Liverpool's loan moves assessed: Has Rodgers made the right moves?

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The summer transfer window door has now firmly slammed shut and team's across Europe will have to make-do with their current squad until January's window opens.

For a second successive year Liverpool were major players when it come to imports and exports.

Brendan Rodgers bolstered his squad by bringing seven new faces to Anfield, including £32.5 million striker Christian Benteke from Aston Villa, as the Reds push for a top-four finish in the Premier League this season.

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There have also been players to leave the Merseyside outfit. Last summer Luis Suarez departed for Barceleona for £75 million and Rodgers let another key player in the form of Raheem Sterling leave this year, moving for £49 million to Manchester City.

There too have been a number of faces who've left Liverpool on loan and the question is whether Rodgers was right to let some of them depart for one year.

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Mario Balotelli

A "calculated risk" was how Rodgers described the signing of Balotelli just 12 months ago. With Suarez no longer at the club and limited options in the market, the Northern Irishman chose Balotelli over Samuel Eto'o in search for goals. 

Whether Eto'o would have been successful or not is another question, but many Kopites would have rather signed the Cameroon international on a free transfer instead of Balotelli for £16 million from AC Milan. Whether some did not think it at the time, in hindsight it would have been a much better move.

The Italian did not even flatter to deceive during his maiden season at Anfield; ultimately, he failed like the majority predicted. He scored just four goals in all competitions and could not (and would not) adapt to the style of play encouraged by Rodgers.

Just one year after leaving, Balotelli has returned to AC Milan on a one-year loan deal.

For Rodgers, this is seen the best outcome of a bad situation. Given the 25-year-old's poor temperament and failure on the pitch, no team would stump up the cash to purchase the striker. 

With a £90,000-a-week wage bill, Milan will now at least be shrinking Liverpool's already large wage bill. Balotelli also reportedly has a military like contract at the San Siro and and it seems that when boss Siniša Mihajlović says jump, the former Manchester City man responds "How high?"

This could be the shock Balotelli needs. For too long he has been the jester of football and club's have realised the potential that could be unlocked is not worth the risk.

If the Sicily-born forward knuckles down and begins to consistently show the glimpses of his talent we've all seen and scores on a regular basis, he could return to Anfield a changed man hungry to prove Rodgers wrong. Even if he does hit form and both parties agree that Anfield is not the right place for him, Liverpool could well get a large amount of the £16 million for what they paid for the striker back.

If Balotelli does fail at AC Milan and well and truly falters his chances of any team taking him on board then at least Liverpool have saved a year on wages.

Sheyi Ojo

At just 18-years-old and with little first-team experience it came as no surprise when the deal was announced for Ojo to leave on loan to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Ojo has potential beyond many people's expectations and has scored three times for England Under 18's in just eight appearances. Jordon Ibe spent time in the Championship on loan at Birmingham City and Derby County and it did him the world of good and is now a key member of Rodgers' squad.

At a tender age regular first-team football is what young players need. Wolves are a side who have serious Premier League ambitions and will be pushing for promotion again this season after just missing out on a play-off place last term.

Ojo has been doing well at the Black Country outfit and was a pivotal player during their 2-1 win in the second round of the Capital One Cup against Barnet, scoring one and assisting the other. He's been coming off the bench at Wolves mainly and been making an impact by all accounts. If he continues to impress and becomes a regular starter Molineux then he will only continue to develop.

Tiago Ilori

For a player who cost £7 million from Sporting Lisbon two years ago and not made a single appearance, the case of Ilori is a curious one.

When he first arrived there weren't many who expected the centre-back to be part of Rodgers' first-team squad - the Liverpool manager said Illori was one for the future and would have to adapt to the Premier League.

It was soon announced he was to go out on loan to gain first-team action; however, given he needed experience in England, it come a surprise when Grenada was the destination. Ilori left on loan yet again last season, this time to Bordeaux. For a youngster who's come from abroad and has to develop physically it is quite shocking Liverpool allowed Ilori to move abroad once again.

Given the fee paid for him and the reputation he gained turning out for Portugal Under-21's, a newly promoted team to the Premier League or well-established Championship side would have relished the chance of having his services for a season.

Rodgers said that Ilori was to come into Liverpool's first-team squad this campaign after impressing for Portugal during the Under-21's European Championship this summer, where he had Harry Kane in his back pocket during his country's 1-0 win against England Under-21's.

Liverpool's choice of centre-backs aren't the most inspiring and their 3-0 loss to West Ham United at Anfield last weekend highlighted that big improvements are needed in defence

Dejan Lovren could well find himself on the bench away against Manchester United next game and Martin Skrtel's position is too not secure following a weak performance against the Hammers.

The Reds have Mamadou Sakho and Kolo Toure as back-ups. Again, both players have made numerous mistakes in the past and are not fully convincing.

Instead of Rodgers contemplating the idea of using Ilori - the upcoming Capital One Cup clash against Carlisle United was an ideal opportunity - the defender has went out on loan once again, this time to Aston Villa.

It is at least one year too late. Ilori badly needed Premier League experience as early as possible and Liverpool will no doubt have left a sour taste in his mouth. Villa have an option to buy following the year long loan deal and if Ilori impresses they'll no doubt activate that clause.

If Ilori transfers the form he showed for Portugal this summer, where he proved he could match the physical English players, then Rodgers could well end up red-faced.

Lazar Markovic

Much like Balotelli, Markovic has also been carted off on loan just one year after joining Liverpool.

£20 million is what the Serbia international cost from Benfica and the winger opted to choose Anfield over a host of clubs including Chelsea.

Markovic's first season at Anfield was hit and miss. His showed glimpses of his talent and why he arrived with a the Reds with a stellar reputation but did not perform on a consistent basis.

The 20-year-old was given a number of opportunities by Rodgers during the 2014/15 season, including the FA Cup semi-final clash against Aston Villa, but rarely was the menacing attacker that helped Benfica reach the Europa League final.

Markovic was not included in Liverpool's 18 man squad against Stoke City, Bournemouth and Arsenal this season and has now moved to Turkish outfit Fenerbahce for one season.

Ironically, what the Reds needed against West Ham last weekend was a player like Markovic. His best performance was against Basel at home in the Champions League. Rodgers called upon Markovic from the bench at half-time when Liverpool were 1-0 down and told the youngster to be aggressive going forward.

Liverpool were crying out for this sort of player when 2-0 down against West Ham and had nobody to come off the bench to really take the game to the opponent.

Liverpool too have a hectic fixture list this campaign competing in the Europa League and will want to go as far as possible in the Capital One Cup and FA Cup.

Given the form Markovic showed at Benfica, he is a proven talent in the Europa League and he would have been an asset to have in the squad.

Now Rodgers has reverted to 4-3-3 Markovic would have played out wide and has instructions to penetrate the oppositions' back-four. Width is where the Reds have lacked this campaign and not enough service for wide areas has been given to Benteke.

Will Liverpool come to regret letting any of these players leave?

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Mario Balotelli
Brendan Rodgers
Lazar Markovic
Premier League

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