Ah, the transfer window. Don't you just love it? This is the time of the year when optimism is at it's highest. This is the time of the year when the madness happens and the ridiculous rumours fly around ("So, we're getting Suarez and Torres back with Rafa as manager?") This is the time of year when Liverpool usually.... fuck it up.
Despite the 9 months of football that happens between August and May, there's a fair argument that a club's season is decided in the three months beforehand. Just think about Chelsea last season. The Chelsea of 2014 was a solid side on the verge of winning the title; they just needed a couple of top class additions to midfield and centre forward in order to secure it. They went out and bought Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas last summer and the league was wrapped up by October. Then you think of Liverpool's summer transfer window and...you try not to think of Liverpool's summer transfer window.
There has been a recurring theme with Liverpool managers over the last 20 years; things start off slowly, they gradually improve, then the manager has a great season where the league title is nearly secured, and just needs to make a few key additions to the squad to push them over the line the next season. Then they have a terrible transfer window, it all goes to shit, and we're back to where we started. The transfer windows of 2002, 2009 and 2014 will be forever etched in Liverpool fan's memories as the moments the dream of another league title died. Who hasn't woken up in cold sweats in the middle of the night and screamed "Diouf, Diao, Cheyrou, AAAAHHHH!"?
It could be argued that the biggest change this summer for Liverpool may be the manager itself. That's an argument for another day, but even if the like of Jurgen Klopp does come in, then it's doubtful as to how much influence they will have over player investment anyway. That job, much as we dare to think about it, is on the heads of the dreaded "transfer committee".
So what do we need this year? A goalkeeper probably, a left back definitely, maybe a right back and a centre back, a midfielder; at least one, probably two strikers. Hmmmm, that's going to cost a few quid, how are we going to afford all that? But all hope is not lost ladies and gentlemen: introducing, the loanees.
Andre Wisdom (RB): Probably not a lost one, but then mightn't be a sure one either. He did well at Derby the year before last. He seemed to be doing well at West Brom for a while, then had a nightmare game against Harry Kane and Spurs, was taken off, and has barely featured since. When he was here he looked a decent prospect who could potentially secure a starting spot in a few years time. Well, if there is a time Andre, it's now.
It's abundantly clear that somebody has to nail down the right back slot next year. Glen Johnson (cross fingers, touch wood) is leaving, so that leaves us with a straight shootout of Wisdom, Manquillo(who has hardly featured in the second half of the season) and John Flanagan. Of those 3, Flanagan seems to be the best prospect, but then he hasn't played in a year, will be injured for the start of next season, and there is no guarantee he will improve or even be at the same level when he comes back.
Then you wonder will we play 3 at the back next season and will it be Ibe at right wing back. It's hard to know where Andre fits in to all of this. He needs to be given a chance next season but he also, crucially, needs to take it. The final word on him? Undecided. Send me a text if you know any better.
Tiago Ilori (CB): There are times when you almost, almost, feel sorry for FSG. So maybe we can't spend outlandish money on one player in transfers *cough, Dejan Lovren, cough*. So maybe we can't (grits teeth) pay top dollar in wages for Alexis Sanchez. Maybe we just don't have enough money to compete. Then you realize they spent 7 million on a centre half who hasn't played a minute for us in the last 2 seasons and you begin to lose sympathy.
How good is Tiago Llori? I have absolutely no idea. Do you know? Does the transfer committee? Does Brendan Rodgers? Given his age and the fact we paid 7 million for him you get to think he must be good, but then I used to think "We paid 20 million for Aquilani, he can't be that bad" and look what happened there. Lets look at the statistics for a minute, because you know the fuckers at FSG will be doing the same thing.
He's young, he's played 15 games for Bordeaux this season. Bordeaux are 6th in the French League. There have been encouraging reports from France and rumours that he may be sold to Sunderland or Celtic which seems strange seeing as he's hardly been first choice at the club he is at. At 22 years of age and having invested a lot of money in him now might be the time to see what he can actually do, otherwise the FSG excuses start to wear very thin indeed.
