A busy summer of transfer window activity is something us Liverpool fans have wished for in the last few years but, ultimately, they have been few and far between. This, of course, can be put down to the horrific running of the club by Messrs Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Fortunately, “internet terrorists” such as you and I watched as an “epic swindle” unfolded before our very eyes which saw Hicks and Gillett finally leave our shores once and for all with Boston Red Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner becoming our new owners. “At the end of a storm, there’s a golden sky”. Thank you John and Tom for playing the part of the golden sky.
The 22nd of May 2011 saw the curtain fall on another compelling season of Premier League action and that date also meant that football fans across the globe began to impatiently wait on news of who their team will be signing for the coming season. “In the knows” have begun to link Liverpool with every player under the sun, safe in the knowledge that the law of averages will ensure they’re right at least once. Well, if you can’t beat them join them! Allow me to reveal an exclusive for you, dear reader. I have it on good authority that Liverpool will NOT be signing Lionel Messi, Lionel Richie or Lionel Blair any time soon. I feel an overwhelming sense of relief now that’s off my chest.
It is important to note that the return of Kenny Dalglish as manager also means a return of ‘The Liverpool Way’. The simple but effective implementing of “pass and move” is small evidence of the philosophy’s return on the pitch but off the pitch it signals a return to all affairs being conducted in private with little chance of details creeping out of the club until all of the I’s have been dotted and all of the T’s have been crossed. I’m sure I’m not the only one who found the ease in which one could find out information about the club shocking under Roy Hodgson’s watch. Whilst it was nice to know the starting line-ups 24 hours before kick-off, it was more shocking than it was nice. In short, don’t believe anyone who claims to be “in the know” because they’re almost certainly not.
Instead of speculating on who we might sign in the coming months, I’ll be focusing on those who should be moved on although some will definitely be up for debate. There is plenty of deadwood in the playing squad so let’s not delay any further.
What has happened to Joe Cole? The imposter we had parading around as him last season bore strikingly little resemblance to the same one who was scoring the winning goal for Chelsea at Old Trafford little over one year ago. I was as excited as anyone when the news broke that Liverpool had secured the signing of Cole on a free transfer after his release from Chelsea. Now, we can see that his début was a sign of things to come and he cannot any longer justify reported wages of £90k per week when he offers so little. Whilst his technical ability has never been in doubt, his proneness to injury and lack of pace and stamina makes him expendable. Rumours have surfaced that Harry Redknapp would be interested in taking him to Tottenham. If true, which I somehow doubt, would Cole offer anything that Luka Modric, Rafael Van der Vaart or even Niko Kranjcar do not currently offer? The short answer is no. Whilst it remains unclear whether or not the Liverpool hierarchy see a future for Cole at the club, I cannot see many Liverpool fans being disappointed at the sight of Cole leaving L4 after just one season. They might, however, be disappointed that Joe Cole never reached the heights that so many had hoped he would.
I would be lying if I told you that I had seen much of Jovanovic prior to his arrival on a free transfer from Belgian side Standard Liege in 2010. As such, I watched Serbia’s matches at the World Cup with more than a passing interest and he seemed to be solid rather than spectacular. The highlight of his World Cup would almost certainly be scoring the winning goal against Germany in the group stage. Jovanovic seemed to posses a fair amount of pace and came to us with a decent goalscoring record of 52 goals in 116 appearances for Standard Liege. Operating primarily as a striker, it was frustrating to see him rarely deployed in this position for Liverpool. He struggled to make an impact when utilised as a left winger and the Serbian was part of the team which lost to Northampton Town in the Carling Cup. Having recently gone on record expressing his regret at signing for Liverpool, I will be astonished if he is still a Liverpool player next season. So astonished will I be, if Milan Jovanovic is still a Liverpool player next season I will erect a life-size statue of Gary Neville in my back garden and kiss its feet on a daily basis.
I have to say that I have been pleasantly surprised with the Greek’s two years as a Liverpool player. His size and aerial prowess instantly made many view him as Sami Hyypia‘s replacement although few expected him to succeed let alone reaching Sami’s level. Well, he didn’t reach Sami’s level (who could?) but that’s not to say he’s been a bad signing. Kyrgiakos was drafted in to the squad mainly as cover for Jamie Carragher, Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger and, more often than not, he’s done well when called upon. However, there have been signs towards the end of the current season which have suggested that Kyrgiakos’ days could be numbered. A lack of pace and agility were brutally highlighted in the away fixture against Braga in the Europa League. Kyriagkos gave away the penalty which the brilliantly named ‘Alan’ dispatched in an even more brilliant manner. It isn’t too unrealistic to imagine Kyrgiakos still being a Liverpool player next season but if another club who could offer him regular first team football showed an interest, I don’t think anyone would stand in his way from moving on.
Any goalkeeper signed by Liverpool has an almost impossible task on his hands in trying to dislodge Pepe Reina as number 1. A quick look back over Brad Jones’ career shows that he seems quite content in being an understudy to someone like Reina. Jones is 29-years-old and he’s only made 99 league appearances in his career. Should he finally fancy a stint as a number 1 somewhere, I’m sure Liverpool will not stand in his way. However, Jones is a “home-grown” player, despite being an Australian international, and if he is content to play second fiddle to Reina there might be a chance he’ll stay but don’t expect Brad Jones to feature often in the starting XI.
Brad Jones is a thoroughly fine man and has campaigned endlessly in a bid to raise money and awareness for Stem Cell transplants. His son, Luca, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia but he appears to have found a match in their bid for a cure. As you can probably tell, I’m more than a little bit out my depth talking about this so click here to visit Brad’s Just Giving page and donate if you can.
