It is no secret that Liverpool’s strikers have failed to impress in 2014-15 following the loss of Luis Suarez to Barcelona. In fact, Liverpool need just 51 goals in the last two games to match last season’s goal total. Might be a bit of a stretch.
Heading into the summer 2105 transfer window, Liverpool’s top priority must be striker. Not just buying a striker, but selling some (most?) of the 6 strikers they currently hold on their books. Daniel Sturridge, Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert, Fabio Borini, Iago Aspas, and Divock Origi make up an overpopulated and underwhelming striker depth chart for the Reds. Something has to give.
Iago Aspas has stated he hope Sevilla will sign him on a permanent deal this summer. With the option to purchase clause being a mere £5m for Aspas, I don’t see Sevilla passing that up. Aspas has scored 10 goals in 19 appearances for Sevilla this season, which is nearly as much as all Liverpool strikers combined across all competitions.
Next out the door is likely Fabio Borini. Rumor has it that Lazio is very interested in bringing the Italian back to his home country for roughly £12m. Considering Liverpool paid £11m for Borini back in 2012, that is not a bad return on investment. Especially when you consider how infrequently Borini has featured, and how poor his performances have been when he has.
There remains some mystery surrounding the status of Mario Balotelli. Many say he’s definitely off, while some insist Rodgers will keep him around for another season. Sampdoria’s president has said on multiple occasions that he would love to bring Mario Balotelli back to Italy to pair wit Samuel Eto’o. While Sampdoria doesn’t have pockets as deep as the biggest clubs in the world, they could certainly afford to at least give Liverpool their money back. Despite Luis Suarez’s recent endorsement of Balotelli ( http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/former-liverpool-fc-striker-luis-9241571) I think Mario Balotelli is bound to be sold. Rodgers has never seemed too keen on the lad.
Everyone loves a feel-good story and Rickie Lambert is exactly that. Unfortunately, he is no more than that. The lad who was released from the academy making his way back into the first team over a decade later certainly has the makings of a great sports movie, but unfortunately the rest of the movie would be a bit bleak. Rickie Lambert has failed to impress during his time at Liverpool, and he certainly seems destined for a spot with a lower mid-table club, where I fully believe he could contribute and be successful. The pressure and rigor of playing for a club with aspirations for UCL can be a bit overwhelming for many, and I think the task is just too big for Lambert. I wish him the best, but I fully expect him to be sold this summer. Anything more than £2m would be gravy.
Most supporters feel it is inevitable that Divock Origi returns to Anfield and is counted among the first team squad, but I am more skeptical. Origi has struggled mightily this season. He has scored just 8 goals in 31 league appearance for Lille. During the season, Origi managed to go 5 months without scoring a goal, before netting a hat trick in mid-march. This lack of consistency shows Origi has a ways to go before he can contributed to the team, and another loan deal might be the best option for him. But with 4 other striker departures likely, Rodgers might have no choice but to hold on to Origi.
Pretty much the only striker on Liverpool’s squad who is guaranteed to stay is Daniel Sturridge. Sturridge’s time at Liverpool has been marred by injury after injury, but there is no denying his quality when healthy. He is the best goal-scoring threat on the roster of current. Rodgers will need to be careful about building the squad around Sturridge though. He has missed almost the entire 2014-15 season due to injury, and a striker of equal or greater caliber must be brought in to ensure we do not over-rely on a player who may not see the pitch.
Alexandre Lacazette is one of the best young strikers in European football. He will be very sought-after by many big clubs. Liverpool do not have UCL to entice him, but we are able to offer him something that most bigger clubs will not be able to, and that is playing time. Liverpool will need to break into the piggy bank to give Lacazette the wages he will inevitably require, but that will be necessary to sign any top-level striker this summer.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is another name floating around. The Dortmund forward has scored 22 goals across all competitions this year. Even spending most of last season has a backup to Reus and Lewandowski, Aubameyang manged 13 goals in 32 appearances, mostly as a late sub. With Dortmund’s failure to make UCL and Jurgen Klopp departing at the end of the season, the move would make sense for Aubameyang if we were able to offer him better wages and more first-team playing time. The good thing about PEA is that he could likely be had for under £20m, which would give us resources to sign another goal-scoring forward this window as well.
Mauro Icardi is another name floating around the transfer rumor mill. The 22 year-old Inter forward from Argentina is another one of brightest young attacking players in European football. Icardi has scored 17 league goals for Inter this season. Probably one of the more unlikely transfer targets for Liverpool, as the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City have their eyes on the young Argentine and Liverpool would be hard pressed to match the transfer fee or wages.
And finally, Danny Ings. Ings began the season with Burnley playing pretty well. Since then, he has really struggled. In the midst of a relegation battle, Ings has disappeared for his side, failing to score in nearly 2 months. This is not the caliber striker that Liverpool needs, but it is the caliber striker we tend to sign. Color me unimpressed.
All we know for certain is that it is time for a complete overhaul of Liverpool’s striker situation. This summer will be full of departures and arrivals, and one can only hope the transfer committee understands that now is the time for quality over quantity. As poor as this season has felt, we were likely just a solid striker away from making top 4.