This season has been a difficult one for Liverpool, however it would only take a few more players in certain areas to get them Champions League football that they want, rather than the total overhaul that a few fans are talking about, and I will look at some potential signings that would allow Liverpool to break back into the top four.
- Juan Jesus
At the young age of 23 Juan Jesus has a lot of potential and he has been one of the standout players in an otherwise average Inter Milan team this season. Everyone knows about Liverpool’s recent defensive frailties, which were made even more obvious this season without the goals of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge to help cover them up. Liverpool will also be wanting to look for long term defensive replacements for Martin Škrtel who they can rely on and it seems as though he would fit those criteria as he has won 60% of his aerial duels (just less than Škrtel’s 66%). He also hasn’t made any defensive errors in the Serie A this season, where Škrtel has made five in the Premier League. It also looks unlikely that Inter will be able to reach Europe this season so this could be something that would attract him to join Liverpool, who will most likely be competing in the Europa League next season.
- Aymeric Laporte
Laporte is another young defender (turns 21 on May 27) who would be an ideal replacement for Škrtel and has had a very good season for Athletic Bilbao and also looks set to get a call up to the French national team if he keeps playing as well as he has been, after previously playing at under-17, under-18, under-19 and under-21 levels. He isn’t quite as reliable as Juan Jesus however as he has made four errors in Liga BBVA this season, one of which has led to a goal, but this is still one less error than Škrtel has made in the Premier League, and mistake are expected for such a young player who still hasn’t reached his potential. He has also won the same amount of his aerial duels this season as Škrtel. The only thing that would stop Liverpool from signing him is the €27.5 million buyout clause in his contract, and the fact that Athletic are likely to want more than that, not only that but Manchester United who can offer Champions League football next season are looking at him and are willing to pay upwards of £30 million for his services.
- Alexandre Lacazette
This season has been the breakthrough season for this young striker, and although Liverpool have strikers they don’t have one who is prolific except Sturridge who just hasn’t been fit this past season. Lambert is aging, Balotelli looks like more of a liability and although Origi is returning from his loan, he isn’t naturally a centre forward. Lacazette on the other hand is, and he has shown that by scoring a total of 27 goals already this season, which is amazingly eight more than Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He has also created 52 chances for his teammates this season and has completed over half of his take ons (out of Sterling, Sturridge, Coutinho, Markovic and Balotelli only Coutinho has completed more). Again he is a young player (23 years old) which means he can only get better. However his current team Lyon can offer Champions League football next season, as can a lot of the other teams who are said to be interested in him (Manchester United and Chelsea to name a couple). So if Liverpool want him they will need to move quickly and they will also have to be willing to pay the money, which in the past they haven’t been willing to do.
- Luiz Gustavo
Luiz Gustavo is a holding midfielder and is the oldest player on the list at 27 years of age, but there have been a lot of injuries over the last few seasons to Lucas, who is really Liverpool’s only defensive minded midfielder and there is a feeling amongst Liverpool supporters that they win more games when Lucas is playing. If they were able to sign Gustavo then Lucas might have to take a seat on the bench even when he is fit, because the statistics show that Gustavo would probably be preferred by Rodgers to sit in front of the defence. Over the course of this season Gustavo’s pass accuracy is 88% which is high but still only 1% higher than Lucas’. Both players make an average of 2 tackles a game, however Gustavo makes over double the amount of interceptions a game that Lucas makes and another benefit to having Gustavo in the squad is that he can also play at centre back, so maybe the two players could potentially play in the same starting eleven. But once again he is at a club that can offer him Champions League football next season.
- Roberto Firmino
Another young Brazilian Firmino is currently a target for a number of teams in the Premier League including both Manchester clubs and it is clear to see why, comparing Firmino to team of the year midfielder Coutinho he seems to possess a similar amount of ability despite only playing for a mid-table Hoffenheim team. This season he has six goals and nine assists to Countinho’s five in both categories, he has also completed more take ons and has created more chances for his teammates than Coutinho. One thing that Liverpool will be able to offer him is European football next season, which Hoffenheim can’t, and like Juan Jesus and Laporte this might convince him to make the move over from mainland Europe to the North of England. Firmino does seem to be playing a bit below par in comparison to the 2013/14 season where he managed 11 assists and 16 goals, but the numbers that he put up this season are still good and if he was to transfer to Liverpool he would be among the calibre of player where he would be able to reach heights like those of the 13/14 season.