Plenty of work was done over the four week period in January, with Premier League chairmen spending over £117m on new talent to bolster their clubs’ chances of success.
The biggest net spenders this January were QPR. Bankrolled by flamboyant chairman Tony Fernandes, the West London club spent over £22m as Harry Redknapp bids to keep Rangers in the Premier League come May.
Newcastle United added the most in terms of numbers to their squad. Following a frugal summer in the North-East, chairman Mike Ashley loosened the purse strings allowing allow Alan Pardew to tap the Ligue 1 market to all but exhaustion.
Heading into January there was plenty of debate amongst Liverpool fans as to whether the window would prove a successful time for the Anfield club or whether it would prove to be something of a damp squib, along the lines of last summer. Would FSG step up and back Rodgers, would we land our targets, or would we once again be left cursing a brittle transfer policy and a beleaguered looking Ian Ayre?
Thankfully, Ian Ayre, Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool FC enjoyed a fruitful window. FSG did step up and back their man, providing over £20m in transfer funds which made the club the second highest net spenders. At the same time, Ian Ayre and the negotiating team managed to tie down the club’s targets and secure what looks to be value for money by refusing to be pushed into increasing bids in the face of mounting pressure to do so.
Sturridge arrived at Anfield early in the window and has gone a long way towards proving that his £12m price tag will turn out to be a bargain. Debut goals, both in the FA Cup and in the Premier League at Manchester United, have been followed up by two goals in four matches since. He’s added pace and strength to the front line, has great movement, looks to be a natural goalscorer and has already developed a great understanding with fellow front man Luis Suarez.
Sturridge has arrived at Anfield with plenty to prove after failing to live up to his potential at other clubs for one reason or another. Manager Brendan Rodgers claimed that LFC is Sturridge’s final chance to become the player he should be and, so far, he’s grasped the nettle of opportunity fearlessly.
What is known is that he was regarded as one of the brightest prospects to emerge from Brazil when Inter signed him at just sixteen years old. He is young, only 20, has great pace over short distances and is a mesmeric dribbler of the ball. He’s got goals in him too, finding the back of the net with a degree of frequency in La Liga, and he’s got prowess from set-pieces.
Coutinho reportedly has the ability to play in the number 10 role behind the striker or as part of a front three and, although handed the number 10 shirt, it seems more likely that he will begin his Liverpool career playing in one of the wider positions in the front three.
Coutinho, like Sturridge has arrived on Merseyside with something to prove. As mentioned above, he was held in very high esteem; Leonardo compared him favourably with Oscar, Rafa Benitez called him ‘the future of Inter Milan’ during his time in charge at the San Siro. However things didn’t work out for Coutinho at Inter (perhaps a victim of the turmoil that has beset the club since their treble winning season) and he comes to England having failed to become a regular first team fixture, despite impressing during a six month loan spell at Espanyol.
Should Coutinho follow Sturridge’s lead and settle into life at Liverpool easily, the prospect of seeing this young, flamboyant talent prosper in front of our eyes is mouthwatering. Of course, he’ll take time to adapt and acclimatise not only to the league but also to the environment and the culture.
For this reason, we may have to be patient, it may not be until next season and beyond that we see the best of the Brazilian but with a strong Latin contingent at the club already, hopefully the transition will go as smoothly as possible.
One thing is for certain, the signing of Coutinho, along with that of Sturridge makes Liverpool into a much more threatening proposition for the run in.
You can catch up with Neil on Twitter @Neil1980 and on his blog http://itsallinthegameblog.wordpress.com/