Following a man-of-the-match display for loan side West Ham, Andy Carroll's future at Liverpool is once again in the headlines.
Hammers boss Sam Allardyce has restated his interest in securing the 24-year-old on a permanent basis so, with that in mind, Goal.com asks whether the England striker can come good at Anfield and start to repay his £35 million pricetag or if he should be moved on...
|"Carroll offers a strong, towering threat that Suarez does not"
By Alex Young
Let's look at this plainly. This debate could be looked at as a knee-jerk reaction to Andy Carroll's best performance while on loan at West Ham - which is hardly a difficult task with his fitness troubles this season – but it is evident that the striker is a confidence player with a unique approach that Liverpool do not possess.
A thumping header and a brilliant volley on the turn helped the Hammers to an impressive 3-1 victory over West Brom on Saturday to prompt memories from his commanding time at Newcastle and the odd spurt at Anfield.
It is evident that the pressure of becoming Britain's most expensive ever player affected Carroll while at Anfield, and that is natural - just look at Fernando Torres's fall from grace at Chelsea - and his loan move to West Ham was a perfect chance to be first choice at a Premier League club in an attempt to find his feet again.
Unfortunately it has not worked out as well as Carroll, Sam Allardyce or even Brendan Rodgers had hoped, the frontman struggling with a number of niggling injuries, but the spell has not been without its positives.
Liverpool have struggled up front this season, with Fabio Borini netting just one Premier League goal all season thanks to his own medical nightmares before January arrival Daniel Sturridge's strong start was halted by similar fitness setbacks.
So it has been left to the quite remarkable skill of Luis Suarez to keep Liverpool within faint touching distance of the Champions League-chasing clubs. While it is far from truthful to describe the Uruguayan as a one-dimensional player, Carroll does offer a strong, towering threat that Suarez certainly does not - the unstoppable header against West Brom a prime example.
And let us not forget that Carroll is only 24-years-old. There is still a long way to go before he reaches his potential and surely FSG are not willing to take a large loss on a player at least two seasons off his expected peak.
Does the striker not deserve the chance to impress under Rodgers? The former Swansea City manager got the best out of the six-foot-plus Danny Graham at the Liberty Stadium - the now-Sunderland man has struggled since Rodgers's departure - so he could successfully adapt his passing game to integrate Carroll's oh-so-cliched good touch for a big man.
Either way, Carroll must be given a chance to shine at Anfield, as he evidently has the required talent to succeed.
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|"In reality, Liverpool neither want nor need Carroll"
By James McManus
The only reason why Andy Carroll is being talked about in terms of an Anfield return is due to a lack of viable suitors.
Should he start next season at Anfield, it would be little more than a face-saving move on Liverpool's part. In reality, they neither want nor need him.
Having witnessed at first-hand what he has to offer, West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has already spoken of "negotiations" taking place at the end of the season in an attempt to drive down his price. The narrative of an unlikely return is only being spun to try and flush out more interest in Carroll.
Brendan Rodgers' reasons for exiling Carroll at the start of his Liverpool reign remain just as pertinent today. The Northern Irishman’s preferred 4-3-3 formation works best with a fluid focal point. Luis Suarez is perfect, while Daniel Sturridge has proven adept in that position since signing in January from Chelsea.
Talk of starting Carroll on some sort of mobility training programme is too little, too late. That horse has already well and truly bolted. He has a style, Liverpool have theirs and they are simply not compatible.
That's not even to mention his incredibly ropey injury record, which sees him constantly trying to play his way back to fitness and form. Indeed, he's started just 41 times in the league since moving to Anfield two-and-a-half-years ago. Reliability is hardly his main asset.
Meanwhile, with Rodgers having invested heavily during the January transfer window on Sturridge and Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho and add in the fact that the club's net debt is on the rise it all points to a situation where the manager is going to need to raise funds in order to spend again in the summer.
Despite his many faults, Carroll remains a saleable asset, although one who represents an expensive flop who arrived during the 18-month period under both Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli; a period most fans would like to forget. It's time to move on.
The club are still paying for such wanton excess and belts have been tightened with the wage bill ever since. The case for keeping Carroll falls down when approached from both an economic and stylistic perspective. Only an emotional bout of 'what if' syndrome counts in his favour and a swift exit would suit all parties best.
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