How Liverpool can break into the top four next season

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With the 2012/2013 season over, Brendan Rodgers has a big summer ahead. His first season in charge was seen as a transition period. 

A time where different philosophies and styles were being introduced and changed in order to mould the group of players to how Rodgers wanted them to perform. 

Whilst no trophies returned to Anfield this year and European qualification was missed out on, Liverpool seemed to have progress under Rodgers. 

The slow start can be put down to getting used to the new system, and that appears a valid argument seeing as Liverpool performed much better in the second half of the season. 

Factor in the additions of Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge and progress has been evident. The season coming to a close could even be considered a shame for Liverpool as they have performed to a high level with reasonable consistency over the last couple of months. The hard work to improve further starts now though.

The 2013/2014 season will be Rodgers’ second and excuses that have validation for the first season won’t wash in the second. The owner’s and the fans will be expecting more progress, and a proper challenge for a Champions League place. 

Brendan Rodgers will be under pressure to deliver this and much will depend on the additions he makes to the squad over the summer.

The goalkeeper position has been strength for Liverpool since Pepe Reina joined the club. He is good shot stopper with quick reflexes, commands the area well and has excellent distribution with both his hands and his feet. However, this season has been slightly disappointing compared to the high standard of performances we have seen over recent years. 

Reina has underperformed this season making some costly mistakes along the way; none more so than the mistake against Manchester City that cost Liverpool two additional points. 

Rumours have it that Reina may be a target for Barcelona and if it’s the case, Liverpool has to replace him with another quality keeper. However, I personally feel Reina would be better staying at Liverpool. He is an icon with the fans, and Liverpool play a style that he likes. 

It would also be better for Liverpool if he stayed as when he is playing well, he is amongst the best in the world.

In defence is where Liverpool should look to strengthen the most. Usually Liverpool are reasonably solid at the back however, this season has highlighted a distinct weakness in the side. 

A need for a centre back is evident with the retirement of Jamie Carragher, and the inconsistency of Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates. The new partner for Daniel Agger should have pace and strength but also be able to play football and feel comfortable on the ball. 

Ideal solutions to this problem in my opinion would be Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Toby Alderweireld or Kurt Zouma. All three players are young, quick and excellent with the ball at their feet. They would make a good partner for Agger, and provide a long-term solution to the centre back area.

Another defensive concern is at left back. Jose Enrique is a good player although a bit suspect defensively, but he has no competition for the role. Liverpool could do with bringing someone in to challenge for the role as well as improving squad depth. My selection for this role would be Danny Rose if he were to be available. Rose has had an excellent season in an underperforming Sunderland side where he has easily been amongst their best players. 

His value will have definitely shot up since last season, and there is no means to suggest Tottenham wishing to sell him but should they be open to a transfer, Liverpool should attempt to bring him to Anfield as he is quick, effective at the back and going forward as well as being young and hungry.

Lucas Leiva has been excellent over the past few seasons. After suffering a dreadful start to life on Merseyside with many fans calling for him to be sold, he has proven every single doubter wrong and has become a vital cog in the Liverpool machine. 

His work often goes unnoticed but it is key to how Liverpool win the ball back and creates space. This season wasn’t his greatest but he played on the back of a long-term injury so next season is likely to see him back to his top quality performances. His injury however highlighted a key weakness. 

When Lucas isn’t available, Liverpool look a lot more suspect in that area without a good defensive midfielder to cover. Therefore it would make sense to bring someone to the club in that position to cover Lucas but also provide competition. The player needs to be positional aware, a good tackler with good stamina with a good temperament. 

A suggestion for this role from myself would be Mohamed Diame. He matches all the criteria whilst adding pace and a good shot to the mix. He also has Premier League experience and is at an age where he has a sell on value should it not work out.

Attacking wise Liverpool are short on two players. A wide player who can also cut inside and create chances would be an excellent addition as well as a creative midfield player who can contribute in the middle and going further forward. 

With Coutinho’s excellent impact down the left, the team is crying out for similar down the right hand side. Downing has had a decent season to be fair, but it is an area needing to be improved to challenge for the top four. 

Raheem Sterling is an excellent prospect who has had a very impressive season, but it would be a heavy weight on his shoulders to expect him to perform brilliantly every game at his tender age. 

He needs to be around the squad, and will get games, but an addition to the right hand side is needed. I feel one of Hatem Ben Arfa and Arda Turan would be good additions to the squad with both possessing good creative abilities and experience.

For the other attacking midfield player, I believe it has to be Christian Eriksen. He is one of Europe’s top young players and would be a brilliant coup for Liverpool. He is very creative, hard working and fits perfectly with Liverpool’s style. Anything below £20 million for Eriksen would be a steal and Liverpool should do whatever they can to bring him to Anfield.

Lastly a final addition depends on whether Andy Carroll stays. If he leaves then another striker would need to be added as I don’t think Borini is quite cut out to be the third main striker at Liverpool. If he stays then another striker wouldn’t be necessary. Should the big Geordie leave, a good replacement would be Matej Vydra. 

The young Czech striker has been excellent on loan at Watford winning the Championship’s player of the season. He is young, clearly talented and knows where the goal is. Whether Udinese would be willing to part with him is a different story but he is someone I would like Rodgers to pursue if Carroll left.

Clearly these transfers depend massively on finance. 

Players such as Martin Skrtel, Stewart Downing, Sebastian Coates and Andy Carroll would have to leave for all of these players to come in but these additions would make Liverpool a real force next season.

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