Now that the transfer window have officially come to a close, all the rumors and speculations have been put to an end and clubs now are set to battle out for the titles. With almost £850 million spend on transfer fees; the Premier League is miles ahead of the other top European leagues when it comes to transfer expenses, as even the smaller sides spend large to survive in the top level. The arrival of new players always give scope for discussion and with the addition of so many players, it is interesting to analyze who among the new arrivals are good enough and who are overrated.
In a series of articles that analyze the Top EPL clubs’ summer signings, we try to rate each player on the merits and flaws of their presence at the club. We take a look at Liverpool’s summer signings after having taken a look at Chelsea’s summer signings here.
Rickie Lambert’s arrival at Liverpool marks the climax to what has been a fairy-tale journey. After being released from the Liverpool Academy at an age of 15, Lambert even played as low as in the 3rd division of English football but slowly climbed up the levels and finally made the dream return to Anfield earlier this summer after 17 years. Having scored 106 goals in 207 league appearances for Southampton, Lambert arrives with a decent scoring record.
But with Daniel Sturridge and new signing Mario Balotelli above him in the pecking order, Lambert’s chances will be far and few, but he is unlikely to complain. Overall, Brendan Rodgers has obtained a decent backup striker at a reasonable price in Lambert, who could help Liverpool navigate through the domestic cup matches amidst a busy schedule which includes European duties as well.
Adam Lallana has played a crucial role in Southampton’s return to Premier League and its impressive run last term. Lallana, the captain of the side, led from the front with 9 goals and 8 assists to his name as Southampton finished at 8th place.
With European duties and with Luis Suarez gone, Rodgers need more than Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho to provide the necessary creativity upfront and Lallana is one player who can significantly contribute to that. The chance creation rate (as per whoscored) of 1.98 per 90 minutes is on par with Sterling’s 2.08 and Coutinho’s 2.48 and is an indication of the form that he is going through. At 26 years of age, Lallana is still to reach his peak and can only improve under the leadership of someone like Steven Gerrard; he may even go onto make a claim for the captaincy after Gerrard’s retirement, given his leadership qualities. In what is comparatively a very young team, a price tag of £20 million for a player of Lallana’s experience and quality seems well justified.
With Steven Gerrard turning 34 this year, Rodgers has started his quest for replacements. Can was signed from Bayern Leverkusen after an impressive season with the German side. Despite playing in a defensive midfield role at Leverkusen, the former Bayern Munich youngster still managed to grab 4 goals and assists each, proving his ability at both ends of the pitch.
Can has gotten off to a shaky start to the Premier League with an injury very early and has followed it up with average performances off the bench. But at 20 years of age, Can has lot of time to bloom and with Gerrard, Henderson and Allen around, Rodgers will be happy to ease him into the side. Can seem to have the physicality to survive in the Premier League, time will tell whether he fulfills his potential.
The young Serbian winger signed from Benfica for a fee of £20 million. Despite his young age, Markovic was a key figure in Benfica’s incredible journey last season securing the League title, the two domestic cups and the runners-up spot in the Europa League.
With Champions League football returning to Anfield, Markovic is yet another player who shall provide Rodgers with pace and creativity, as he tries to utilize the depth in the squad to challenge for the Premier League title as well as other cups. Versatile enough to play on either wings, as a second striker or even as the lone man upfront if needed, Markovic offers Rodgers a wide range of options. The price tag might be a bit steep given that he has had only one season at Benfica, but if he can live up to expectations than he might still be good value for money.
The Croatian centre half was instrumental in Southampton’s impressive season last time under Mauricio Pochettino. But with Pochettino’s departure to Spurs, Lovren followed Lambert and Lallana to Anfield after much speculation, for a fee of £20 million.
Liverpool’s defensive issues were the reason why they lost out on the title last time. Liverpool conceded 50 goals last time, which was too high for a team competing for the title. But Rodgers has found a solution to the issue by bringing in Lovren. Standing tall at 6’2”, Lovren is solid at the back and is also good aerially. With long serving Daniel Agger returning to his homeland, Lovren is a ready made replacement for the Dane. If Lovren can continue from where he left off at Southampton and can form a partnership with either of Sakho or Skrtel, then Lovren is exactly what Liverpool needed at the back.