Rafa Paez (CB): Spent a portion of last season on loan at Eibar in Spain, but didn't play because of an administrative error. Also spent some time at Bologna in Italy who were given the option to buy but didn't take it. At 20 years of age still seems miles away from a first team spot and either a cheap sale or another year on loan looks most likely.
Sebastian Coates (CB): Tricky one this. Coates' career at Anfield thus far has been mixed to say the least. He's had a few good performances, he scored a cracking goal against QPR a few years ago, and then you think the words "Matt Smith, Oldham", and start to shudder. He has spent the past season on loan at Sunderland where for a large portion of that time he was kept out of the side by the not exactly awe-inspiring pair of John O'Shea and Wes Brown. When he did play, like in the 4-1 home defeat against Manchester City, his performance was much derided.
However, towards the end of the season he returned to the team and played a Fabio Borini-esque role in ensuring the side's survival. To listen to some Sunderland fans you would think it was Franco Baresi who had stepped in to perform for those last few games, but if he is capable of producing those performances over the course of the season remains to be seen. What seems certain about Coates is that he is slow and not exactly the best ball player. He also seems to need an extended run of games in order to be able find form. Will Rodgers(or whoever it is) be able to give him that?
And will he favour an old-fashioned backs-to-the-wall defender over a quicker, more silky version, considering you would think we would like to play the majority of games on the front foot? Now in the last year of his contract, It's very much a judgement call as to what will happen, but perhaps Coates will be given the pre-season to prove his worth before deciding if he is worth persisting with, or possibly, sold back to Sunderland.
Joao Teixeira (AM): Was one of the best players at Brighton in what was an admittedly dismal season for the club before breaking his leg and returning back to Liverpool in April. At 22 years of age he's older than a lot of his competitors in the attacking midfielder role and not obviously better than many of them. At this stage it looks doubtful if he is truly going to make it at Anfield although may be given a chance in pre-season to show what he can do. Failing to impress may result in him being offloaded for a million or so.
Iago Aspas(?): That Corner. THAT corner. So you had a nice season back in Spain Iago then yeah? Oh, so you scored one of the fastest ever hat-tricks in a cup game there, yeah? Tell me something Iago, while you were there, did they teach you how to take a fucking corner? It's the last minute of the title decider, we're a goal down, just put it into the box for fuck's sake, just put it into the fucking box!
There's a basic rule to making high profile mistakes if you're a footballer: if you're a great player, a la Steven Gerrard against Chelsea, people will forgive you. However Aspas' "corner" in the same game last year, was merely the cherry on top of the most horrible cake of the season. Maybe if he went to Spain for a year and transformed into Lionel Messi we could welcome him back. I've checked, he didn't. Bids from 50p upwards will be considered.
Luis Alberto (AM): Again, not exactly flavour of the month. Alberto didn't attract the same level of opprobrium as Aspas last year, but maybe that was just down to the fact he didn't play enough to justify it. Certainly though, there was a sense of unease any time you looked to spring someone from the bench to change a game and he was one of your options.
My personal lowlight was away against Newcastle, when in the last minute at 2-2, he chose to shoot from an impossible angle rather than play the ball into the box where Sturridge and Suarez were waiting. Terrible decision making in the last minute? Must be a Spanish thing. Considering that, and his other noticeably underwhelming displays for the rest of the season, a sale would be much appreciated.
Divock Origi (ST): Looked a hell of a prospect for a few games at the World Cup last year, yet last season's stats from France would suggest that he wasn't exactly tearing it up there. In his defence he's young and young players going through dips in form is not exactly a rare phenomenom so maybe, maybe, some slack can be cut. On saying that he's certainly not coming to Anfield as our number one striker, and at least one top class forward, probably two, is needed to boost our hopes. So presumably he will start next season as fourth choice with the hope he will climb up the rankings in years to come.
Sheyi Ojo (AM): Definitely a prospect this one. Did well at Wigan in a short loan spell there although a bottom of the table championship side was hardly conducive to a young talent to prosper. Few 17 year olds (bar, dare we mention his name, Raheem Sterling) break into the first team at Liverpool and while Rodgers is certainly not unwilling to give youth a chance, the plethora of other attacking players of similar ilk in his way may mean another season away from Anfield is the best option.