Liverpool have headed to the United States for the International Champions Cup, which sounds like the Flint Michigan Mega Bowl. This pre-season friendly tournament, which sounds contradictory in its own right, begins for the Reds in Chicago on July 27 against Olympiakos. Liverpool will also play Roma in a separate friendly in Boston on July 23.
Here a few players in particular you should keep an eye on...
All of Brendan Rodgers’ fresh faces will be there, plus Loic Remy will join up if his proposed transfer from QPR goes through. Rickie Lambert, Emre Can, Adam Lallana and Lazar Markovic are all among the squad and it’ll be interesting how the boss uses them and how they preform. Of course you shouldn’t read into it too much because it’s just pre-season, Iago Aspas looked a stud in games that didn’t count, but it’ll be fun to read too much into it anyway.
It’ll be important for the latest additions to hit the ground running. It’d be nice for Lambert and Remy to find the back of the net and ease a little pressure off themselves. Lallana and Markovic will look to get comfortable in the squad and pick up tendencies from the likes of Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge and others.
Can hopes to put the slight knocks he's suffered that kept him out of the Brondby match and limited him to just 20 minutes against Preston behind him.
Agger has been a brilliant servant for the club, loyal since the day he arrived from the aforementioned Brondby. He could have left when Manchester City and Barcelona came calling when times were tough at Anfield, but instead he went out and got “YNWA” tattooed on his knuckles.
Now he’s been subject to transfer talk since the season ended and it’s time for Liverpool to repay him with a little loyalty. He can, and I think will, prove on this tour that at the very least he’s a great veteran option to slot in due to injury or poor form from the starting center-halves.
Suso has recently returned from a season-long loan spell at Spanish side Almeria. The 20-year-old had three goals and seven assists during that spell, helping his temporary employers avoid the drop by six points.
This pre-season campaign is his time to prove to Rodgers that he’s ready to stay at the club and help the squad compete in all competitions. He bounced back from a poor clearance that directly led to a goal against Brondby to scoring a very good goal against Preston. Suso will look for more of the latter than the former against Roma, Olympiakos, Manchester City and AC Milan.
Lastly, there’s 18-year-old wonderkid Ibe. Liverpool have scored three goals in pre-season so far, all assisted by Ibe. He could have a goal or two himself had his finishing not let him down. He’s very raw, but has been very effective and the sky is the limit for the Englishman.
These four matches will help Rodgers decide what the best course of action is for Ibe. He could certainly help the first team with his pace, directness and dribbling, but he certainly won’t be starting week in and week out.
The manager faces a tough decision: to keep Ibe with the team so Rodgers and his staff can watch him and teach him every day while having him help the team, or to let him go out on loan where he can play every week.
Liverpool’s trip to America will be interesting and helpful. In about two weeks we’ll know a lot more about the squad than we do right now, and we get to sit back and watch it all unfold against quality opposition.