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The players Liverpool need to keep and sell

Aditya Sheth
ANALYST
Modified 29 Jun 2015
Feature
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Raheem Sterling Liverpool
The Raheem Sterling saga has been grabbing the headlines. But that’s just one of Liverpool’s problems

Coming into the 2014-15 season, Liverpool FC had 3 basic objectives; win a trophy, finish in the top 4 and progress from the Champions’ League group stage. Nobody said it would be easy, especially after the loss of top goal scorer Luis Suarez, but nobody expected the season to be the abject failure it was.

The Merseyside club finished the season trophy-less after somehow managing to blow an F.A. Cup semi-final against Aston Villa; they finished 6th in the league with 62 points, 8 points adrift of the Champions League places and 22 points fewer than their own tally the previous season; and they were relegated to the Europa League by virtue of a 3rd place finish in their first Champions League campaign since 2009.

Most experts place much of the blame (perhaps correctly so) on the poor recruitment work undertaken by the club at the start of the season. While it is impossible to say is who will Liverpool bring in.

With every second player seemingly linked with a summer move to Anfield, we take a look at some of the players on the current roster and what Liverpool should do with them (only those players who have been the subject to transfer speculation are examined).

KEEP

Simon Mignolet 

Perhaps Liverpool’s most improved player, Mignolet had a torrid start to the season culminating in him being dropped from the team. An injury to his replacement Brad Jones saw him reinstated quicker than initially expected.

A large part of Liverpool’s minor revival during the second half of the season was down to Mignolet regaining his own form. Overcoming adversity, Mignolet showed his mental fortitude. Long term perhaps Liverpool will need to look elsewhere but with a lack of viable replacements, it would be a mistake to let the Belgian go.

Dejan Lovren 

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No two words bring more despair to Liverpool fans than Dejan Lovren. The Croatian, signed from Southampton this summer was supposed to be the answer to the red’s defensive problems. Instead, he has looked well out of his depth, qualifying for almost all ‘Worst Signing of the Season’ lists.

Yes, he has not been helped by the lack of defensive cover from the midfield ahead of him but some of his performances this season have been nothing short of woeful. The only reason Lovren should remain at Liverpool is the fact that it will be impossible for the club to recover any significant portion of the reported 20 million pounds they spent on acquiring him from Southampton.

It therefore, seems prudent to keep him for a year in the hope that he can regain a modicum of his Southampton form which could allow Liverpool to sell him for a slightly higher fee thereafter. Make no mistake though; Lovren does not have a long-term future at Anfield.

Lucas Leiva 

Lucas has not played as much as he would have liked for Liverpool over the last few years. Prior to his season ending injury in 2012, Lucas was arguably Liverpool’s best player. After a tough start to life on Merseyside, Lucas put in stellar displays to win over the fans who once booed him.

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Most of Liverpool’s best performances this season came with Lucas shielding the defence. Once he was taken out of the team, the results began to slide again. In a team that clearly lacks mental toughness, Lucas, along with Mignolet, has displayed that in abundance time and again.

With Steven Gerrard leaving, Lucas is also the most experienced player left and it would be prudent to keep him around to help the younger players and help the team when needed.


SELL

Mario Balotelli 

Mario Balotelli Liverpool
Mario Balotelli has not been able to fill the boots of Luis Suarez

The experiment did not work. Balotelli crashed and burned at Liverpool. His statistics make for grim reading and with hardly any highlights to talk about, the hope of Super Mario fulfilling his potential at Liverpool is all but gone.

While his agent claims he is not willing to leave, it is clear the manager does not want him making it difficult to see where he will get his games from. With Liverpool more likely to resort to a 4-3-3, a formation which does not suit the Italian striker, Mario’s days at Anfield are numbered.

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His inability to play without a second striker does not help him. It is hard to see Balotelli stay at Liverpool after the season he has had. Expect the club to do everything they can to get rid of him, if anyone is willing to take him that is.

Joe Allen

It is no secret that Liverpool are looking to bring in a midfielder with Inter Milan player Mateo Kovacic heavily linked. Emre Can is also expected to be deployed more in a central midfield role this season after respectable performances from the German during the last campaign.

With Henderson being named club captain and the arrival of James Milner, Liverpool have an abundance of midfield players. The club will most likely only keep one of Joe Allen and Lucas.

Allen does not offer the defensive protection or leadership that Lucas does. This coupled with the fact that he will command a higher transfer fee than his Brazilian counterpart means selling him would be in the best interest of the club.

Sebastian Coates 

You’d be forgiven for forgetting that Coates is still a Liverpool player. Signed by Kenny Dalglish in the summer of 2011, Coates has made only 12 Liverpool appearances. Much was expected of the Uruguayan who won the Young Player of the Tournament at the 2011 Copa America.

Other than a scissor kick goal against QPR in his debut season, Coates has flattered to deceive. He spent the entirety of last season on loan at Sunderland where he managed only 10 appearances. At 24, it is in Coates’ best interest to leave Liverpool in search of regular football and in the clubs best interest to sell him.

Fabio Borini 

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This is a no-brainer, especially with the arrival of Danny Ings. Borini’s future looks destined to be away from Anfield. Already a fourth choice striker, the signing of Ings has seen him fall further down the pecking order. Liverpool did their best to sell him last season to Sunderland, where he had a successful loan spell, however, Borini wanted to fight for his place at Anfield. It is a fight he lost rather spectacularly.

Rarely used and clearly not trusted, Borini needs to move on for his own sake to try and achieve the potential he promised at a young age. 

Rickie Lambert

A boyhood Liverpool fan, Lambert fulfilled his dream of playing for the reds when he signed from Southampton at the end of last season. It was generally accepted by all that Lambert would be a bit part player, but injuries to Daniel Sturridge meant Lambert was needed more than expected this season. However, his inability to fit into Liverpool’s system has made it clear that he does not have a future at Anfield.

Brendan Rodgers must be wishing that the proposed transfer of Lambert to Villa for approximately 5 million pounds in January had materialized. While that may have fallen through, expect Lambert to leave this summer. There will be no shortage of English clubs wanting to sign a big, tall, classic number 9. Liverpool may even make back all the money they spent on him

Raheem Sterling 

Where to begin with this one? Regarded as one of the best young prospects in European football, Raheem Sterling was expected to be the central figure of the next generation at Liverpool. However, all of that seems to have been dashed over the last 12 months.

Contract disputes, BBC interviews, and a loud mouth agent have alienated Sterling from the club’s fans. While FSG and Rodgers have insisted that Sterling will not leave, a mega offer for Man City with the possibility of acquiring a proven Premier League striker in Eden Dzeko may be too good for Liverpool to turn down.

With Sterling’s mind set on leaving the club, it is perhaps better to cut off all ties and cash in on the player, especially if his sale allows the club to get 2 quality players in.

Published 15 Jun 2015, 16:41 IST
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