Glen Johnson set for Liverpool exit door as part of summer cull
Published 30/04/2015 | 02:30
Glen Johnson has claimed that Liverpool must embark on an overhaul this summer in order to challenge for the Premier League title, but admits that he expects to be a high-profile victim of any Anfield cull.
Liverpool's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League next season suffered a blow with defeat at Hull City on Tuesday, with the Anfield club now seven points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester United with four games left to play.
Failure to play in the Champions League next season will lead to Liverpool missing out on at least £50 million in prize money - earnings from the competition increase from a basic £30 million next season due to the start of Uefa's broadcasting deal with BT Sport - and also leave the Merseyside club struggling to attract leading summer targets to Anfield.
However, having gone close to winning the title last season before being overtaken by the eventual champions Manchester City, Johnson believes that Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, has no option but to make wholesale changes to his squad this summer. "Definitely, there need to be changes," the England defender said.
"It's the same every year and every team is going to try and do their business in the summer to try and make themselves stronger for the following the season. The club needs to do that, too. We have some fantastic young players, but we say the same every year - we always have some good young players coming through.
"The club has got some business to do in the summer with current players and new players and it's just about trying to get the squad as strong as possible for the start."
As many as 10 players could leave Anfield this summer with Steven Gerrard, the club captain, having announced his decision to sign for LA Galaxy. Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert, Jose Enrique, Fabio Borini and goalkeeper Brad Jones are expected to be sold, while uncertainty surrounds the futures of Lucas Leiva, Kolo Toure and Martin Skrtel.
Liverpool are poised to resist any attempts to lure Raheem Sterling away from Anfield, despite the England winger's contractual stand-off with the club, but Johnson, an £18 million signing from Portsmouth in 2009, concedes that his own time is up at the club.
Asked if he thought he would be among those leaving, Johnson said: "Of course, I have no contract! I don't think that will change, but we have to wait and see. I have always been professional all season, always wanted to play and that's still what I doing. I've got four more games and then let's see what we do in the summer."
Liverpool's chances of finishing fourth are all but gone, but Johnson said that the players would not go through the motions in their last four games. "We are all professionals. Otherwise we would not be at a club like Liverpool. We've got four more games to concentrate on to try and get a few more points. That's what we will concentrate on doing.
"Every team wants to finish as high in the Premier League as possible. With the Europa League, you do get a lot more games, but it's a competition you would rather be in than not."
Despite the fall from runners-up position last May to the prospect of a finish as low as seventh this season, Liverpool's American owners are understood to be supportive of Rodgers as manager.
The availability of the Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp following the end of the Bundesliga season ensures the presence of a highly respected stalking horse should Rodgers's position come under threat, but the Northern Irishman is preparing to press ahead with his rebuilding plans.
Liverpool are expected to fend off interest from Arsenal to sign James Milner on a free transfer from Manchester City, while the Burnley forward Danny Ings is known to favour a move to Anfield ahead of Manchester United, who have expressed an interest in the player.
Efforts to persuade the PSV Eindhoven winger Memphis Depay to reject similar interest from United, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich are likely to prove less successful should a failure to play in the Champions League be confirmed.
For Liverpool to overhaul United in the race for fourth, they must realistically win all of their remaining games - including a trip to champions-elect Chelsea - and hope that United lose at least two of their final four games.
However, with Gerrard poised to return against Queens Park Rangers on Saturday after missing the defeat at Hull with the after-effects of cramp, deputy captain Jordan Henderson insisted that the team would continue to fight on.
"We've just got to keep going," Henderson said.
"Obviously everybody is disappointed with the game (at Hull), but we've just got to move on as quickly as possible to the next game and hopefully win every game from now until the end of the season and see where we are." (© Daily Telegraph, London)