Liverpool transfers: Five players the Reds should sign in January
Harry Reardon considers the gaps that Brendan Rodgers needs to plug in his Liverpool side in the New Year
It can be a very tricky thing for a goalkeeper to move from a club scrapping in the lower reaches of the league to one threatening the top. In most other positions on the field, a player’s role would be similar at both clubs, but a goalkeeper for a struggling side must above all be a shot-stopper, while towards the higher echelons, the buzzwords become concentration and command. Simon Mignolet has not disgraced himself in a Liverpool shirt, but he has no experience at a club which is always expected to win, and accordingly has not projected the authority which such an outfit demands. Petr Cech, one suspects, will have a significant number of suitors in January if he remains out of the Chelsea team. He would be such a good fit for the Reds, though, that Brendan Rodgers should be looking to break the bank.
If the lapses running through the Liverpool defence cannot be sorted out between Dejan Lovren and Mignolet (or for that matter Cech), then they need a more commanding centre back. Naldo has been consistently impressive for Werder Bremen and Wolfsburg over the past few seasons, and at 32, has the experience to take control of the Reds’ back line. He can also pop up with a goal or two. It may prove difficult to prise him away from Germany, where he has been based for nearly a decade and where he is looking to take citizenship, but if the lure of Anfield proves enough, Brendan Rodgers can expect a solid and reliable performer.
If Brendan Rodgers does not appear to entirely trust Lucas Leiva – and the Brazilian’s Liverpool appearances have tailed off – he cannot expect a combination of Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson to screen the back four. The Northern Irishman could look to Emre Can to shore things up, but from his recent comments after Can’s early appearances for the Reds, he seems to see the German as more of a utility player. At Real Madrid, meanwhile, Sami Khedira has seen his playing time disappear, and his contract expires at the end of the season. Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has been at pains to stress that Khedira will not leave until June (if at all), but an offer of £10m or above would surely be tempting.
Alternatively, if Liverpool cannot convince Khedira to sign, or for that matter Real Madrid to let him go, they could do a lot worse than look to his 23-year-old countryman Christoph Kramer. The man who replaced Khedira in the World Cup Final starting line-up before being forced off in the first half through concussion has been a stand-out player for Borussia Mönchengladbach this season, with high tackle and interception rates as well as a passing accuracy of over 90%, and his Bayer Leverkusen contract (he is currently on loan to Gladbach) is due to expire next summer. Like Khedira, though, it is difficult to imagine that Liverpool would not face stiff competition for his signature.
If Brendan Rodgers is losing patience with Mario Balotelli – and who would blame him? – then things need to change sooner rather than later. Daniel Sturridge should improve the Liverpool team once he returns from injury, but the Reds’ success last year was founded on a three-pronged attack which never gave opponents a moment’s peace, and Rodgers would be well-advised to splash the cash in an effort to bring back that approach. Liverpool were linked with Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette in the summer, but a move never came to fruition. The young Frenchman, whose fast and direct style would fit in well at Anfield, has scored ten goals in 12 games for Lyon this season (including six in his last four) as well as claiming four assists, and it is surely only a matter of time before he makes the leap to a truly top-level club.