The Reds sold Luis Suarez for £75 million but have been positive in the transfer market, recruiting eight players so far, as they look to go one better and win the Premier League
After narrowly missing out on the Premier League last term, Brendan Rodgers has been busy reshaping his squad after the departure of star man Luis Suarez. With Champions League football back at Anfield, the Reds will need to hit the ground running if they are to make a push for silverware this coming season.
At the time of writing Brendan Rodgers has signed eight players this summer, with Divock Origi loaned back to Lille immediately. Liverpool’s squad was stretched at times last season, and though they just missed out on winning the title, a return to Europe’s top table has increased the need for depth.
Rodgers raided Southampton for Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren - three players who had fine seasons on the south coast as Saints finished eighth - but three swallows does not a summer make…or something. The trio had an undeniably impressive year under Mauricio Pochettino but expectations at Anfield will be high.
Elsewhere Javier Manquillo and Alberto Moreno add quality to both full-back positions. Moreno in particular will be expected to slot straight into the first team.
Emre Can was brought in from Bayer Leverkusen and offers a creative option in central midfield while Rodgers spent big on Lazar Markovic. The Serb will compete with the likes of Lallana, Raheem Sterling and Phillipe Coutinho in the attacking midfield positions.
The big move of the summer saw Luis Suarez shipped out to Barcelona for £75 million after one indiscretion too many while on international duty at the World Cup.
The Uruguayan’s chomp on Giorgio Chiellini's shoulder led to a snap sale in July, bringing to an end three-and-a-half years on Merseyside. Suarez will be remembered as one of the Premier League’s greatest ever strikers and is likely to prove almost impossible to replace, but it felt like a necessary move if only to preserve the club's image.
How Rodgers replaces one of the world's best strikers may prove the making of the man. Yet with Daniel Sturridge also in fine fettle last year, it would not be a surprise to see him lead the line alone next year.
Conor Coady, an Englishman who has represented his country at every level up to the U20s also departed Anfield, moving to Huddersfield for £500,000, while Pepe Reina was sold to Bayern Munich for around £2m.
Kolo Toure also looks set to head to Trabzonspor and the futures of Fabio Borini, Daniel Agger and Martin Kelly also look to lie away from Anfield.
It is fair to say Liverpool overachieved last year given the quality throughout their squad, owing as much to Suarez’s 31 goals as Brendan Rodgers’ attacking, high-tempo style of play.
The loss of Suarez may provide Daniel Sturridge with a more prominent role next year but he will need goalscoring support from elsewhere if Liverpool are to push the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal to the title.
The Reds’ weakness last year was their defence and although that appears to have been addressed by Rodgers, it is unclear whether this was down to under-performing players or an over-reliant attacking philosophy. By May the balance didn’t feel right and Liverpool were callously undone at Selhurst Park in a must-win game that ultimately cost them the title.
Much of Liverpool’s threat comes from their interchanging movement in midfield and Rodgers has a multitude of options in behind Sturridge. Behind them, Steven Gerrard’s ageing legs will have more asked of them, while Jordan Henderson must maintain the levels that saw Roy Hodgson hand him a starting position at the World Cup.
Daniel Sturridge has always played the bridesmaid, even when scoring 24 goals last season he watched on as Suarez took the majority of the plaudits. But after what will be remembered as his breakout year, the former Chelsea and Manchester City forward seems set to establish himself as Liverpool's premier striker.
This coming season will see him lead the Liverpool attack and adopt an unfamiliar role as one of the leaders at the club, a tough ask for someone who is still lacking experience in the biggest games - though the World Cup would have opened his eyes somewhat. The feeling, though, is that Sturridge holds no fear on the grand stage. His time at City and Chelsea was spent on the fringes, adding to the feeling that he had missed out on key development years. He is primed to explode this season.
In the absence of Suarez, Sturridge will be the go-to man, the talisman the Kop will turn to for goals. It is a lot of pressure but the 24-year-old has never been shy to take on responsibility.
Brendan Rodgers won manager of the year last campaign after taking a team that had finished the previous four seasons outside of the top four to within two points of their first top-flight title in 24 years.
Praised during his time at Swansea for courageous possession-oriented football, the Northern Irishman has shown his flexibility by turning Liverpool into one of the most feared counterattacking teams on the continent. It will be thrilling to watch the Reds take on the cream of Europe this year, knowing how devastating they can be.
Rodgers signed a new four-year contract in May; a commitment from the club who clearly trust his methods and vision after an innocuous first 12 months following in the footsteps of Kenny Dalglish. With the backing of the board, money to spend and a fascinating template, Rodgers is moving in the right direction and taking Liverpool with him.
|A GOOD 2014-15 WOULD BE...|
More of the same. A run at the title is almost expected after last season but the relative strengthening by all of their rivals suggest this season will be tougher. Rodgers will also be juggling Champions League football - a notoriously difficult task only negotiated successfully by the very best teams.
The sensible prediction is to say Liverpool will not reach the heights of last year but if Rodgers can integrate his new men quickly and find a top level striker to either partner or support Sturridge, who knows what the 41-year-old can achieve. The feeling persists that this is very much the beginning of the Rodgers era.