Squad revolution: the ins and outs
The reds have been prolific in the summer transfer window and the recruitment drive appears set to continue. If reports are correct and a certain South American football expert from the BBC is to be believed, the final pieces of the puzzle could also be in place in the coming weeks. It was always going to be this way. The squad was painfully thin last season. With Champions League football on the horizon, a serious foray into the market was essential.
As firm disciples of FFP, the Reds American owners were always going to try to live within their means. This meant that along with the sunshine there was always going to be a little rain sometime. The loss of Suarez may not have been anticipated by all fans, but it appears the club may have known it was on the cards for quite a while. When you think back to Stevie’s “we should enjoy him while we’ve got him” comments, you do wonder. I am not suggesting that the club wanted to sell him and I am sure they tried hard to persuade him to stay,but, the £75 million received, coupled with record TV receipts, will have eased the pressure to sell players before bring in new ones.
This seems borne out by the clubs activity to date. Luis remains the only high profile departure since the window opened, while a total of seven players have been photographed leaning against stuff at Melwood. The club have spent £89 million with a string of fringe players released or leaving on loan. The gross spend is set to top £100 million with the anticipated arrival of Moreno. Therefore, if we are going to continue improving the squad with quality, high earning, players we will need to experience a bit more of that rain.
The first casualty of this process is Pepe Reina. I share the pain of many fans, who are left with a bad taste in the mouth after the popular keeper left for Germany. It doesn’t matter that he spent last season on loan at Napoli; for me his leaving marks the end of an era. As a mainstay of the Benitez Spanish revolution, Pepe deserved a better ending to his Anfield career. His goodbye note was, at least this time, dripping with class and dignity. Having said all of that, Liverpool simply couldn’t have a player earning £110,000 per week sitting on the bench, or rotting in the reserves.
Sadly, it’s probably not over yet. Reina leaving will seem like a summer shower compared to the downpour that’s likely to greet the departure of Daniel Agger. Dagger was at times brilliant, brutal (just ask Fernando Torres) and ultimately brittle. In my opinion his injury record blighted what could have been an exceptional career at Liverpool. If he goes I will be able to understand the decision. It will be in the best interests of both the club and the player. However, the romantic in me will feel pangs of regret at his leaving, regardless of the fee we receive.
Agger joined that growing band of of foreign nationals who came to Anfield and fell in love with the club, the city and its people. My abiding memory of him will be him scoring a goal against Blackburn in a game played close to a Hillsborough anniversary. I remember him striding towards us in the Kop, fist clenched, his face etched with pride and full of emotion. His other hand was touching his black armband, signalling to each and every one of us that that goal was for the 96.
Daniel Agger is no phony. He is uncomfortable in front of the cameras. You sense he thinks hard before he speaks and when he does he means every word. His YNWA tattoo is not the only thing to bond him to the supporters. All of us will hope that reports of training ground tears are not true. If they are it will only convince us of his passion for the club. If Danny leaves he can hold his head high and he should go with the best wishes of everyone at the club.
While the departures of Reina and Agger are likely to unite reds in sadness, the reaction of supporters to the rumoured departures of Lucas and Borini are likely to generate a mixed response. Lucas has been a loyal servant of the club for many years now. He has come through a lot to ultimately earn the respect of the Kop and those who have managed him. With the addition of Can in the middle and the ability of Gerrard to act as that shield in front of the back four, Lucas seems surplus to requirements. I feel his experience can still serve the club in a fixture laden season, but surely any decent bid for the Brazilian will be accepted. Napoli are reportedly interested and another goodbye looks likely.
Then we come to Borini. He is undoubtedly a talented player. Rodgers knows him well and persuaded John Henry to part with £11 million for his talents. Borini had two big problem at Anfield. They were Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. This meant that, even if he was able to stay injury free, he was never going to get the run of games he needed. It now seems inevitable that Liverpool will receive an unlikely profit for the player as Sunderland rush to spend their TV millions. For me, Fabio Borini’s Liverpool career is one of unfulfilled promise. There have been glimpses of class and it is to be hoped that he doesn’t come back to haunt us next season.
The clear-out may not end there either. It remains to be seen if Seb Coates has performed a miracle and convinced Brendan to hold on to him. Then there’s the Johnson enigma. There will be few tears shed if Glen leaves. Last season was poor. He was carrying injuries for the most part but, again, any decent offer will surely see him depart. West Ham or QPR could offer him a way out, but his wages are sure to be an issue. My money would be on him seeing out his last 12 months and leaving for free next summer.
There is a real sense of a revolution taking shape this summer. The old guard are being moved out along with those who have failed to fulfill their potential. Decisions over who we sell are as critical as who we buy. The riches on offer for a top four finish this season are staggering. Liverpool cannot afford to be out in the cold.