Save our season

With Liverpool showing more emphatically than most that signings can make or break seasons, takes a look at who could turn their season on its head and rescue some pride after an uninspiring start

RodgersGerrard

iBusiness Lines

It’s nothing new to point out that Liverpool have been struggling this season. Having propelled themselves into the top four last season, the Reds have failed to make a similar impact this year. Under manager Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool have never been capable of boasting a stunning defensive display but were able to play some world-class attacking football, scoring 101 goals in the Premier League last season. However, with the departure of their talismanic striker Luis Suarez and with Daniel Sturridge out injured, it seems Rodgers will need some reinforcements in January if he wants to save Liverpool’s season.

During last summer’s transfer window, Liverpool only spent £107million on players who would join their squad immediately which, compared to the £65million they received from the sale of Suarez to Barcelona, is extremely minimal. Historically, we have seen Chelsea and Manchester City spend big to attain some of the best talent around and looking to the top of the table now, this has clearly paid off. More recently, Louis Van Gaal spent around £146million on big name players such as Angel Di Maria and Falcao. So the solution to Liverpool’s woes? It’s simple – spend. Although, Liverpool do not need to break the bank, they will need splash their cash on some marquee signings.

Here are my top 3 players that could save Liverpool’s season…

Christian Benteke

Liverpool are looking extremely weak up front, scoring only 21 times in the Premier League this season. Rodgers has brought in the likes of Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli but neither have reached the heights that were expected, forcing Rodgers to deploy Raheem Sterling as a striker. Lambert, to be fair, has not started as many games as he would have liked which in turn has hindered his goal-scoring form, especially given that his game is largely dependent on rhythm and developing some sort of form.

While, Balotelli initially enjoyed a promising start to his career at the Kop, playing well alongside Daniel Sturridge at the beginning of the season. But since, Balotelli has looked less than ‘super’. Similarly, Fabio Borini has failed to maintain a regular starting place, spending much of his time on the periphery.

On the other hand, Benteke has the pace, power and track-record in the Premier League to kickstart Liverpool’s campaign. The Villa striker is always looking to make runs and is familiar with counter-attacking football both at club and international level, making him a perfect fit for Rodgers’ side. Although, he has been struggling with injury this season, Benteke has started to reach the form that secured him 35 goals in 69 appearances over the last two seasons. Moreover, at the young age of 23 and with Aston Villa goalkeeper Shay Given claiming Benteke is already at ‘Champions League level’, he is clearly an investment worth making.  The purchase of Benteke could easily be funded by the sale of Borini to Sunderland, who were rumoured to have bid £14 million for the Italian last summer.

Joao Moutinho

Liverpool have also been struggling in midfield this season. Without buying any first-team midfielders in the summer, ever mounting pressure has been put on club captain and veteran Steven Gerrard who is having to be rested given his advancing years. With Gerrard seemingly coming to the end of his career, Liverpool fans have been left pondering who will replace their Captain Fantastic. Joe Allen, Jordan Henderson and Lucas Levia don’t exactly fit the bill and have been criticised for their performances this season. The falling apart of Liverpool’s midfield seems to have built up over-time with the Reds not significantly strengthening in the middle of the park over the past few years. The current quality and standard of Liverpool’s midfield is not fundamentally superior to that of a few seasons ago, with then manager Kenny Dalglish focussed on rearing ‘the best of the British’ which notably led to Jay Spearing and Stuart Downing becoming regular starters.

In order to inject some real class into their midfield, Liverpool need look only a little further afield to France’s Ligue 1. Monaco have been off-loading big name players in order to reduce their wage bill – perhaps something to do with club owner Dmitry Rybolovlev’s £2.7 billion divorce. With Monaco looking to balance their books, they have allowed their star players, Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez, to depart the Stade Louis II and similarly, they are likely to listen to offers for midfielder Moutinho. With Monaco sitting fifth in the French league, Moutinho may be eyeing a big-money move to the Premier League. Moutinho, having taken Monaco to the round of 16 in this season’s Champions League has shown that he is very much a modern day footballer, able to play in a defensive and advanced positions and has also been recognised for his passing ability and movement since his time at Porto. Moutinho is not a player that will need time to adjust to the rigors of the Premier League, having proven himself internationally and in a variety of domestic leagues across Europe. Purchasing Moutinho from Monaco in January would not only be a great bit of business, but is also a very realistic possibility.

Guillermo Ochoa

Perhaps more surprisingly is Liverpool’s problems in goal. When Liverpool bought Simon Mignolet from Sunderland he was Belgium’s first choice keeper ahead of Courtois, but now Mignotlet is struggling to make Liverpool’s starting eleven with Brendan Rodgers claiming he has been dropped ‘indefinitely’. Maybe this is a mere motivational technique similar to when Pellegrini dropped Joe Hart for Costel Pantilimon last season. Nonetheless, Brad Jones is a reserve goalkeeper – not the sort of goalkeeper that should every match for Liverpool. Jones has looked shaky to say the least in his last few games, making big mistakes against Manchester United.

The player to solve Liverpool’s problem between the sticks? None other than Ochoa, who notably won man of the match for Mexico against Brazil and the Netherlands at the 2014 World Cup. Along with Keylor Navas, Ochoa was able to stake his claim as a potentially world class goalkeeper during his outstanding performances for Mexico at the World Cup. Ochoa was even linked with a summer move to Arsenal, however interest in him from Europe’s top clubs has since simmered down following his move to Málaga. The Premier League is a great platform for the best footballers to prove themselves and is definitely an attraction for goalkeepers. Ochoa is a proven shot-stopper and would provide much needed stability in goal for Liverpool.

So, there are my top 3 players to save Liverpool’s season. Sporting Director Ian Ayre and Manager Brendan Rodgers don’t necessarily need to spend big, but do need to spend well. Bringing in some of the players above will ensure that Liverpool are able to salvage something from their campaign this season and restore their reputation as a top Premier League team.

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