It’s no secret that Liverpool is in a huge amount of debt and this has obviously meant that star players have been linked with moves away. New boss Roy Hodgson has said publically that he has no intention of selling Torres or Gerrard. But what if he did? Being realistic here, Gerrard would command around £30m and Torres £50m. £80m for two players, not a bad bit of business. But why sell them and where do you spend the money?
As I write this Gerrard has given his biggest hint yet that he is going to stay on but for me the time has come for him to move away. He will go down as a legend at Anfield and rightly so, but this past season he mailed in performances and looked disinterested. This may have been down to his disillusionment with Benitez for sure, but a lack of Champions League football and no realistic chance of winning the title this season mean that Gerrard could go his entire career without a league winners medal. A move to Madrid, which has been touted around, would make most sense given the calibre of the new boss there. As for Torres if Liverpool get offered £50m for a guy who has serious injury problems then they should grab it. Torres is world class, there is no doubt about it, but he is no good to Liverpool on the bench. The problem is that Hodgson would realistically only get £40m of the Gerrard and Torres money to spend.
The signing of one of English football’s most creative players in Joe Cole is certainly a step in the right direction for Liverpool. It is certainly not like me to praise those on the red side of Stanley Park, but I have a feeling they may have got one of the deals of the summer here. Granted he is coming off the back of a long term injury, but he is only in his late twenties and has a whole lot to offer any team. Where Liverpool struggled in part last season was a creative outlet to create scoring opportunities for Torres and dare I say it Ngog. Cole should be the man to unlock the door.
So what to do with £40m?
They are no longer in position to sign the best players like they were 30 years ago when Keegan moved on and was replaced by Dalglish, or 20 years ago when Rush was sold and replaced by Aldridge. So they have to buy smart in order to upgrade their squad.
Defensively only Chelsea and United conceded less goals than Liverpool last year but a lot of that can be put down to the form of Reina. Looking at their squad there isn’t a standout player for me in that defence. Carragher was destroyed by Jozy Altidore in the World Cup and will add another year to his already slowing carcass this season, whilst they haven’t had a good enough left back in a long time. Seeing the form of Stephen Warnock at Villa last season must have had a few people wondering why he had been let go so early in his Anfield career. I would look at Hangeland from Fulham who would be available for around £10m to sure up the centre of the defence. At left back they could do worse than to take a punt on the Mexican left back Salcido who had a very impressive World Cup. The PSV defender would cost at a guess around £5m.
The midfield looks surprisingly healthy even if you discount Gerrard from the mix. The most successful teams in the World Cup showed that two holding midfielders can be used to free up other attacking options. With Mascherano and Aqulani Liverpool have that already and this would enable Joe Cole to have free reign behind the striker. And I know he is very, very average at best but Lucas can serve as a back up to these two.
If you go with Cole supporting a striker that leaves two spots out wide and one up front. Ryan Babel has proven that he has got the ability to so I would give him one last chance and look to Alexis Sanchez from Udinese on the wing and Roman Pavlyuchenko up front. Sanchez had a fantastic World Cup and showed that he had the pace to threaten any team on the break, whilst Pavlyuchenko has shown that he is a natural goal scorer who will take chances when given them. These two could both be acquired for £25m.
So there you have it. A line up that would look something like this:
Subs: Kuyt, Lucas, Maxi, Carragher, Ngog, Jovanovic, Diego(GK)
You may look at the team above and think that this is not a side that is going to win the title and you’d be right, but for Liverpool this season a top four spot is the aim. If Hodgson does happen to agree with me then this team can achieve that, I just hope he isn’t reading.