Monday 23 October 2017

Reds can still attract top talent - Rodgers

West Brom 0 Liverpool 0

Liverpool’s defender Dejan Lovren reacts after missing a chance against West Brom
Liverpool’s defender Dejan Lovren reacts after missing a chance against West Brom
West Brom's Boaz Myhill makes a save from Fabio Borini of Liverpool
Darren Fletcher of West Brom hugs Steven Gerrard of Liverpool during their match at The Hawthorns yesterday

John Percy

The Champions League anthem will not be on the Anfield play list next season but Brendan Rodgers believes that he can still attract world-class players to Liverpool.

Rodgers is preparing to embark on another substantial rebuilding job this summer, with PSV Eindhoven winger Memphis Depay, Aston Villa's Belgian forward Christian Benteke, and Burnley's Danny Ings all believed to be targets.

The Liverpool manager is determined to bring in goals and creativity after another frustrating afternoon at the Hawthorns which seems to have finally extinguished any lingering hopes of a top-four finish.

However, Liverpool's failure to offer Champions League football is certain to prove a huge obstacle to the Anfield club's recruitment drive, with Depay understood to have also held talks with Manchester United.

Depay met Liverpool officials on Wednesday and remains a priority target for Rodgers, who admitted that the 21-year-old represented the calibre of player he would target this summer.

While Rodgers is expected to survive as Liverpool manager into next season, there could there be some changes in how the club goes about recruiting players.

One suggestion is that the Fenway Sports Group, which owns Liverpool, might want to appoint a director of football or general manager to assist Rodgers.

This would raise questions over whether the much-debated transfer committee - which is headed by the manager - will be broken up, or at least revamped, following some disappointing signings in recent windows.


The committee includes Rodgers, Mike Gordon, a Liverpool director who also sits on FSG's board, chief executive Ian Ayre, head of performance and analysis Michael Edwards along with chief scout Barry Hunter and Dave Fallows, the head of recruitment.

The spotlight is likely to fall on Hunter and Fallows in particular, and how effective they have been, when FSG carry out their usual end-of-season review of how Liverpool have performed. Whether they re-shape the committee or even take the step of appointing a director of football - something Rodgers has opposed in the past - remains to seen but certainly there will be a reckoning over the signings that have been made and just how many have proved a success.

However, even if a change is made to the way Liverpool conduct their transfers there will not be a wavering in the principle of signing players of potential which FSG have insisted upon.

Either way, it will be a busy summer of transfer activity, with those charged with making new signings under huge pressure to get it right.

Rodgers believes that Liverpool remain an attractive proposition to Europe's most coveted players.

"If we are not in the Champions League, which now looks likely, players will still maybe want to come," he said. "If we can regroup, get some quality starters in, we can go on another great adventure next season."

When asked directly about Depay, Rodgers said: "I can't confirm either way. The kid is obviously a very talented player but I wouldn't look to confirm anything." Fabio Borini, Lucas Leiva and Mario Balotelli - anonymous on Saturday in his first league start since November - are among those likely to be sold.

"I think the natural process for some players will be that they want to move on anyway," the manager said. "We have had some for a couple of years who maybe haven't played as much as they would have liked.

"I have got a great squad of players but, if we are looking to regain what we had last season, we need that tempo to our game. If we can do that, I think we will have an opportunity to really kick on."

This was a turgid affair as Steven Gerrard made his 500th Premier League appearance, with Albion producing a Tony Pulis defensive masterclass.

Albion's back four were so well-drilled that they resembled table footballers and Liverpool had just two chances, with Joleon Lescott heading Jordan Henderson's effort off the line before Jordon Ibe struck the crossbar. Pulis is also counting down the days until he can start reconstructing his squad, though a £150m sale is also on the horizon.

Jeremy Peace, the Albion chairman, has met at least two interested parties and aims to agree any deal before June.

Pulis said: "The chairman has told me if there's anything positive he'll keep me informed. He's said that if it's not sold by a certain time that will be it, he'll keep it and move forward." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport