Liverpool have lurched around aimlessly in the transfer market for a few years now. They have swung from the La Liga based recruiting of Rafa Benitez to the domestic/awful signings of Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish/Damien Comolli and now on to Brendan Rodgers who is signing players he has worked with or younger technical players. Over the last few years, they can only defend the signing of Luis Suarez and the budding Philippe Coutinho. They’ve wasted an awful amount of money on dross, or more precisely, players who can’t possibly win them the Premier League. They’ve lost some of their lustre as an attraction to players so they seem to be shopping in that band below the elite players. They’ve spent a ton of money, and keep doing so though, so there could be some available again. So baring in mind Rodgers’ preferences and the club’s needs, here’s who they could be looking to sign.
Lars Bender – Bayer Leverkusen
Scout Report – Bender is a colossal presence in the middle of midfield. He has tigerish tenacity and a dynamic and ceaseless work rate. He operates best when able to get about the entire midfield, roaming around looking to cause havoc. He is able to be deployed as a shielding midfielder if needs be. Capable of tackling, intercepting and of solid passing, he is only 23 with plenty of room to improve. Brother Sven is tearing up trees at Borussia Dortmund.
Where does he fit? – With the constant injury problems surrounding Lucas Leiva, Liverpool have at times looked lightweight in midfield. Joe Allen is more of a passer where Jordan Henderson prefers getting forward. Bender would offer something entirely different, and entirely needed. Rodgers can put him in to a two deep midfield or with more roaming license in a three-man system and watch him wreck opposition attacks. Rodgers might feel he can smooth off the rough edges and turn him in to a complete player.
How much? – A lot, maybe even over £20m. But for that, they’re getting a guy they can put straight in and build the midfield around.
Ashley Williams – Swansea
Scout Report – Williams is the captain and central defensive lynchpin of the Swansea side that has garnered such good reviews. He has adapted seamlessly to the rigours of the Premier League having been with the club throughout their rise up the leagues. Williams is strong, good in the air and tidy on the ball. He is an excellent communicator and plays with a rugged authority and assuredness.
Where does he fit? – Liverpool need to sort out their central defence. Rodgers doesn’t seem to rate the rapidly regressed Martin Skrtel and the one leader and strong communicator back there is the retiring Jamie Carragher. Replacing Carragher simply has to be Rodgers’ priority this summer. Williams knows Rodgers’ system and can come in and lead a quiet defence. Rodgers knows him well and might be tempted to dip back in to the Swansea pool.
How much? – This will be an interesting summer for Swansea with so many of their players desired elsewhere. They might feel Williams easier to replace than Michu so could be open to offers around £7-8m for their skipper.
Leonardo Bittencourt – Borussia Dortmund
Scout Report – An opulently talented floating attacker, the 19-year-old Bittencourt is a big prospect for Borussia Dortmund. He is possessed of sublime technical qualities and is a ghosting, elusive runner. He is just breaking in to the Dortmund first team picture.
Where does he fit? – This would be a similar signing to the move for Coutinho, plucking a technically accomplished player who is on the fringes of the first team a big club. Bittencourt could play in the position currently occupied by Stewart Downing or even be groomed to play further back as Steven Gerrard’s long-term successor. Rodgers will feel his coaching abilities can develop him further.
How much? – Not quite as much as Coutinho as he has less first team experience but probably in the £6m region.
Scott Sinclair – Manchester City
Scout Report – It’s easy to forget why City signed Sinclair as he has become synonymous with their bench. Last season, Sinclair was Swansea’s leading attacking threat and was showing signs of blossoming in the talent he promised to be when he was a teenage hotshot. He has great pace and a very direct playing style. He isn’t afraid to dribble straight at defenders and give them things to worry about. He also got his fair share of goals and assists at Swansea.
Where does he fit? – Rodgers knows exactly what Sinclair offers. He likes players that can dribble and get a shot away as can be seen with his captures of Coutinho and Sturridge in January. He would offer real pace and directness and could play on the right of the three attacking midfielders. Liverpool need Suarez to keep nearer the goal and Sinclair would offer the natural width that Suarez sometimes tries to force.
How much? – If Mancini stays at City then it’s hard to see a future for Sinclair in Manchester. A break even £7m or probably even less would be good for both sides.
Nicolas N’Koulou – Marseille
Scout Report N’Koulou is a quick and immensely strong central defender. At only 22 he is regarded in France as one of the elite defensive prospects in the country. Already a fixture in the Cameroon national team, he is a defender first, footballer second. Great positional sense and ability to block shots.
Where does he fit? – The impending Liverpool defensive chasm caused by the retirement of Carragher has to be filled, and N’Koulou is a great option to achieve that. N’Koulou is the kind of rough diamond that should appeal to Rodgers who will surely believe he can coach him up in to one of the top defenders in the league. He is young enough as to fit their usual age requirements can fill the rugged defender spot in Rodgers’ tactical plans.
How much? – Around about £10m but he could be worth double that in a year’s time.