With Kenny Dalglish spending over £100m and ending the Hodgson era, just how well has he played the Summer Transfer Window?
Well to say it’s been an active transfer market for Liverpool and manager Kenny Dalglish is a bit of an understatement. With 7 new players brought in and a lot more being shifted out Dalglish finally has a squad of 25 or so trusted players to utilise for the 2011/12 Premier League season.
We already know some of the big names that have come and gone this season, with Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and Charlie Adam impressing for the Reds already, but what of some of the more shrewd moves Kenny Dalglish has made this transfer window? And just how well will all these deals go down come January?
In: Jordan Henderson from Sunderland
In a deal thought to be worth up to £20m Henderson was one of the more expensive and surprising deals Liverpool made in the transfer window. Many speculated where Jordan Henderson would first fit into Liverpool’s squad, a player who plays very similarly to Raul Meireles and Steven Gerrard but doesn’t quite have the experience of either of those two players at just 20 years of age.
Henderson was Sunderland’s best player last season, creating more goal scoring opportunities than anyone else at his former club and racking up the most assists as well. When you take that on board you can begin to understand the £20m price tag. Add in the fact that these days you need to spend big to get in the players you want and the price starts becoming justifiable.
So far Henderson has been a stable player for Liverpool, ranging from average against Sunderland in the opening week to brilliant against Bolton. Kenny Dalglish is seems to utilising the players legs to their best, getting him to do the leg work in the midfield for both Charlie Adam and Lucas Leiva whilst getting forward into goal scoring opportunities for himself.
At just 20, there is still a lot more to see from the young central midfielder and if he is moulded into a Gerrard-esque player Liverpool could have quite a gem on their hands.
So far so good but must see more as the season goes on.
OUT: Paul Konchesky to Leicester
Paul Konchesky was perhaps the most hated man in a Liverpool shirt when he joined last year for £3m. A product from the Roy Hodgson and seen as the player that symbolises everything that was wrong with Hodgson’s reign, Konchesky never really had a chance. As a player the best thing pundits could say about him was he was a stable 6/10 player every game of the season.
Unfortunately for Liverpool, a team challenging for top four finish, a 6/10 performance was never going to be good a quite rightly he was the first player Dalglish got rid of.
Honestly there isn’t a Liverpool fan out there who can give a good reason why Konchesky should have stayed.
IN: Charlie Adam from Blackpool
One of the Premier League’s stars from last season for Blackpool and a great central midfielder who has a keen talent for those big diagonal Hollywood passes that can carve open defences from deep. Described by many Liverpool fans as pivot in the midfield, this deep lying playmaker has filled a giant Xabi Alonso-shaped whole in Liverpool’s squad a brought his own unique style to the side.
One of Dalglish’s key signings this summer and a player Liverpool had been tracking for quite some time before his £7m transfer in early July this year. A lot was discussed about Adam’s fitness levels before he was officially made a Liverpool player and it certainly seems that Dalglish is trying to make the Scotsman into a 90 minute man, unlike his time at Blackpool. So far it’s worked but so far Adam has been surrounded by work-horses such as Lucas and Henderson.
Despite that little bit of negativity, Adam is a fantastic bargain buy and has the potential to be an Anfield legend like fellow Scotsman Kenny Dalglish and at just 26 he’s still got plenty of years left in his tank before he begins to wane. He’s simply an exciting player at a much reduced price.
A very good player who looks to be improving already and can play several roles in midfield, however it will be interesting to see where he fits in to Liverpool’s starting XI when Gerrard is fit.
OUT: Milan Jovanovic to Anderlecht
Unfortunately for Milan Jovanovic, he was a Rafa Benitez player, who didn’t arrive until after Roy Hodgson was made the new Liverpool manager and was seemingly never in the plans for either Hodgson or Dalglish during his torrid time at Liverpool.
The striker arrived from Standard Liege with a good reputation behind him but during the one season he was a Liverpool player he failed to make a big impact, making only 18 appearances across all competitions and scoring 2 goals. It wasn’t enough time to make an impact and at 30 years old Liverpool perhaps conceded that he just didn’t have a long term future at the club.
It was a shame to allow him to leave on a free but the wages the player was on probably meant there was no other choice.
IN: Stewart Downing from Aston Villa
Liverpool were in desperate need for a left winger, Stewart Downing is a left winger. Already this looks like a good buy and at £20m Liverpool have paid a lot for the 26 year old but you pay for what you get and Liverpool have a quality winger in Downing.
