The football season is now a forgotten memory and we’re all getting our fix by watching Roy Hodgson’s England. What a terrible world we live in. You know you’re desperate for something better when you’re debating the worth of Vardy & Kane playing out wide in order to accommodate the ever-widening Rooney. In essence, no one cares.
When not trying desperately to engage with an international team full of people you don’t like and managed by a man you might walk past if he was on fire, the rest of our footballing brain is occupied by only one thought: Transfers.
Toys Out Of The Pram
Whenever I discuss football with one of my best friends the conversation inevitably turns towards the opinions on Twitter. His constant refrain is that there’s no point engaging with people on the social media soapbox, that it brings out the very worst in people. I’m constantly disagreeing with him and pointing out that I’ve met loads of brilliant people via Twitter and I am able, generally speaking, to avoid the idiots.
When it comes to transfer stories, however, we’re all idiots. People are going absolutely crazy that Liverpool haven’t yet signed Messi, Ronaldo, Götze and more. Toys are being thrown out of prams because of a perceived notion that the Reds are once again falling behind their rivals.
Fair to say #LFC are really struggling to sign proven players this window. Klopp or not, be prepared for a window of pain.
— Callum Wright (@Mr_CallumWright) June 2, 2016
Never mind that it’s only the start of June. Not for the likes of Mr. Wright the fact that the transfer window doesn’t open for another month. No, instead people are apoplectic that Ian Ayre isn’t flying all around the world and tying deals down left right and centre. Because Manchester City have signed Ilkay Gundogan it’s clear that Liverpool are once again doomed to a summer of mediocrity. The failings of the past will once again rear their ugly head.
Here’s the thing, though: We’ve already signed three players. Two of those signings fill in key positions. More importantly, though, Jürgen Klopp has never been the sort of manager who likes to go out of his way to sign superstar players. In fact, whenever he has the result has been pretty disappointing. So let’s all chill out a bit and not get too downhearted just yet. The manager has proven with the likes of Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana that he can polish a player previously thought of as having turd-like qualities, so imagine what he’ll be able to do with players he’s actually chosen to work with!
Nothing makes Liverpool fans lose their cool as much as an internet rumour about one of their best players leaving the club. Year after year we’ve had to put up with it, especially for the last two summers when Luis Suarez departed for Barcelona and Raheem Sterling abandoned us for the riches of Manchester City.
Twitter was not a fun place to be, then, when news emerged that Paris St. Germain have made our little magician their top target for the summer. But is there enough in the rumours to cause genuine panic and worry? Are we liable to be bidding goodbye to our third prized asset in a row come August?
In my opinion the answer is a resounding ‘no’. There are numerous reasons for this, not least of which is the fact that the Brazilian signed a new five-year contract in February last year and we all know how stubborn John Henry and co. can be about contracts if they want to be. We have another four years of Coutinho left, contractually, and I don’t see any reason why we would give him up so easily.
Another reason for my optimism is that transfer rumours are often games within games, circles within circles, wheels within wheels. PSG have long coveted Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and the player’s performances this campaign suggest that he’s not overly keen on remaining in West London if he can help it. By suggesting they want Coutinho the French champions have let the Belgian know that he’s not the only player on their radar. They’re different types of players, of course, but in essence they’re both mercurial talents who can change games in an instant.
Finally, the other reason I think there’s more to this than meets the eye is the rumour doing the rounds that ‘two or three clubs’ are after little Phil. Would PSG know that? It seems unlikely. Transfer rumours tend to come from either the buying club, the club that wants rid of the player and his representatives. In this instance Liverpool don’t want rid and PSG wouldn’t know how many clubs are after the same player as them, so it’s likely the story is being generated by the player and his people. Why? Well it’s rumoured that the player is on £70k per week wages whilst James Milner is on £150k. Who deserves more?
