Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Liverpool FC: Transfer Analysis

Following the season review, as well as the general player analysis and the more detailed BPL performance analysis, its time I look at how the club's signings fared over the course of last season.

Fabio Borini

Borini was new manager Brendan Rodgers' first signing for the club, completing a transfer on Jul 13, 2012 for a reported fee of  €13.3 million plus bonuses (equivalent to about £10.5 million). He had previously worked with Rodgers during his stint as a youth player at Chelsea and also during his loan spell at Swansea. He nearly hit the ground running, scoring a goal in the Europa League, but the goals did not come. He hit a barren patch, and failed to score any more goals, before he was sidelined for 3 months with a broken foot, leaving the club woefully short of striking options.

He returned to action in January, but dislocated his shoulder, spending another 10 weeks on the sidelines. Although it was expected that he would take no further part during the season, he returned to score his first Premier League goal against Newcastle within a minute of coming on as a substitute. This was followed by another couple of impressive displays as a substitute in the final games of the season.

There has been little end product from the Italian, owing to limited playing time mainly due to injuries, suggesting the outlay of £10.5 million on a player who had barely made 50 appearances before joining Liverpool and scored a goal every four games was not justified. However, his performance in the final few games of the season after his return from the shoulder injury suggests that there is potential for better and more consistent performances. 

A full preseason will no doubt help him gel better with the team and improve his understanding with his fellow forwards, his finishing in front of goal has left much to be desired, with him being unable to finish many clear cut scoring chances. With the current squad, his most likely position seems to be in a wider role out on the left which allows him to drift in and get into good positions in the box, and some of his best performances this season have come in that role.

Rating: 4.5/10

Joe Allen

After a protracted transfer saga, Joe Allen finally signed a long-term contract for Liverpool from Swansea in deal worth £15 million. Unlike his former Swansea team-mate Borini, Allen put in some good performances initially, being voted Man of the Match on the club's official website by fans and journalists for his performance against Manchester City in the second league game of the season.  He went on to win the Liverpool Player of the Month award for August 2012.

However, a loss of form coincided with the return of Lucas from injury, and Allen lost his starting role in the team. When he was given the chance, it was more often in a more advanced role than the one he had excelled in during his initial games for the club. He scored two goals, one against Oldham in the FA Cup and one against Zenit in the Europa League, from his more advanced role. However, Henderson continued to be preferred instead of him in the advanced role and the January arrival of Coutinho further limited his playing opportunities, and he was ruled out for the remainder of the season in March due to a shoulder injury that required surgery.

Allen filled in admirably for Lucas at the start of the season, and although he lost his place in the side as the season wore on, his performances suggest that he has much to contribute to this team. This sentiment has been echoed by former Liverpool midfield battler Dietmer Hamann, who feels that Allen's best is still to come, and he may yet become a key player for Liverpool in the coming years.

Rating: 5.5/10

Oussama Assaidi

In mid August, Liverpool agreed a deal to sign Assaidi for an undisclosed fee thought to be in the region of £2.5m. At the time, manager Brendan Rodgers had hailed the deal, saying that he was "delighted", describing Assaidi as "an exciting player...that will excite the crowd". However, owing to an injury that he was carrying before he signed, he had to wait till the Europa League match against Young Boys to make his debut.

Due to impressive performances from young fellow wingers Raheem Sterling and Suso, Assaidi failed to break through to Liverpool's regular starting eleven, being restricted to warming the bench or making the occasional appearance in the dying minutes of a game. When he has been on the pitch, he has displayed the desire to take on the full back and has the ability to cut in and take a crack at goal.

He has made just 12 appearances for the club, and, according to most sources, seems destined to be sold during this summer's transfer window. Considering the price paid for the player, it wouldn't be a bad bet to keep him at the club till January, just to give him the chance he deserves, but never got.

