THE international break is a frustrating time for football fans. Interest in international football is limited, for the vast majority of us, to the World Cup, the Euros and perhaps the Copa America and AFCON. These tournaments are where international football comes alive and all of us can take an interest (even if, on a personal level, I could live to be 100 and still likely never see N. Ireland qualify for another major tournament).
National allegiances to one side, the break creates a vacuum of relevant club football news. Papers, unable to fill pages with their usual match reports and reaction pieces, scramble around for transfer “scoops” with which to keep their readers’ attention.
This article will have a look at a few such stories concerning Liverpool FC which have been doing the rounds this past couple of weeks.
The number one transfer tale at the moment is, of course, centred around LFC’s very own magical Uruguayan – Luis Suarez. Many news outlets, including the Guardian, have yet again rushed to fill the football void by whipping up stories of a possible Suarez departure this summer. Juventus and Bayern Munich are the clubs cited to be “leading the chase”, with a potential fee of £40m being touted.
Suarez himself was apparently quoted in a Uruguayan newspaper appearing to hint at a move away from Anfield, however the no. 7 quickly went on Uruguayan radio to refute the rumours and make clear that his words had been “twisted”.
There’s always smoke when Suarez opens his mouth; journalists the world over rightly recognise him as the most exciting man in the Premier League; the man guaranteed to sell papers and get people talking. From where I’m standing these rumours regarding Juve and Bayern have merely been rehashed and repackaged. There’s nothing new here and it wouldn’t appear to be a cause for concern.
Suarez, for his part, has again reaffirmed his commitment to the club, the city and the fans. International colleague Edinson Cavani has backed up Suarez’s wish to remain at Liverpool beyond this summer by stating that Suarez wants to play in the Champions League, but for Liverpool and that he doesn’t expect his compatriot to leave this summer. A fee of £40m is unlikely to come close to the club’s valuation of him, with reports that the Uruguayan’s contract contains a release clause for the said amount surely wide of the mark.
Whilst fans will have to put up with constant speculation regarding their star player, they can rest easy for now, safe in the knowledge that Suarez continues to show a loyalty and a love for LFC.
A move for Ashley Williams, the Swansea centre-half, has arisen as another big story during the lull. This story seemed like another prime example of the lazy journalism when it first popped up, however it just won’t go away.
Williams has been a star performer for Swansea in their 18 months back in the top division and is well known to Brendan Rodgers. He’s a proven Premier League player and, with Liverpool in dire need of a commanding centre-back or two, the papers are convinced that Rodgers will look to bring Williams in this summer.
On the surface, this seems like a sensible move, however I can’t help feeling it’d be a mistake. I don’t like it when managers raid their former clubs for talent, especially when those clubs are historically weaker than their present side. Rodgers has already picked up two former Swans in Borini and Allen, neither of whom have had particularly effective first season’s in Red. A move for Williams may just serve to further arm the doubters unnecessarily.
Undoubtedly Williams is a decent centre-back, but he’s never had the pressure of playing for a big club, nor in Europe and at 28 yrs old, there are better options out there for the likely £8m+ price tag.
Players like Kyriagos Papadopoulos of Schalke, a defender that Rodgers admires according to reports. The centre-back played a key part in Schalke’s advancement to the quarter-finals of the Europa League and their fourth place Bundesliga finish last season, whilst forming the bedrock of the Greek defence that was so vital in their qualification for Euro 2012. At 21, Papadopoulos looks to have a magnificent future in front of him; the only real concern, his injury record.
Two other centre-backs to be linked in recent days have been the highly rated young Brazilian Dede, currently playing with Vasco de Gama and River Plate’s young Argentinean German Pezzella. Dede is set to star in Brazil’s 2014 World Cup team, with the Mirror claiming that Liverpool have established a good relationship with the investment company that owns half of his rights.
One not to be overlooked should be Fulham’s Brede Hangeland. Available on a free in the summer, Hangeland may not be the most cultured of defenders in a footballing sense, however he is proven, reliable, honest and commanding – certainly a player who’d add to Liverpool’s paucity of options in that area.
Ajaccio’s Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa remains linked with a move to Anfield as a back-up for Pepe Reina. On the surface this seems like a good move; Ochoa is a solid keeper with good international experience and would provide excellent back-up with a view to taking over in three or four seasons.
Finally, the latest rumour to hit the streets is LFC’s reported interest in Andreas Weimann. The Villa forward, very highly thought of at Villa Park has only 12 months left on his current deal and seems set to leave Villa Park in the summer, having rejected two contract offers from the club. Reports in Austria, Weimann’s homeland, backed up by the, oh so unreliable Metro here in the UK, have claimed that Liverpool are being “kept informed” about the situation and hope to snap him up for £5m.
If true, this wouldn’t be a bad move in my eyes. Weimann is only 21 and has been regarded as Villa’s next great hope for several years. His partnership with Christian Benteke has been somewhat of a revelation at Villa Park this season, with the young Austrian bagging 11 goals in 23 starts in all competitions (6 in 18 in the Premier League). Weimann is quick and direct and can play across the front three; he’s young, hard-working and hungry – fitting Rodgers’s player profile. If he can be snapped up for a fee of as low as £5m, then Weimann would represent value for money, adding further strength in depth to the squad.
So, these are the main Liverpool transfer stories which have been doing the rounds over the international break. This article has provided my take on these rumours, of which there will be many more as the season approaches its climax. As ever, we are unaware of how much truth lies in any of them, so it’s best not to pay them too much heed until the picture becomes a little clearer. That is, however, easier said than done when there is no action to get our teeth into, so I think I speak for every LFC fan when I say: roll on Villa on Sunday!
You can catch up with Neil on Twitter @Neil1980 and on his blog http://itsallinthegameblog.wordpress.com/
[ad_pod id=’DFP-MPU’ align=’right’]
Live4Liverpool is recruiting columnists. For further info contact the site editor at email@example.com