Whilst he certainly wasn’t the fans first choice with names like Juan Mata and Ashley Young thrown around for some time, it seems Downing though was always Kenny Dalglish’s main man to add width and attacking verve down the wing.
Since joining the team earlier this summer Downing has been a great hit with the fans and an important member of the first team. It’s these reliable and consistent performances that have seen him improve greatly over the years to become the quality player he is today.
Whilst Downing wasn’t the player many Liverpool fans wanted, the left winger gives you consistency and reliability that’s hard to find in proven Premier League players.
OUT: Sotirios Kyrgiakos to Wolfsburg
The big Greek defender who towers over most players and fumbles around in his own penalty box has finally moved on to another club and it seems Wolfsburg will be the victim of his incompetence. With the defender moving for an undisclosed fee, which is probably nothing at all, the main priority here may have just been to move the defender onwards and make room for new players coming into Liverpool.
During his time as a Liverpool player Kyrgiakos managed to make 49 appearances, enough to trigger a contract extension Liverpool probably didn’t want to give him, considering the amount of mistakes and penalties he cost the team during his playing time as a Red.
It’s a good thing that Kyrgiakos has left Liverpool, particularly now we have a replacement player in Sebastian Coates
IN: Alexander Doni from Roma
All the way from Italy and the Serie A is Roma’s former goalkeeper Alexander Doni brought in to provide cover for Pepe Reina and as a better alternative to Brad Jones. Whilst Reina is very unlikely to get injured over the course of the season, an experienced goalkeeper like Doni is a much better alternative then some of the characters Liverpool have had on the bench for quite some time.
Hopefully we’ll never really have to see Doni in between the sticks for any important Premier League games and he’s just a safety net for worst case scenario.
Whilst there’s no real danger of Reina getting too seriously injured Doni is good for cover for Liverpool, but as we’ll rarely see him play, it may be a case of Liverpool being too cautious.
OUT: Joe Cole and Alberto Aquilani on loan deals
With Joe Cole going to French side Lille and Alberto Aquilani heading off to AC Milan for an initial £7m with an option to buy. Liverpool has managed to shift two players that were on the periphery of the first team squad and whilst they both had something to offer the squad, they were deemed surplus to requirements at Liverpool.
Many will feel Liverpool should have kept Aquilani to offer attacking options in the midfield, in that trequartista role he plays, but with that space occupied by Steven Gerrard and now possibly even Jordan Henderson, you can see why Dalglish doesn’t necessarily need Aquilani. AC Milan on the other hand have got an experienced and clever Italian which will bolster their squad greatly and give Aquilani a chance to continuing impress for the national team.
With Cole it may have just been a case that the reported £90,000 a week wages he was on was just too much for essentially a reserve player, especially since he hasn’t even made the bench so far this season. Lille however have got an experienced player with Champions League games under his belt that could come in handy for them this year and they’re doing the club a favour by paying 40% of his ludicrous wages.
Both still had something to offer the club, particularly Aquilani who many fans will feel could have stayed at the club and provide greater attacking options. Cole on the other hand man will be glad to see the back of.
IN: Jose Enrique from Newcastle
A quality player to fill in a position where Liverpool has lacked quality for quite some time, Jose Enrique the Spanish left-back signed for a bargain price of £6m from Newcastle has been a revelation on the left flank alongside Downing.
With everything in his locker to be a great left-back, pace, skill and an ability to cross a ball, Jose Enrique has quickly become one of Kenny Dalglish’s most important buys of the summer this season and will play a vital role in Liverpool’s defence, providing wide options and solid, consistent performances in a position that for a long time at Liverpool, the players have just not been good enough.
A top player in a position Liverpool has lacked quality at for quite some time. However with his constant need to go forward, there’s a danger he’ll become another Glen Johnson.
OUT: Christian Poulsen and Emiliano Insua on free transfers
With one left-back coming in, Liverpool have released Emiliano Insua to Sporting Lisbon and at the same time inflicted Christian Poulsen on Lgue 1 newcomers Evian.
Both players have had a pretty torrid time at Liverpool, with Insua looking at of his depth every time he wore the Red shirt and Poulsen was several yards short of pace for the Premier League and unable to adapt.
Out of the two players who’ve left the club, Insua is perhaps the more valuable and to see him leave on a free is a wasted opportunity, especially when he could have been good cover for Jose Enrique if injury or suspensions hit. Poulsen on the other hand is another Roy Hodgson player Dalglish couldn’t wait to get rid off and by doing so he’s lifted £60,000 a week from the wage budget, so well done Kenny.
Both needed to go just for the sake of Liverpool’s wage budget if anything else.
