Liverpool must buy smart in summer transfer window
With the FA Cup behind Liverpool – unfortunately for the club, which has been looking for something to rally around – it is time to consider the off-season.
Liverpool is a young squad, and one that looks to be a lot younger by the start of next season.
Long-time Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard, 34, will be moved on to Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy, and Kolo Toure, 34, and Glen Johnson, 30, will likely be joining him on the way out as their contracts expire this summer. Johnson could be re-signed, but he is not critical for Liverpool, who boast many younger and equally effective options to replace him. Liverpool’s 3-4-3 formation has also made the wing-back position less important to the team’s performance, meaning that Johnson is not a critical piece.
There will be much speculation heading into the off-season, but it is likely the Liverpool squad will be built around some of their star young players, and that other young stars will be sought after to make the squad stronger.
Jordan Henderson’s new five-year contract Thursday means that Gerrard’s natural replacement as captain is a major piece in the team going forward. Joining Henderson as key cogs in Liverpool’s rebuild are Adam Lallana, 26, Raheem Sterling, 20, Daniel Sturridge, 25, Alberto Moreno, 22, and especially Coutinho, just 22. Add Mamadou Sakho, 25, Emre Can, 21 to the list of players that give Liverpool hope for next season.
All of these players are signed until at least 2017, with many of them signed for upwards of three or four more seasons. Liverpool is built for the future when you take into account some of the rising stars in Lazar Markovic, 21, Jordon Ibe, 19 and Jon Flanagan, 22 who have yet to feature regularly. Flanagan is out of a contract this summer, but he is under 23 so he is not eligible to leave the club just yet and will be re-signed.
There are two glaring holes in Liverpool’s roster, which I have addressed in full articles before, but I will briefly touch on them again. Liverpool must improve their goalkeeping situation to from Simon Mignolet, 27, who ranges from world-beating to recreational league, depending on the week, and they must bring in a scorer with some finishing to help give their offense the teeth it used to be known for.
Liverpool should aim to bring in players in the earlier stages of their careers, preferably 25 or younger, to fit with the core of players they are already building around. A young star goaltender will be expensive, but developing alongside Mignolet would allow some breathing room for a goalkeeper that might need occasional rests. Mignolet could slowly be phased out as the team’s number one selection, which would give Liverpool confidence going forward.
Young, established strikers are difficult to find, so Liverpool might need to bring in someone a little further into their development and already in their young prime (25-28 years old) so they can get some effective years out of them. The aim would be for players like Ibe to eventually supplant them if he develops his scoring boots.
It has been a difficult year for Liverpool fans no matter how you analyze it, but the future is shining with talent. The key now will be for manager Brendan Rodgers to make some smart buys and not mortgage the future to win now.