchases. We knew we needed to improve the depth and to a degree the size of our squad a bit too. I am sure some players are still to leave – maybe on loan or be sold – but I am also sure their are more signings on the way. I still don’t think we have the same type of squad as Chelsea or Man City in that their 2nd 11 is practically as strong as their 1st 11 but we are still much stronger in depth than last year which is what we wanted and needed!
Given the choice of seeing players like Alberto, Aspas, Sissoko, Moses on the subs bench or Lallana, Lambert, Can and Markovic What would you prefer? Which bench shows greater strength, ability and depth? Surely the purpose of a transfer window is to improve the squad and I personally think that is what we have done so far!
What are your thoughts on Liverpool’s squad? Has Brendan Rodgers improved it with the signings he’s made so far? Have your say in the comments! If you are not a member of King of Kop you will need to sign up first!