After the manner in which Liverpool overspent on signings who turned out to be largely major disappointments in 2014, it would be fair to say that the £75 million windfall received from Luis Suarez’ sale to Barcelona was simply not put to good use. In 2015, Brendan Rodgers embarked on another spree, adding 7 new faces to his squad. With Jurgen Klopp now in charge, many players in the Liverpool squad are fighting for their futures under the German manager ahead of a potential summer overhaul. How have Liverpool’s new signings fared this season?
Adam Bogdan (Bolton Wanderers, Free Agent)
I’m not quite sure what the club were thinking when they signed Bolton’s second choice keeper in the summer. It seemed a very bizarre transfer at the time and Bogdan has proved to be an unsurprisingly poor recruit. On the few occasions when he has played, a penalty shootout victory against Carlisle aside, he has made some absolute howlers- most notably against Exeter and Watford. He has not come close to providing any kind of competition for Mignolet, which speaks volumes given the inconsistency in the Belgian’s own performances. He will definitely leave in the summer.
Joe Gomez (Charlton Athletic, £3.5 million)
If few fans had heard of Gomez when he signed, they knew about him by the end of Liverpool’s pre-season tour during which he shined, playing his way into the starting lineup for the opening day against Stoke City, rising above Alberto Moreno in the pecking order for the left back spot. His reputation grew with an outstanding performance in the 0-0 draw against Arsenal at the Emirates but showed his inexperience by giving away a penalty in the 3-1 defeat by Man United at Old Trafford. A cruel anterior cruciate ligament injury in training in October ruled Gomez out for the season, but he showed enough in the early stages of the campaign to suggest he is a huge talent for the future, most likely as a centre-back.
Verdict: A very good investment
Danny Ings (Burnley, unconfirmed tribunal fee)
Like Gomez, Ings had his season cruelly cut short in October following an ACL injury in training. He had already made himself a fan favorite, however, with his energetic performances and excellent attitude, notching 3 goals, including the opener at Goodison Park in the Merseyside derby. His injury has proved to be a major loss for Liverpool this season, as his mobility and movement to stretch defences has been missed. He has the attributes to be an important player for Klopp next season.
Verdict: A very good investment
James Milner (Man City, free transfer)
Milner signed for Liverpool under the guarantee from Brendan Rodgers that he would command a starting role in central midfield. However, his performances in the early stages of the season did not merit such a promise as Milner lacked the necessary quality to play such a crucial role in the side. Since the turn of the year, however, Milner has improved markedly as Klopp has used him in a wider role and he has started to contribute regularly with goals and assists. He has also proved to be a reliable penalty taker. He will be kept on in the summer, but his role beyond this season will surely be as a squad player rather than a starter. A good option to have.
Verdict: Slightly underwhelming but solid and dependable
Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton, £12.5 million)
Clyne has started all but one of Liverpool’s Premier League fixtures so far this season and has proved to be a refreshing and significant upgrade on Glen Johnson, slotting in seamlessly, totally unfazed by arriving at a bigger club. Very solid and dependable in defence, he rarely ever has a bad game. Despite looking somewhat limited going forward at times, the attacking side of his game has improved recently in terms of his final ball. His boundless energy and pace enable him to cover a huge amount of ground, and he demonstrates a willingness to burst forward and link up in the final third. His tenacity and endeavour have seen him pop up with a couple of goals this season, while his versatility has proved useful as a decent alternative option at left-back. One of the few who can be virtually assured of their starting place next season.
Verdict: An excellent addition. Well worth the money.
Roberto Firmino (Hoffenheim, £21 million)
Firmino was by far the most exciting of Liverpool’s summer recruits having grown a reputation as one of the Bundesliga’s most talented players in the previous few seasons. He struggled under Rodgers, however, often used as a substitute and in a wider role where he had minimal impact in games. He only scored his first goal for the club in November, and his performance in that 4-1 thrashing of Man City was evidence of his true ability. His two goals including a spectacular strike from 20 yards against Arsenal in the 3-3 draw at Anfield in January proved to be his breakthrough moment. Since the start of the year, Firmino has burst into life as Liverpool’s outstanding performer and one of the most prolific players in the Premier League following an impressive run of games in the ‘false nine’ role during Sturridge’s absence. He now sits on 9 goals and 8 assists in all competitions, making him Liverpool’s top scorer along with Coutinho. As well as his end product, Firmino’s movement and energy are huge assets to the team and he has been a crucial part of Klopp’s pressing game.
Verdict: Slow start, but a definite hit. Will only get better.
Christian Benteke (Aston Villa, £32.5 million)
Many an eyebrow was raised when Liverpool finally agreed to pay the £32.5 million buy-out clause to sign Benteke from Aston Villa in the summer. He was pinpointed as a priority target by Rodgers, but there were major question marks over his suitability for Liverpool’s style of play. Despite a fairly encouraging start to the season, Benteke has fallen well out of favour and under Klopp is merely seen as an impact substitute, with his compatriot Divock Origi ahead in the pecking order. Benteke has proven to be just as much as a mistake as many of us feared he would be. His lack of movement, poor work rate and at times astonishingly poor finishing (his inability to convert one-on-one chances is astonishing) have reduced Benteke to a shadow of his former self. He has, in fairness, scored several crucial goals to win matches, but a measly return of 8 goals in all competitions by this stage in the season is very poor. Recently quoted as being confused by his lack of playing time under Klopp, it seems there will be no way back for Benteke and should there be interest in the summer, he will be made available for transfer as Liverpool will look to cut their losses.
Verdict: A total mistake. A total misfit. Get rid.