Luis Suarez aside, Liverpool have failed to accomplish this feat since Rafa Benitez left the club and now this challenge is Brendan Rodgers’ responsibility.
Two players who currently play for Champions League clubs have been repeatedly linked with Liverpool and while neither is the finished article, both players have qualities that Liverpool are in desperate need of. They are of course, Daniel Sturridge and Theo Walcott, and right now they are probably the best options that Liverpool have in the forthcoming January transfer window. The potential addition of the pair of England forwards seems possible and is exciting, but can Brendan Rodgers get them to Anfield?
Walcott has had as many downs as ups at Arsenal over the past 6 years and frustratingly for the Gunners, remains a work in progress. Sturridge meanwhile, has found his opportunities to be limited during his entire time at Chelsea, barring a brief fruitful spell under Andre Villas-Boas. So should Liverpool really be looking to shell out upwards of £25m on the two England internationals? Undoubtedly, yes.
The main flaw in the current squad at Anfield is plainly obvious to even the casual football observer: Liverpool lack goals. There is no doubting that Walcott and Sturridge can offer a solution in this respect. Both have got decent returns for their clubs when given a run in their respective club sides and both offer a greater goal return than the likes of the inexperienced Suso and Raheem Sterling who have played in attacking roles for the Reds this season.
When you throw in the fact that both Walcott and Sturridge seem attainable targets for the Reds, neither will require a ‘settling in period’ to the Premier League, that they each are yet to enter their prime years as footballers and therefore both offer decent ‘sell on value’ unlike Stewart Downing or Andy Carroll, it seems fairly open and shut as to whether Liverpool should look to push the boat out for them. However, there is one main obstacle that stands in the way of Brendan Rodgers outside of potential wage demands and transfer fees: both players prefer to play in the position currently occupied by Luis Suarez.
Walcott and Sturridge have made no secret of their desire to play as central strikers for their London based sides and have grown frustrated at their lack of opportunities to lead the line for their teams. Without wanting to sound harsh, the notion of shifting Suarez out to a wider position to accommodate Sturridge or Walcott is simply not going to happen should they join the ranks at Anfield.
Suarez is the leading goalscorer in the Premier League right now and is playing the best football in his time in England. Why would Rodgers want to risk anything where the Uruguayan is concerned? He could play wide in a front three of course, but his manager’s recent comments indicate that he is more concerned with increasing his side’s goal output from other positions on the field, namely the wide forward berths. If Suarez ain’t broke, don’t switch him.
Assuming that Liverpool’s reported interest in the English pair is genuine (it certainly seems to be), then it would seem that Rodgers must find a way of convincing the two young forwards that they can both flourish at Anfield, even if they are not guaranteed to play centrally every game. Walcott and Sturridge can both occupy any of the three forward positions that Rodgers uses in his preferred 4-3-3 system and while neither player is world class (right now, at least), adding them to a group of forward players that already includes Luis Suarez, Fabio Borini, and Raheem Sterling would be an exciting proposition.
Flexibility would be at Rodgers disposal and the depth that that group would have on paper is extremely enticing. The manager would essentially have five international players who can all play centrally or wide to good effect, and even rotate during games. It would be a collection of forwards that, on paper, would outdo any that Liverpool have had since Gerard Houllier had Fowler, Heskey, Owen and Litmanen in his ranks.
If Rodgers is able to convince Sturridge and Walcott that they will be afforded to start games or rotate in games, in a central position often enough to satisfy them and make it clear that as wide forwards they would both be invaluable, then Liverpool could have two excellent additions this January, that would potentially add the much needed knock out power to the side in the form of goals. Sturridge scored a lot of goals from a wide right position under Villas-Boas and Walcott this season has netted ten times, mainly from a similar position for Arsenal. If they had been flanking Luis Suarez this season instead of players like Sterling, Enrique and Suso, Liverpool would probably be a lot higher up the table.
Front players these days have to be flexible and able to occupy various positions on the field (ask Luis Suarez who often plays in a wide position for his country despite his incredible talent and reputation as a central forward) and if Brendan Rodgers can persuade Walcott and Sturridge to embrace their versatility and snap them up this January then Liverpool’s lack of goals may be a thing of the past.
If Liverpool are serious about getting back into the Champions League as soon as possible then they must act this January. Two obvious and attainable targets are out there waiting to be snapped up. It is imperative that Liverpool strike immediately.
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