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After an impressive second half to last season, with a Liverpool side growing in confidence and adapting to Brendan Rodgers ideas, the summer transfer window represented an important crossroads for the club if it is to get back to where it wants to be.
It’s not rocket science to know that in order to compete with the best in Europe, you need the players to match. Despite Liverpool’s rich history and still being England’s most successful club, if Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich come calling, no club in the world stands a realistic chance of beating them to the signature of a top drawer player, unless there are extenuating circumstances; and without the significant financial investment via cash rich owners the likes of Man City, PSG, Chelsea and Monaco have, Liverpool have to do smart business in the transfer market.
When I think of ‘smart’ business, not only does earning huge winnings from bwin.be pop into mind, but of a club like Borussia Dortmund: bringing through youth from the Academy, finding promising young players, looking at talented players with something to prove and scouting Europe for players who could be on the cusp of moving into that upper echelon of performance. Dortmund have done this brilliantly under the guidance of Jürgen Klopp and are now one of the best teams in Europe.
So, whilst Liverpool were disappointed to have lost out on one of their main summer transfer targets in Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Borussia Dortmund, the fact they were scouting the same player should be a sign of encouragement.
I think it can be argued that Simon Mingolet, Mamadou Sakho, Luis Alberto and Tiago Ilori are players who fit that ‘smart’ profile, though only time will tell if they prove to be ‘smart’ buys in the way that Coutinho and Sturridge have been thus far, two players who also fell into the ‘smart’ profile when signed in January.
A penalty save on his debut has certainly helped Mignolet settle in, continuing the impressive form he showed last season with Sunderland. Sakho had a shaky debut against Swansea, getting caught out positionally, but he also showed flashes of superb technique, as well as strength and aerial ability that should serve him well as he adjusts to the style of the Premier League.
At £15m, much will be expected of the French international who will want to prove a point to former club, PSG. Luis Alberto and Ilori may get limited chances this season, but have undoubtedly been signed with the future in mind.
Iago Aspas would seem to be a squad player to add more striking options. He looks decent and will need time to adjust, but with a good record at Celta Vigo and at £7.7m, doesn’t exactly represent a massive gamble. The loan signing of Aly Cissokho gives much needed back up at left back without the financial commitment of a permanent deal whilst the highly promising Jack Robinson gains experience on loan.
Signing Victor Moses on loan from Chelsea could prove to be a very good piece of business. He’s young, quick, strong and direct, with something to prove. A prosperous season could see a permanent deal materialise, but at the very least it offers a year’s stop gap whilst teenagers Raheem Sterling and Jordan Ibe can develop without the pressure of being relied upon.
Losing the experience of Jamie Carragher was a blow, after finishing his career with a strong run of games last season. However, securing the services of Kolo Toure on a free transfer very early in the summer has so far proved to be a master stroke, he rolled back the years in his first few games and his experience and presence in the dressing room could be important to Liverpool’s aspirations this season.
All in all, Liverpool may not have significantly improved their first XI this summer, but they have improved the quality of the squad, adding much needed depth in key areas, though it’s by no means the finished article.
Whilst top 4 will be the target this season, it will be difficult and the competition is fierce: Tottenham spending over £100m and Arsenal signing Mesut Ozil is testament to that fact.
Continuing the good form shown in the second half of last season has been a positive sign for The Reds, as has the improvements in mental strength being shown; indeed, character and spirit are qualities that should not be overlooked easily.
Potentially, Liverpool have had a good summer transfer window, not just making the signings they’ve made, but also retaining the services of Luis Suarez and if the summer business can prove to be ‘smart’ business, then perhaps the clubs targets for this season can be achieved.
Written by Andy Wales
Follow Andy on Twitter @AndyArmchair
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