— Melissa Reddy (@MelissaReddy_) June 3, 2016
I tweeted the other day that the only journalists worth trusting on Liverpool FC transfer stories are Paul Joyce, Tony Barrett and Melissa Reddy. It’s true that others like Simon Hughes, Dominic King and James Pearce are also reliable, but tweets have character limits so I did the best I could. Mel reckons Philippe is going nowhere and, at this stage in the summer, I’m inclined to agree with her.
Talk of Martin Skrtel nowadays seems to be accepting of the fact that his time is up but that he’s been ‘a great servant to the club’. 2013-2014 is mentioned a lot, with the goals he scored in that campaign spoken of highly and used almost as an excuse for why he’s been kept around for so long. For me, though, that ignores the fact that we didn’t win the title because we had a defence that was leakier than a bottomless bucket.
The Slovakian has simultaneously been a ‘great servant’ but also a weak link for the past few years. He has survived at the club as long as he has because there have always been areas of the starting XI that needed sorting out more urgently than his. Time, as they say, waits for no man, however, and it looks as though it has finally caught up with the terrifying looking defender who hasn’t actually been scary to play against for years.
His time at the club is up and he knows it. His goodbye wave to the crowd at the end of the season was an emotional one, but the time is right for him to go. With Joe Gomez likely to emerge as a centre-back of the future, Lucas Leiva a potential ‘old head’ at the back and Joel Matip likely to partner the revitalised Lovren for the majority of games, there’s simply no room for a bloke whose legs have gone and who confuses the hell out of everyone he plays with.
It is with not a small degree of joy that I report the the interest of at least two different Turkish club’s in Skrtel’s services. He made just four starts in the calendar year of 2016 and given we played about 349 games after the turn of the year that’s a pretty damning statistic. His performance against Southampton was a damning enough statistic, of course. Goodbye Martin, and thanks for the memories.
It’s a strange one, this one, but aren’t they all? It’s rumoured that Antonio Conte has made Romelu Lukaku his number one striking option for when the Italian officially takes the reigns at Stamford Bridge. Lukaku, who was famously allowed to leave West London by Jose Mourinho, is reportedly quite keen for a return to his former haunt if no other offers come in for him. If Chelsea miss out, however, then who better to replace him with than his international teammate.Everton want £65 million for Lukaku but Liverpool would probably let Benteke leave for less than half of that, according to the Daily Mail. The powerful striker was brought in for £32.5 million by Brendan Rodgers but has made just 29 appearances for the club and only 14 starts, scoring nine goals in the process. Liverpool want rid, so if Chelsea offer about £25 million then don’t be surprised if he ends up heading off to London on the express train.
There aren’t many rumours about incomings this week, so it’s entirely possible that reporters are just making them up in order to get some clicks. Never has that seemed more likely than in the case of Jordan Amavi, the 22-year-old defender who has spent the majority of there season of the sidelines at Villa Park.
The defender is also wanted by Lyon and AC Milan and the report emerged in the French newspaper L’equipe, so it seems likely that this is being driven either by Lyon, to flush out other suitors, or the player himself as he tries to escape the hell that must be life at Aston Villa. For my money this particular story is lacking any real credibility.
22-year-old Piotr Zielinski has spent the last couple of months flashing his knickers at Jürgen Klopp and doing ‘come to bed eyes’, but up until now nothing much has been done about it from Liverpool’s point of view. The Polish player has spent the last two seasons on loan with Empoli in Serie A, though Udinese is his parent club.
His efforts to seemingly force through a move have now hit new heights, with the playmaker seen in a video taking part in shooting drills whilst wearing a Liverpool shirt with his name on the back. Any attempts have subtly have been abandoned and if the Reds don’t make a move for him soon then I half expect him to turn up at Anfield with a begging letter, demanding to see Klopp before asking him why he’s been leading him on if he didn’t intend to strike up a relationship. The Reds could face competition from the likes of Napoli and Roma, but the player himself is making clear where he fancies going.
Until next week…