Brendan Rodgers’ nearly 100 percent approval rating amongst Liverpool fans has slipped since the late stages of last season, but his comments regarding what’s necessary to replace Steven Gerrard will likely be met by a big supporters’ high-five.
[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup ]
And while that move would likely be needed anyway given Gerrard’s regression as the on-field heart of Liverpool’s team, regardless of the fact that he remains its soul in the locker room, it’s certain the Reds need a new engine… and it can’t be some young soul trying to grow into it.
The Reds need to spend. Well, spend more.
Rodgers prides himself on promoting young talent but accepts that it is unrealistic to compete with top clubs solely by producing players from within.
“The model at this football club is clear, we want to take young players and develop them into world-class ones, but that can be a long and a difficult process,” the Liverpool manager said. “The owners know that, and they also know that not every player can be a developer if you are going to keep progressing. A large part of our squad will always be young players, but if you want to take those steps forward at times you have to look to bring in some ready-made players.”
It’s a tricky climate, this big money Premier League. Big, ambitious clubs prepare for the departure of vital cogs in style, while “happy to be here” clubs just make do while the next prospect find his place. Not exactly using even exchanges here, but Cesc Fabregas for Frank Lampard at Chelsea will keep you in the hunt right away. Bringing in nothing for Yohan Cabaye at Newcastle will not, even if you’re confident Moussa Sissoko will get it one day.
That’s a mighty difference. Sissoko is now Newcastle’s engine — and may be swapped for Cabaye and money, oddly enough — but the club blew a decent chance to finish near or in European competition last year by selling him at the last minute with no replacement. Not every club can luck out by selling Adam Lallana and having Dusan Tadic not miss a beat in filling the gap.
Liverpool has a few players who can grow into the role, Jordan Henderson and Emre Can among them. But if the Reds are going to thrive, they need a proven top level, maybe even Premier League star to keep them a Champions League contender. Think every engineer linked with Manchester United: Sami Khedira, Kevin Strootman, Ilkay Gundogan, Arturo Vidal… maybe even another Saints raid with Morgan Schneiderlin.