IN: Sebastian Coates from Nacional
The 6ft 6in Uruguayan center-back signed for £7m is a perfect replacement for Kyrgiakos and at just 20 years old he has bags of potential to become a top player for Liverpool. With other defenders like Gary Cahill being priced at around £17m, Liverpool have conducted a good piece of business, searching the market and getting themselves a bargain.
Coates looks the business as a central defender and certainly has the height advantage against almost every single striker the Premier League has to offer. Hopefully he can turn that height advantage into some goals for Liverpool, particularly on the corners.
Many have waxed-lyrical about Coates already but it’ll take some time before the newest Liverpool defender can fully get to grips with the pace and the power of the Premier League.
OUT: David N’Gog to Bolton
In a deal worth £4m Liverpool have lost sensational talent in young star David N’Gog and may find it very difficult to cope without him. No, seriously there’s a reason why he’s been branded David NoGoals for a reason. A striker with a bit of height, no pace and no strength, which makes you wonder why he thought playing football would be a good career choice.
Make no mistake, Liverpool have done very well to get £4m for N’Gog who was one of the last few pieces of deadwood Liverpool had to get rid of in order to improve the squad. He may surprise us all and turn out to be a very good player for new club Bolton, but like many other Liverpool fans, I won’t be holding my breath.
He wasn’t a good player at all but maybe at Bolton he can prove Liverpool wrong and make us look like fools...maybe.
IN: Craig Bellamy from Manchester City
An Anfield return for the Welsh wonder that is Craig Bellamy and at the affordable price of nothing with a much reduced weekly wage than what he was on at Manchester City.
A quick and experienced forward, who might just be a great signing to cover for Suarez and Carroll, simply because he can play on the wings or up front. At 32 he may not be much o a future prospect but he certainly does have experience playing in the Premier League, still knows how to hit the back of the net and is a better player than David N’Gog.
The only problem with Bellamy is the trouble and attitude his personality can bring, but he says he’s “honoured” to play for Kenny Dalglish and if there’s anyone who can control the fiery forward it’s the Liverpool manager.
As a former Liverpool player he’ll already have a good relationship with the fans and his jokey personality may be a great benefit in the dressing room for the Liverpool squad. Add in the fact that with all his years as a footballer, he’s got a few things to teach some of the other players in the squad, such as Andy Carroll, it all makes for a good, if surprising move from Dalglish.
I think what all Liverpool fans will be looking forward to however, is whether we’ll see a repeat of his infamous ‘golf-swing’ celebration when he bags his first goal for Liverpool all over again.
Bellamy is still a very good player but I’m sure a lot of fans would have liked someone younger as back up to Suarez and Carroll.
OUT: Raul Meireles to Chelsea
One of the few surprising transfers out of Liverpool which has fan opinion split, particularly as last season he became such a great hit with Liverpool supporters thanks to impressive displays under Dalglish.
All summer there has been murmurings about whether Meireles will be leaving the club, with rumoured contract disagreements being the root cause of Meireles wanting out of Liverpool. If you’re getting paid less than other players who do the same job, you’ll want more money or find a way out.
The transfer is particularly hurtful to fans though, because of the fact he handed in a transfer request so close to the deadline and moved to Chelsea in a £12m move. Comparisons to the Fernando Torres transfer last January have been made, but that in the end turned out to be good business.
At 28 years old Meireles was given a 4 year contract by his new club, something he certainly wouldn’t have got at Liverpool. Then when you consider he wasn’t really doing enough to get a first team starting place and Liverpool have Steven Gerrard to come back into the squad, it makes Liverpool’s decision to sell the player all the more clearer.
However that doesn’t stop it from hurting the fans.
He was a fan favourite and gave Liverpool some added depth to the bench, which they now lack.
So Overall how has Dalglish Done?
It’s been a very productive transfer window for Liverpool, with over a £100m spent on improving the first team squad and clearing out all players who weren’t good enough or had no future at the club. All of the player’s from the Roy Hodgson-era have gone (except Goalkeeper Brad Jones) and now Kenny Dalglish has a solid squad of 25 or so players that are his and he’ll utilise to the best of their abilities.
The best thing about this transfer window however is perhaps a return to the “Liverpool Way”, carrying out business quickly and efficiently, getting rid of players who don’t want to play for Liverpool or who aren’t good enough, and at the same time buying in players the team needs swiftly and without fuss.
Liverpool’s rebuilding is complete and now it is up to the manager and the players to come together and achieve all that is expected, mainly a return to the Champions League after a two year absence and hopefully a future push for the League title.