By Justin Fitzgerald
‘Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the Kop there were plenty of creatures stirring actually, especially Brendan Rodgers who undoubtedly has visions of clinical strikers dancing through his head. As the January transfer window looms large, reports say Fenway Sports Group has made it a priority to bolster the attacking options and get Luis Suarez some much-needed support in front of goal.
There’s no denying Suarez has been on a torrid goal scoring pace this season, currently sitting in third place behind Swansea City’s Michu and Manchester United’s Robin Van Persie for top honors having found the back of the net 10 times in 16 games. The harsh reality remains that Liverpool is one Uruguayan hamstring tear away from having Jonjo Shelvey occupy a central striking role and relying on the likes of Joe Cole going forward. In all fairness to Joe he did find the back of the net last week as the ghosts of Hammers past came back to haunt West Ham, but is he a reliable and consistent option in the final third? According to The Liverpool Echo Brendan Rodgers isn’t so sure , “Is his future here? You would have to ask him that. The guy is still a Liverpool player – and while he’s a Liverpool player, I’ll work as hard as I can with my staff to try to make him the best we possibly can.” At an estimated £90,000 a week in wages Cole is hardly adding value to the club having made only 4 appearances in the Premier League this season, all of them off the bench.
So who will Liverpool bring in to strengthen the side in January and what sort of funds will be made available? That remains to be seen, however in an interview with The Guardian Rodgers was confident that he can bring in the right players for the right price.”It’ll always be the case that I’ll be able to bring in the players of my choice. Obviously there’ll be money available to do that in January. The scouting team are out there now compiling lists and looking at targets that we can hopefully bring in if they are affordable and available. I’m confident of that. Myself and the scouting network are looking at players and whichever one we want to go for, then we will do that.”
While I would obviously love to see the likes of Edinson Cavani in red against Manchester United on January 13th, I think it’s important to be realistic and taper expectations for new signings. The January transfer window has been historically devoid of value, and clubs more often than not are unwilling to part ways with talented players. It’s a fluid situation with new rumors bubbling to the surface daily, but here are four players Liverpool has been linked with recently that are realistic targets.
Shane Long – West Bromwich Albion
Liverpool are thought to be preparing a bid somewhere in the neighborhood of £12million for the Irish international who has been in fine form with 8 goals for The Baggies this season. Rodgers might be keen on linking up with Long who he’s very familiar with from their time together at Reading. Though not the tallest player on the pitch, Long is dominant in the air, showing great awareness and anticipation. He may not have blistering pace but what he lacks in speed he makes up for in technique. In Long Liverpool would be getting another player who’s not afraid to take people on and who can create his own shot. The versatile Irishman can also play on the left or the right and provide great service from the outside, fitting in well with Rodgers’s three man front up top.
Demba Ba – New Castle United
In Demba Ba Liverpool would basically be getting a more athletic version of Andy Carroll. At 6’2 185 lbs. Ba is a physical specimen, strength and blistering pace make him a nightmarish matchup for Premier League center backs. It’s fairly easy to see why Rodgers would be interested in signing Ba, goal scoring prowess in the air and on the ground make the Senegalese Hitman a constant threat and the perfect foil for Luis Suarez. While available for a knockdown £7million due to a clause in his contract Ba won’t come cheap, he’s already turned down a new £70,000-a-week deal from Newcastle. That being said Newcastle certainly isn’t looking to repeat an Andy Carroll transfer that saw the big Geordie leave in the 11th hour on the last day of the transfer window without sufficient time to find a replacement. Look for the syrup drinking striker to make an early exit from Tyneside with Liverpool and Arsenal thought to be the front running suitors.
Daniel Sturridge – Chelsea
Out of all the transfer rumors out there, Daniel Sturridge to Liverpool seems to have the most merit or at least be getting the most media coverage. The Guardian has reported that Liverpool is expected to complete a move for the want-away Chelsea striker within the first week of the transfer window. Out of all the transfer targets mentioned thus far, for me Sturridge is the most technically gifted. He would also bring some much needed guile to a side that often lacks the creativity necessary to unlock a stout and resolute defense.
Sturridge is another player who would fit in well in a wide or central position in Brendan Rodgers’s fluid 4-3-3 system. His versatility will add width and also allow him to drift inside and occupy the space that Luis Suarez creates. It’s not hard to imagine Suarez and Sturridge becoming one of the Premiere League’s most potent attacking duos.
This January I think it’s safe to expect a spate of early deals with less deadline day helicopter stories. Brendan Rodgers has his targets in mind and it’s certainly no secret across the league that Liverpool will be looking to bolster its striking options. With buy-out clauses in place and players keen on taking their talents elsewhere Liverpool will make moves sooner rather than later, especially with a run of games including Manchester United on January 13th, Arsenal on January 30th, and Manchester City on February 3rd.
- Liverpool 1-3 Aston Villa – Current Plight Exposed (lfcboston.wordpress.com)