Friday 28 July 2017

Ronnie Whelan: Five strikers Liverpool should target to get back to competing for big trophies

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Gonzalo Higuain during Serie A match between Udinese v Juventus, in Udine, on March 25, 2017 (Photo by Loris Roselli/NurPhoto via Getty Images).
Gonzalo Higuain during Serie A match between Udinese v Juventus, in Udine, on March 25, 2017 (Photo by Loris Roselli/NurPhoto via Getty Images).
Ronnie Whelan

Ronnie Whelan

Jurgen Klopp has many gaps in his squad which must be filled but the most glaring miss at the moment is a striker, someone who will chug away supplying goals.

When I sat down to think about the type of players Klopp should be chasing, I couldn't get away from the idea that Liverpool need a big name, someone like Zlatan Ibrahimovic who is carrying an entire club on his shoulders

I'm not suggesting that he should have to but Liverpool desperately need players who can lead and inspire. Consistent goal scorers do that as easily as breathing.

But if you look at the names I've settled on down below, there is one common theme with three of them.

Cash. Big wedges of it and nothing less will convince players like Antoine Griezmann, Gonzalo Higuain and Edinson Cavani to play for your club.

That's the first obstacle to get over and the one that worries me the most at the moment.

We saw during the week that Liverpool are healthy enough financially given the fact that a big redevelopment of the main stand has been delivered and there was no Champions League football to pad out the bank accounts.

But the pattern for a number of years has shown that Liverpool managers have gone to the starting line in August ill-prepared for the task ahead in terms of strikers, usually the most expensive commodity.

The last time Anfield was well-served in this area was when Brendan Rodgers was fortunate enough to have Luis Suarez to pick and a younger, less fragile Daniel Sturridge who fed off him.

Goals went in from every angle and Liverpool came agonisingly close to a Premier League title.

But ever since, poor planning and some pretty awful work in the transfer market has left Klopp with no recognised striker to pick.

I'm not sure how this happened. Suarez's exit was about as predictable as you can get but Rodgers ended up with Mario Balotelli as a replacement.

Similarly, Klopp knew he wanted to offload Christian Benteke and yet made no provision to replace him.

Even the last name on my list, Jermain Defoe, would have been a better option than either Sturridge or Divock Origi who seems to be heading in the same direction as Benteke. All of this makes me wonder whether John Henry and FSG are really willing to spend what they need to spend to help Klopp fix his problems.

It's fine to have a club policy which favours young talent and maybe things are a bit tight after the work done at Anfield but Henry needs to take a close look at what has happened at Arsenal with a similar policy and a manager who is obsessed with balancing the books.

Klopp's dealings in the market made a small profit last year and while that might look impressive to a businessman, it did nothing at all to help his squad.

The win over Arsenal was very welcome but once again underlined where Klopp and his players are failing.

They can beat Arsenal but they lose to Burnley and there are a lot more Burnleys than Arsenals in the Premier League.

Here are five strikers that Liverpool should target this summer:

1. Antoine Griezmann

If Liverpool want to be seen as serious players in the coming years, they need to be bidding for the very best and there is no better than this lad at the moment. Ireland fans saw him at his most lethal in Lyon in June and his form continues to dazzle for Atletico. I’m not saying they would even get him but a real attempt would show that the club has the right ambitions.

2. Gonzalo Higuain

Another of the mega-strikers, Higuain is knocking them in for Juve all season, just as he  has in every season in his illustrious career. Would cost a huge amount of money but he would give you goals.

3. Edinson Cavani

Like Higuain, he’s seen it all and has delivered goals on demand now for 12 seasons in Serie A and now with PSG. Just turned 30, his age profile might make a difference to his transfer fee but not his wages.

4. Jamie Vardy

If Liverpool are committed to a budget, Vardy might be a man they could make an offer for without breaking the bank. He would certainly suit Klopp’s high intensity approach.

5. Jermain Defoe

I’m sure the lads who were on the transfer committee at Anfield would never have given Defoe a second thought but Klopp should. As a long term investment? No good at all but if the priority is to deliver goals and quickly, he would be well worth the small amount of money needed to get him.

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