Rating: 2/10

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Daniel Sturridge

Sturridge was signed as soon as the January window opened, signing a long-term contract for an undisclosed fee thought to be in the region of £12 million. He scored three goals in his first three appearances for the club, becoming the first Liverpool player since Ray Kennedy in 1974 to accomplish this feat, despite not yet playing a full game for the club.  His goals continued with him scoring and assisting against Swansea, scoring against Chelsea, scoring two and assisting one in a thrashing of Newcastle United and his first career hat-trick against Fulham. 

He scored 11 goals and 5 assists in only 16 appearances in all competitions, and took on the responsibility of leading the line admirably during Suarez's absence due to his latest indiscretion, earning a call up to the England squad in the process. At £12 million, he will be a bargain if he continues the performances he has put in this season, already endearing him to the Anfield faithful. 

His excellent understanding with fellow January signing Coutinho gives cause for optimism that he will continue scoring the goals in Suarez's prolonged absence. He finally seems to be fulfilling the enormous potential that he had shown at the start of his career, and this seems to be the perfect springboard to launch him into Anfield folklore.

Rating: 8.5/10

Philippe Coutinho

Not many expected Coutinho to succeed immediately in the Premier League, due to his diminutive stature, when it was announced that he had obtained a work permit following a £8.5 million transfer from Internazionale. But the wily Brazilian has taken to the Premier League like a fish to water, and has constantly put in performances that have silenced the critics.

3 goals and 7 assists in 13 appearances is a good haul by any standards, especially when one considers that he was coming from the Serie A and was expected to take time to adjust to the pace and physicality of the Premier League. His ability to run at defenders and his eye for a pass has already unlocked many defenses in the Premier League, and he can very easily form a lethal partnership with Suarez and Sturridge.

Considered to be a prototypical Brazillian number 10 with pace, trickery, flair, fantastic vision and an eye for goal, Coutinho has been used as an offensive midfielder (trequartista), second striker and on the flanks, proving his worth and making the £8.5 million transfer fees look like money well spent.

Rating: 9/10

Nuri Sahin

Liverpool  signed the talented Turk from Real Madrid on loan for the season, following a dismal season in the Spanish capital where he spent large chunks of the season either on the treatment table or on the bench. The expectation from Sahin was to replicate the form which earned him a big money move to Madrid. 

He started a few games, playing in the advanced role in midfield, and contributed with 3 goals and 3 assists in 12 appearances. However, he lost his place in the team, and his loan agreement was terminated. He has since then stated that he had been played out of position and expressed his happiness at leaving as he felt he had been frozen out of the team by Rodgers.

Rating: 4/10

Samed Yesil

The youngster was signed from Bayer Leverkusen for £1 million, following a rapid rise to prominence during the previous 18 months, having won the FIFA U-17 World Cup Silver Shoe in 2011.  He was not expected to play a part in the senior team this season, but the striker shortage following Andy Carroll's loan to West Ham and Borini's foot injury forced Rodgers' hand into promoting him to the senior team squad. 

He made two appearances in the League Cup, and also continued to score goals for the Liverpool Reserves and U21s. He, however, was ruled out for the season after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament on international duty with Germany U-19 team in February.

Rating: N/A


The manager decided to trust in the evil he knew rather than the evil he didn't as he decided to buy players with whom he had previously worked during his stints at Chelsea and Swansea. For a cumulative outlay of about £29 million, Liverpool brought in 4 players, although Yesil wasn't brought in to play for the first team. Of the other three, only Allen made an early impression, and Liverpool failed to bring in a striker after sending Andy Carroll out on loan. The loan deal for Nuri Sahin was a shrewd piece of business, but it failed to work out as intended following which Sahin's loan deal was terminated midway.

The January window was in stark contrast to the summer window, where the signings made instant impact on the team's performance. The contributions from Sturridge and Coutinho were majorfactors for the strong finish to the season. The outlay of about £20 million on the pair seems like a good investment, resulting in 14 goals and 12 assists apart from some entertaining football in the short span of time. 

Rating: 6.5/10