With the £16 million acquisition of AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli, it seems that Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has put a cap on his side's summer spending and, in the process, has seemingly completed his squad.
Summer of success
Where it was once thought that Liverpool Football Club could not compete without godsend Luis Suarez, they now look on the surface a more mature and well rounded side.
Liverpool’s spending has seen seven new faces enter Merseyside for a total of over £100 million. Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Emre Can, Lazar Markovic, Dejan Lovren, Javier Manquillo, Alberto Moreno, and now Italian striker Balotelli have all signed in an attempt to bolster the club in the wake of Suarez’s departure to FC Barcelona.
Although the Uruguayan’s sale appeared to stunt Liverpool’s chances for the forthcoming season, Rodgers & Co have exceeded many’s expectations in superseding Suarez with an array of young (and crucially) quality players.
Not only has Rodgers added depth to a previously bare and vacant squad, but has also brought back the fear factor that brought Liverpool to within touching distance of the title last season.
The addition of Balotelli will in time prove to be the important marquee signing that not only brings confidence to the Merseyside club itself, but who will also strike fear into other Premier League suitors. In particular fellow contenders for an illustrious top four finish.
It is an undeniable fact that in times of crisis, Liverpool simply had no one to bring off their bench in order to sway a match their way. This is partly the reason why Manchester City ran away with the title in their back pockets at the end of May.
Whereas Manuel Pellegrini had Alvaro Negredo, James Milner and Jesus Navas to bring on off the bench, Rodgers struggled, with the likes of Victor Moses and Iago Aspas at times his best options.
But now, with the addition of seven proven, high-level and indeed quality players brought in, Rodgers now has a bolstering squad at his disposal, with Balotelli the pick of the lot.
Liverpool are now covered in every single position across the pitch. With strikers we see Daniel Sturridge, Rickie Lambert, Fabio Borini (for the time being), and Balotelli. Wingers include Raheem Sterling, Lazar Markovic and Adam Lallana. Lallana as well can play as an offensive playmaker, a position shared by Philippe Coutinho.
Moving down into midfield Rodgers has the pick of Jordan Henderson, Steven Gerrard, Joe Allen, Emre Can, as well as Lucas Levia.
If not anywhere but in defence was where Liverpool’s achilles heel lied last season, and now they have at least four experienced centre backs to choose from: Mamadou Sakho, Daniel Agger (for now), Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren.
To the left and right we see two new wing backs to send Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson to a well deserved spot on the bench, with Javier Manquillo and Alberto Moreno having arrived.
Reason for optimism
Although last Sunday’s win over Southampton appeared a tougher task than what was expected, Liverpool fans can still look forward to the following season with high optimism.
However with optimism comes expectation and with expectation, many football fans know, comes disappointment. It appears that on the back of last season's near title triumph, that fans of Liverpool are afraid to be optimistic for the forthcoming season.
With UEFA Champions League football adding more games over the span of an already long and gruelling season, bettering last term's achievements looks an impossible task.
However this outlook is both senseless and absurd. Whereas many critics and pundits look to having no European football as a benefit to a club, as was the case with Liverpool last season and indeed Manchester United this season, one must look upon the achievement of reaching the competition as the reason as to why they are competing in the first place.
If last season Liverpool aimed and strived to get into the top four, only for this season to look upon UEFA Champions League football as a disadvantage, then one must question why they should bother at all.
The arrival of top level European football back at Anfield, after four seasons without, is nothing but good, regardless of how it affects Premier League performance.
But above all of this squabbling, it appears that where frustration lay at the heart of Liverpool fans, optimism may now make way. Indeed Liverpool would have struggled to balance European football and the Premier League in recent seasons.
But now, with the depth and quality that Rodgers has brought into the club, it is evident that Liverpool can balance both in a season that promises to be the most expectant in years.
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