I know what you’re thinking. Is Paul Konchesky still a Liverpool player? Unfortunately, yes. I’ll keep this short and sweet as there’s not much to discuss that you don’t already know. Many fans did their best Carlo Ancelotti impressions by raising an eyebrow when Konchesky was signed by Roy Hogdson last summer. There could be no denying that a new left-back was needed, mainly because Emiliano Insua didn’t appear ready to handle the burden of playing week-in, week-out. Hopefully Insua is given another crack at succeeding at Liverpool as there’s definitely potential to be realised there. Konchesky’s position at the club wasn’t helped when his mother took to Facebook to unleash a rage-filled rant at Liverpool fans, branding them “Scouse scum”. It’s nice to know that Mother Konchesky is as good with words as Paul is with a football. An uninspiring loan spell at Nottingham Forest did little to revive Konchesky’s fortunes and it is almost certain that Paul Konchesky will leave Liverpool this summer.
Christian Poulsen came to Liverpool with a fairly big reputation and seemed to be a decent enough replacement for Javier Mascherano. With the benefit of hindsight, such comparisons should never have been made and Poulsen never even came close to playing at the level of Mascherano. Many looked back at Poulsen’s time with Sevilla in Spain with hope as he was instrumental in seeing the Spanish club defend the UEFA Cup as well as helping them win the Copa Del Rey. The emergence of Jay Spearing has pushed Poulsen further down the pecking order and with new signings to look forward to, as well as the possibility of Alberto Aquilani returning from his loan spell at Juventus, Poulsen’s Anfield future appears to be pretty grim. Unfortunately, Poulsen struggled to adapt to the pace of the Premier League and, at the age of 31, he seems to be expendable.
Philipp Degen can be ranked alongside Joe Cole, Milan Jovanovic and Andrey Voronin as a recent free transfer flop. Degen spent last season on loan at Stuttgart and only made 5 appearances in the Bundesliga. I can’t imagine there are too many Stuttgart supporters praying his loan deal is made permanent. Degen has been blighted with injuries throughout his career and his time with Liverpool was no different. Deployed either at right-back or as a winger, Degen never showed anything to suggest he would be anything more than an average squad player. On the handful of appearances he made for the first team he seemed better going forward than he did defending. This doesn’t necessarily mean he was good going forward.
Nabil El Zhar
The diminutive Moroccan winger joined Liverpool in 2006 from French side Nîmes Olympique but, despite making 24 first team appearances, he never genuinely looked like establishing himself as a regular first team player. El Zhar spent last season on loan at Greek side PAOK where he featured 12 times in the league and scored 3 goals. El Zhar’s contract expires in 2012 so there shouldn’t be too many problems in finding a buyer for the French-born Morocco international.
The aforementioned players may not come as much of a shock as outward-bound players so let’s have a look at a few controversial suggestions of players who may move on.
Let me start by saying that I am a massive fan of Fabio Aurelio. Technically, he’s as good as anybody in the league. Some may think that’s hyperbole but I genuinely think he’s a very gifted footballer. Just ask Edwin Van der Sar and Petr Cech how deadly his left foot is! Unfortunately, Aurelio has suffered horrendously with injuries throughout his career, ranging from the broken leg he suffered in the 2003-2004 season with Valencia to the niggling muscle injuries frequently picked up during his time on Merseyside. It was around this time last year that Aurelio left Liverpool after rejecting a pay-as-you-play deal. Aurelio re-signed with the club just weeks later and he still has one year left on his current deal. Perhaps Aurelio will stay one more year but is hard to envisage Aurelio staying around longer than that unless he accepts a pay-as-you-play deal; the type of deal he was previously unwilling to accept. If Aurelio could overcome the constant injuries I’m sure he would become a very important player for Liverpool. Unfortunately, I think Aurelio is destined to spend the majority of his remaining career on the treatment table rather than the hallowed turf of Anfield.
I could copy the above paragraph and just substitute Fabio Aurelio’s name for Daniel Agger’s. Agger is a top-class centre-half who is comfortable on the ball and it is no surprise that Liverpool are better with Agger than they are without him. Agger is the type of player that one would imagine will work well in a Kenny Dalglish side which encourages short passing where attacks are patiently built from the back. You may then question why he’s been included but it boils down to one word; injuries. Since signing for Liverpool from Brondby in 2006, injuries have restricted Agger to 93 league appearances and, whilst that’s not too bad, it’s not brilliant either. The centre-half position is one where, ideally, constant disruptions are unwelcome. The best sides are usually the ones which have had a settled partnership in the heart of the defence. Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have been as good a partnership as any in recent years and their settled partnership is one of the key factors behind Manchester United’s success. If we delve a little further back in time it won’t be long before we stumble across Arrigo Sacchi’s incredible AC Milan teams of the 1980s. It should come as no surprise that a significant contributing factor to Milan’s success was their excellent defence. Their remarkable defensive capabilities were demonstrated at their best during the 1987-1988 season where they conceded just 14 goals in the entire campaign.
If Daniel Agger’s injury problems are behind him I sincerely hope he is still a Liverpool player when the transfer window shuts on the 1st of September 2011. However, if a big offer was made for him whilst question marks about his fitness still loomed large, it would be reasonable to strongly consider such a bid and use the funds to sign a centre-half who is capable of featuring on a regular basis.
Of course, I’m joking. No need to berate me in the comment section!Follow @markjepson