LIVERPOOL’S SEASON’S STORY: PART 1/4 – THE TRANSFER TALES
The 2014/15 season ends this week, with Liverpool playing its final game away at Stoke. Truth be told, Liverpool’s performance this season wasn’t too good as the Reds ended the season trophyless again- for the third year running!
Yet, it wasn’t an entirely unproductive season either. We were very close to winning two trophies, as we reached up to the semi-finals of the FA Cup and the League Cup. Anfield Family covered every single game Liverpool played since the start of the season and we now attempt to bring you the full story of how the season went and what were the big talking points through the months. In this four part series, we analyze what happened during the ten months of action and what were the bright and dark spots.
The transfer tales
Liverpool transfer deals started on 31 May, 2014 when Javi Manquillo signed for the Reds on a two year loan deal from Atletico Madrid. Liverpool’s defensive vulnerabilities were adjudged to be the reason behind the slip of the 2013/14 Premier League title and Manquillo’s signing certainly pleased fans to some extent. A few days later, Adam Lambert became the first official cash signing, as he arrived from Southampton, costing Liverpool £4 million in the process. Rumors about top players joining Liverpool appeared pretty frequently, but after Lambert’s signing not much happened in June. Meanwhile, Luis Alberto became the first player from Liverpool to be out-bound with a year long loan deal signed with Malaga.
Yet, Liverpool fans were dealt a big blow on the 24th of June when Uruguay were playing against Italy in the FIFA World Cup 1st Round game. Halfway through the second half, the Red’s star striker Luis Suarez appeared to bite the shoulders of the opposing defender Giorgio Chiellini, which caused a big furore throughout the world. The news made it into headlines of all major news outlet and the striker received bitter criticism even from Liverpool fans. A lot of fans even demanded Suarez to be sold by the club, while others still came out in support of him. FIFA’s disciplinary committee later decided that the player would be banned from playing the further games in the World Cup and would also be prevented from entering any football stadium for 3 months. So this meant that even if Liverpool kept him for the next season they would miss him for the opening 10 games of the season. It wasn’t thus a matter of if, but when Suarez would be out of Liverpool!
After this frustrating shock, the good news that Liverpool fans had wanted to hear for a long while came true as Adam Lallana signed in from Southampton for a fee of £25 million pounds. The addition of an attacking midfielder like Lallana was expected to bolster the strike capabilities of the team, on the back of a great season for the England international with the Saints in the previous season.
A couple of days later, the German youngster Emre Can became the fourth signing of the season for the Reds at a price of £10 million from Bayer Leverkusen. Initially signed as a center midfielder, the role of the player would be changed by manager Brendan Rodgers successfully as the season progressed.
Finally, Suarez’s exit from Anfield was finalized on the 11th of July after a deal was reached with Spanish giants FC Barcelona at a gigantic price of £75 million. So Liverpool now had a tremendous sum to spend on transfers with the challenge to find a good replacement for Suarez. Yet, halfway through the season it was apparent that there would be nobody to fill the shoes of the striker for the season.
On the 15th of July, the Serbian youngster Lazar Marković arrived at Liverpool as the fourth signing of the season at a fairly high price of £20 million. Considering that the Serbian was only 20, the deal was criticized by several fans. Yet, while he it didn’t start good, after January 2015 fans had generally positive view on the player.
Amidst a lot of uncertainties, Dejan Lovren signed in officially for Liverpool on the 27th of July and became the third Southampton FC player to sign for Liverpool in the transfer window at a cost of £20 million. This signing made it clear that Rodgers wanted to make the defensive line stronger than last year. However, as the season progressed it was seen that Lovren had to improve a lot to guarantee a regular spot in the team.
The Liverpool board then opted to sign the young emerging striker from Divock Origi for a price of £10 million from Lille on July 29. However, the deal proved to be more of a future oriented one as Lille agreed with the deal only if he was to be re-loaned to them for another year. Hence, despite signing in 2014, the player will probably make his Anfield debut only in the 2015/16 season.
After signing the above seven, the Liverpool board now proceeded to sell it’s players youngster Conor Coady became the first player to be officially sold. The young defensive midfielder headed to Huddlesfield Town for a price of £500,000. After him, though, plenty of big names were on the club’s departing list.
On the 8th of August, a deal with Bayern Munich had been finalized to sell experienced goalkeeper Pepe Reina for £2 million. Reina had become a sort of a fans’ favourite for a long time at the club, but he had already been playing for Napoli for a year on loan and the new of his departure wasn’t too surprising. Hence, there was hardly any doubt that Liverpool’s main goalkeeper for the next few months would be Belgian Simon Mignolet.
Youngster Martin Kelly was the next player to be sold as Crystal Palace signed the player on the 14th August for £1.5 million. Two days later, on the 16th of August Liverpool would sign Alberto Moreno from Sevilla for £12 million. Moreno would prove to be one of the best signings of the season with fans highly approving of the Spaniard.
Then on the 25th of August Liverpool fans welcomed the arrival of controversial striker Mario Balotelli. It appeared as if he would be Liverpool’s marquee signing for the season. Yet, the Italian striker didn’t prove to be as lethal to the opposition as expected and so far his signing has been considered to be one of the failures of the season. He would also be the last signing of the entire season for the team, as no player was signed in January.
Four players would join the permanent exit list from the team, which included fan favourite Daniel Agger and the highly talented youngster Suso. Agger, who was regarded to be one of the best players for Liverpool in the recent era had struggled to find a regular spot on the first team due to injury in the previous season. With the new defensive signings, it was clear that Agger would have to fight for first team football, which the Denmark international wasn’t keen on. So, ultimately Agger chose to sign for his childhood team Brøndby for a fee of £3 million.
Meanwhile, after struggling to get regular spots in the first team, the Spanish youngster Suso, who had signed for Liverpool only a couple of years ago, opted for a transfer to AC Milan and a deal was agreed in the winter window for £1 million.
The other two in the departure list included youngster Jack Robinson and Moroccan Oussama Assaidi for £1 million and £4.7 million respectively.
Altogether 17 players from the team were sent on loans, including striker Iago Aspas, and defender Sebastian Coates. After winter though, Jordan Ibe‘s successful loan tenure at Derby County was ended by the club and the player was back at Anfield. With his impressive performances, the player has emerged as the latest fans’ favourite at Anfield. Similarly, young striker Jerome Sinclair‘s loan tenure at Wigan was ended prematurely. However, he wasn’t used much by Rodgers in the squad. Fans have hoped that the player will be showing his true potential in the next season.
Finally, the news that Liverpool fans had dreaded to hear emerged around February as Steven Gerrard declared that this would be his final season for the Reds. He has agreed on a deal to move to the MLS club LA Galaxy for the 2015/16 season. Liverpool now have the extra challenge next season of finding a suitable replacement for the legendary midfielder.
Summarizing the season
Liverpool made a total spending of £117 million on total transfers while receiving £88.7 million on player sales. However, with the exception of Moreno, Can, Lallana and Markovic, the new signings weren’t as successful as expected. In particular, the signings of Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert haven’t yielded much success while the loan tenure of Manquillo hasn’t been considered very successful either. Loren too, was criticized on the grounds that some of his errors had led to a few costly goals for the team. However, compared to the first half, the Croatia international’s performances have been appreciated.
Liverpool crashed out of the Champions League spot this season, while they also failed to win any trophy. The improper handling of the transfer window certainly can be blamed for the failure. Most of the Anfield faithfuls have even called for a change in the team management, with rumors circulating regularly that Rodger’s position may also be under threat. What certainly is clear is that the Liverpool management certainly have to learn from the last season and make some good signings that could propel the team to success.