Now that the transfer window has closed for another four months, lets take a look at Liverpool’s dealings. Regular readers will know I tend to focus on the positive, but hopefully the below provides a balanced view on the various deals that have taken place at Anfield this summer.
Fabio Borini – He scored far more regularly (every 122 minutes) than any Liverpool player did last season (Maxi topped the Red rankings with one every 203 minutes), despite mostly starting on the bench, and in a more defensive league. At this point he is unproven at the top-level in England, but he certainly seems to have potential and has worked with Rodgers before, which should help him settle.
Joe Allen – Completed 91% of his passes last season. In 36 appearances, his passing accuracy never dropped lower than 80%, and was only below 85% on three occasions. This boy loves the ball, and should ensure that Liverpool are far less porous in midfield than they often were last season. Even at £15m, he looks a bargain, and it’s hard to think of any potential downside to this signing.
Oussama Assaidi – The 24-year-old Moroccan has bagged 19 goals in 49 league starts in the last two seasons for Heerenveen, which is an impressive return from the wing. Obviously many players have done well in Holland only to fail to step up to the mark in the Premier League, but at around £2.4m, he appears a low risk purchase, and Liverpool did well to nip in ahead of Ajax to secure his signature.
Nuri Sahin – Although he missed virtually the entire 2011/12 season through injury, he was the player of the year in Germany in 2010/11 (making more key passes than any player in England did last season), so Sahin certainly should turn out to be a decent acquisition. As he is only on Merseyside on loan, it seems to be another low risk deal, as if he fails to settle or is injured again then Liverpool are not obliged to keep him beyond the one season.
Samed Yesil – Another low-risk purchase, at only £1m. He shouldn’t be expected to make too much impact in 2012/13, but by scoring six goals at the under-17 World Cup in 2011, he certainly demonstrated the potential that the Reds will hope to exploit in years to come.
Alberto Aquilani – A player of undoubted ability who never got going at Anfield. Maybe he never really wanted to, and injuries certainly played their part, but even in his limited pitch time in 2009/10 he registered six assists for Liverpool, and only Gerrard and Kuyt have been able to beat that for the Reds in the last four seasons. A case of ‘what might have been’, in my opinion.
Dirk Kuyt – My full tribute to Kuyt can be read here, so for now I’ll just say that his record of a goal every four games (71 scored in 285 appearances) will not be easy to replace, and I believe he remains underrated outside of the Liverpool fanbase.
Maxi Rodriguez – As well as being the Reds most frequent scorer, he also ranked joint top for final third passing accuracy, and scored the highest percentage of his clear-cut chances of any Liverpool player who attempted to convert more than three. Why a clever, incisive player like Maxi was frequently omitted last season will always puzzle me, as he possessed a lot of the attributes that the Reds frequently lacked. It’s easy to see why Rodgers supposedly wanted him to stay, and we wish the Argentine well at Newell’s Old Boys.
Craig Bellamy – His iffy knees mean he can never be relied upon to play week after week, but much like Maxi, when he did get on the pitch he tended to make a difference last season. It’s impossible to begrudge a man wanting to return to his home town to be closer to his kids, but he possesses a combination of nous and fight that Liverpool might lack this season.
Jay Spearing – Whilst I think Jay is a Premier League standard player, he isn’t good enough to replace Lucas when he is absent, as both this article, and the second half of last season demonstrated. Having gone to Bolton on loan, he may be back in due course, but I think a permanent sale would have been better for all concerned, to enable Spearing to get on with his career at a more suitable level.
Charlie Adam – The Scotsman is a lethal blend of football ability and football stupidity. He played the joint-fifth most accurate through balls per game in the Premier League last season, and got more assists from set-pieces than entire Liverpool squads have in recent seasons. But his poor tackling lead to him to commit the joint-fifth most fouls per game in the division, and the unfortunate Lucas picked up five bookings in record time in having to repeatedly cover for the absent Adam. He did bring something to Liverpool last season, but the majority of it won’t be missed.
Andy Carroll – I have repeatedly defended the Geordie striker, mainly on the basis that he hasn’t had a fair crack of the whip at Anfield, due to a combination of being injured when he first joined, and his strengths not being played to as they were at Newcastle once he was fit. The decision to loan him out to West Ham initially appeared to make a lot of sense; Rodgers obviously doesn’t rate him, and Big Sam’s tactics will ensure he scores goals. However, once it became clear that Clint Dempsey would not be joining the Rodgers revolution, it suddenly seemed madness to let Carroll go, as Liverpool were left short of numbers up front.
Overall, Liverpool have traded in young, hungry players with potential in exchange for losing (mostly) aging players on big money, and I’m confident that the majority of the incoming players will prove to be shrewd acquisitions.
But by letting Carroll go without guaranteeing a replacement, the club appear to have left themselves short of goals (which was the primary problem for the Reds last season), and any injury to Luis Suárez would prove to be cataclysmic.
Whilst Carroll himself only scored four league goals last season, the fact is that the current Liverpool squad only bagged 28 Premier League goals between them last season. The new players, and most notably the fairly unproven 21-year-old Fabio Borini, will need to hit the ground running at Anfield.
The club’s stance to not pay over-the-odds for a 29-year-old (Dempsey) is ultimately to be applauded, but at this point there seems to be more questions than answers regarding Liverpool’s transfer window. And not for the first time in recent years, either.
How many more players do you need, Brendan?
Statistics are for Premier League games only, and were sourced from EPLIndex and WhoScored. Please take a look at my other articles, a list of which can be found here. You can follow me on Twitter here.