- DIVOCK ORIGI
The young Belgian striker shot to fame with his performance at the FIFA World Cup, where he overshadowed Romelu Lukaku with his impressive displays. Origi signed for Liverpool after many clubs had shown interest in him, but was immediately loaned back to his former club, Lille, for the 2014/15 season.
With plenty of options for Rodgers upfront, the best he could do for Origi is to help him continue his development at Lille. At 19, a regular starting berth can contribute a lot to fulfilling his potential and Lille would provide him exactly that. A good spell this term, would mean he would be rearing to go next season providing Liverpool yet another quality striker.
It is quite surprising that Atletico Madrid let go off the 20 year old right-back because he looks a very good prospect. Even though the deal is currently a 2-year loan, it is unlikely that Manquillo would move back to Atletico if he nails down a regular spot in the Liverpool line-up.
With Glen Johnson receiving a lot of flaks for his poor defensive qualities, Liverpool needed a new right-back. But the fact that the Liverpool supporters now wish to see him at right-back over Johnson, shows how quickly he has impressed. It is likely that Johnson would leave by the next summer, and that would mean Manquillo would take over the right-back spot. But as of now, Rodgers will be careful with him, as he is slightly inexperienced and would likely rotate him with Johnson and Jon Flanagan.
The player whose service that Liverpool had to really work hard to secure over the summer was Moreno. His former club Sevilla stood firm for almost 1 ½ months over the fee for Moreno, and Liverpool had to really sweat it out to secure him for the final fee of £12 million.
With Jose Enrique missing the entire season last time with injury, it was the young Jon Flanagan who slotted into the left-back berth. This time, with added responsibilities of Europe, Liverpool urgently needed a quality left-back and have got one in Moreno. Despite his diminutive figure, Moreno is solid in his defensive work and has also got remarkable pace to support the team when going forward. Being a part of the Europa League winning Sevilla side, Moreno has the advantage of having European experience as well. Given that Luke Shaw moved to Manchester United for a whopping fee, Liverpool seems to have made a great buy in Moreno.
Luis Suarez scored a whopping 31 goals and assisted goals last season for Liverpool in the journey leading to an incredible 2nd place finish in the league. Suarez’s departure left Rodgers with the most important task of replacing him and he might have got a winner on his hand with the marquee signing of Mario Balotelli from AC Milan.
There is no doubting Balotelli’s talent and quality; he scored 26 goals in 43 appearances for AC Milan in the last two seasons he has been with them, which is clear indication of his abilities. The issue however is his special character on and off the field. Balotelli has got into trouble numerous times for his rash behavior and actions, and that is the reason why even AC Milan let him go despite his relative success at the club. But with an inspirational leader like Gerrard and a brilliant manager like Rodgers around, this seems to be the right time and place for Balotelli to mend his ways.
If he succeeds in focusing on his game and supply Liverpool with goals, it would be a win-win situation for both Liverpool and Mario. In an inflated market, in which Shane Long was signed by Southampton for £12 million, Liverpool was offered £14 million by Sunderland for Fabio Borini and Danny Welbeck moved to Arsenal for £16 million, a player of Mario’s class at £16 million has got to be the best deal of the window; the only hurdle being whether Mario would behave differently or remain the same.
10. MADGER ANTONIO
Liverpool’s only deadline day signing came in the form of Spain U-17 international Madger Antonio. The versatile midfielder signed from Villarreal and will be a part of Liverpool’s youth squads once he completed the paperwork for his work permit. Even though Madger is highly rated, it is too early to judge him.
Liverpool has had a busy summer with a whole new bunch of players coming in, with Rodgers strengthening his armory to face the new additional challenge of Champions League football this term. Rodgers has to be given credit for bringing in players that suit his system of attacking football and the 4-4-2 diamond and 4-3-3 formations, unlike Manchester United which has brought in players and now has to mold the formation fit to accommodate the players. But even though the additions are all quality players, most of them are young and inexperienced.
Therefore, Liverpool might not be able to win the premier league this time nor can they be expected to go past the quarterfinals in the Champions League, but they have a strong chance in the domestic Cup matches and would probably be a realistic title contender next season.