Liverpool have completed the signing of Steven Caulker in a move that has confused many.
After being linked with Borussia Dortmund defender Neven Subotic, Reds fans were quick to express their dismay at Caulker’s addition.
The 24-year-old has joined from QPR on a loan deal until the end of the season. Rangers had already shipped Caulker out on loan to Southampton but that deal has been terminated to enable the Liverpool move.
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Caulker was touted as a future England defender when he emerged on the scene while on loan at Swansea City from Tottenham Hotspur. He made 26 Premier League appearances for the Swans in the 2011-12 season, and, after featuring infrequently for Spurs the following season, was set to become a leading figure in Cardiff City’s defence when the Welsh club signed him for £8 million in the summer of 2013.
Caulker’s career has stalled since. When Cardiff were relegated in 2014, QPR gave him another shot at Premier League football, only to suffer relegation themselves in 2015.
Yet Caulker wasn’t considered a part of Rangers’ promotion plans and he joined Southampton on loan in July. He made just one league start for the Saints in a fruitless spell.
And herein lies the issue. Why did QPR, a club itching to return to the Premier League at the first attempt, deem Caulker a surplus to requirements?
Caulker endured a difficult 2014-15 season and was part of a defence that leaked a staggering 73 goals, 10 more than the second-worst defence.
He was bad. But then again, that adjective could be used to describe every one of QPR’s players besides Charlie Austin.
It seems the single intelligible motivation for QPR’s hierarchy offloading Caulker is to help ease the wage bill. But surely keeping a young defender with obvious talent and Premier League experience would have given the club a better chance of gaining promotion, and thus a chunk of the Premier League’s new £5.136 billion TV deal, which comes into effect next season?
It was another show of poor business by owner Tony Fernandes and co.
There remain several bad players in the QPR squad that could have been sold to reduce the payroll, including Rob Green, Armand Traore and Karl Henry. Instead, they got rid of the player with something to prove after watching his career stutter.
Clearly unwanted by QPR, the move to Liverpool is seen as a squad bolstering one than actually improving the team. When Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren return from hamstring injuries Caulker will likely find himself on the bench.
What appeared a promising career, Caulker is now stuck in limbo.
Despite Caulker’s addition, the Reds remain interested in 27-year-old Subotic and Schalke defender Joel Matip according to reports.
Caulker is available for tomorrow’s game against Arsenal. Liverpool will also welcome back Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho from injury.