Liverpool: Who Should Stay and Who Should Leave This Summer?

Football - Liverpool v Fulham Barclays Premier League


It’s safe to assume that the current Liverpool squad needs rebuilding and reconstruction this off season if they are to replicate the form that saw them finish runners up in the 2008-2009 season. It Liverpool aspire to challenge for a top four finish or the title, new bodies and a fresh outlook may just be what’s needed at Anfield. Before transfers are targeted and bought, some current Liverpool players should put on The Clash and ask themselves, Should I Stay Or Should I Go? It’s the million dollar question that ultimately must be answered if room is to be made for potential summer transfers.

To the neutral observer, over the course of 35 games played this season in the league, Liverpool have been lacking in a few key positions. Currently sat in 6th, Liverpool stand to finish a whole four places behind last years campaign with a few of their best players looking old, uninterested, or injured.

I think it’s finally time for a few of the Liverpool old guard to hang it up, or move on to a new challenge and new chapter in their careers. On the other hand, some of the quality players at Liverpool should stay and continue to play for the shirt and the supporters of one of the greatest clubs in English football. Their Premier League experience will be vital in helping to rebuild the team and will also help any new blood brought in over the summer to settle and adapt to the English game.

  • It’s Time to Move On

Rafael Benitez – Let’s face it Liverpool fans, what else can Rafa do for Liverpool? He’s won the Champions League in his first year, the FA Cup, UEFA Super Cup, FA Community Shield, reached another Champions League final and took Liverpool the closest they’ve come to the league in ages. After losing key players such as Xabi Alonso and Alvaro Arbeloa to Real Madrid last season, his squad hasn’t been the same creatively and in attack. I think Rafa leaving will be best for Liverpool. Think of his exit as a fresh start for a new manager. If he stays, where does he go from here?

Steven Gerrard – Once the heart and soul of Liverpool, now the invisible midfielder who may not even deserve to represent England in South Africa this summer. Gerrard has been the epitome of a player who looks uninterested and ready for a fresh start. I like Gerrard and believe he still has years to contribute to football, just not Liverpool. At 29, Gerrard has now been at Liverpool for almost 12 years. His performances as Captain for Liverpool this year have been uninspired at best. Rumors suggest a stint abroad in Italy or maybe Spain. Even if it were for a year or two, Gerrard needs to relocate his passion for football before he gets too old and looses it.

Jamie Carragher – He won’t retire, he’s only 32. But the center back this season has looked a step or two off the pace of the demanding Premier League. In fairness, Carragher overcame an early season woeful slump in form to then steady the ship and produce more reliable performances for Liverpool at the back. He’s still passionate about playing for Liverpool, but can the Reds rebuild and chase the title with the aging and slowing Carragher at the back? Sure his football smarts, dedication, work rate and pride playing for Liverpool are second to none, but those traits won’t win a title in such an important position.

Ryan Babel – If Benitez stays, he needs to play Babel more frequently and even start the young Dutch winger. For me, Babel seems to have never really gotten the chance he’s deserved by having a good run starting with the first team. Likely, Babel will leave and find a club where he’s guaranteed to start and then be able to prove his worth to the Dutch National team. I for one hope he stays in England, I think Babel is a quality player with pace to burn and could have a good career in the Premier League. Still though, recent events point to his exit.

Albert Riera – Obviously leaving Merseyside as soon as he gets the chance after falling out with Benitez. Dropped from the team and uninterested to play under Rafa after having publicly questioned the boss, Riera needs a new club quick or risks becoming a fleeting memory at Anfield. He could realistically stay if a new manager comes in, but is likely to move on after a short career at Liverpool.

  • Stay and Build

Fernando Torres – Could leave and follow Rafa, but the Spanish striker could have a long and legendary career in English football with Liverpool. Too soon to go back to Spain and unsure if he fits in Italian football, Torres needs to stay at Liverpool and work on his fitness to lead Liverpool’s front line in the prime of his career. If Liverpool find funds to splash on new players this summer, Torres could be just the player to build a league or Champions League winning squad around. He’s that good.

Glen Johnson – Well he’s English, which means he’s unlikely to move abroad, but Johnson has shown great form when fit for Liverpool and remains England’s first choice right back. No real reason to leave what so ever for Johnson, has enjoyed his first year with the Reds and will only get better. Johnson should continue to win England caps and aid Liverpool’s back four and attack for years to come.

Alberto Aquilani – What an enigma Aquilani’s been at Liverpool for the past year. Purchased from Roma in hopes to replace the midfield maestro Alonso, or play further up the pitch in a more attacking role, Aquilani has battled injuries and match fitness during his short career at Liverpool. Must stay, get healthy and hopefully pay back some of the investment that was spent on his 20 million euro transfer fee. Like Torres, Aquilani is injury prone, but could be a fine midfielder and another young player to build a team around.

Javier Mascherano – The midfield tough man needs to stay right where he is. Rumors have surfaced in the past concerning a possible move to Barcelona and for me, I just don’t see where Mascherano fits in the Barcelona midfield. Mash was recently made the captain of the Argentina national team and could stand to captain Liverpool should Gerrard move on. With a fit Aquilani pushing forward in midfield, Mascherano is just the anchor to hold in midfield and protect the back four.

Yossi Benayoun – The Israeli footballer shoud keep his attacking wing play, quick feet and Premier League experince at Liverpool and become a leader at the club. Will turn 30 in a few weeks, but with his fit, athletic body type, Benayoun could realistically stay and continue to perform at Liverpool for 3 or 4 more years. If Benayoun were to leave, I’m unsure where he could go. I think he fits into Liverpool perfectly when he comes off the bench and can use his pace and quickness to change a game late on.

Liverpool simply haven’t possessed that cohesive team feel or ability to finish off opponents this season. It seems to again come down to consistency in the league and after 38 games, the league table won’t lie. Most likely, Liverpool will finish in 5th or 6th, depending on if Manchester City or Tottenham slip up. If the Reds are to have European, or more importantly, Premier League title aspirations, changes must be made at Anfield or Liverpool will risk stagnancy.

35 thoughts on “Liverpool: Who Should Stay and Who Should Leave This Summer?”

    1. Ngog gone? really – the lad is 21, he has finally started to get his confidence with the severely limited amount of playing time has gotten.

  1. Surprised you’re keen to keep Aquilani, but the flip side is, you’d never get a fraction of the transfer fee for him today.

    It then becomes a dilemma of losing on the transfer fee or lose out on paying his massive wages. Hpw many weeks of his contract before you’ve paid him what you would have lost in reduced fee, only to see he’s still not worth it, and still sucking cash out of your coffers?


  2. I don’t think liverpool has lost it attacking wise this season…after all the players they have are more or less them same they had last season in that fine run…alonso leaving probably took that edge off them a bit as he was a fine passer and held the midfield well…but you don’t try to boot out a player coz he had a mediocre season and then when he had a a fine one last season expect him to stay…the joke is that benitez had the balls to ask alonso to show him some loyalty…and it was quite clear alonso never intended to after the treatment he got…it was a ‘slap’ on the face for benitez and he probably deserved it….its really baffling when he can back lucas after he has been mediocre season after season bar this one but he didn’t do it in the case of alonso…as for carragher,I think he could still contribute to the club as he’s liverpool all the way but they need to use him just like ferguson does with neville,scholes angd giggs at united…other than that…i kinda agree with this article…

  3. A bit harsh on Stevie G. He has been looking like coming back to form recently and I think he was more disappointed than most with the back room battles and lack of investment on the field and probably feels badly let down by the club. I think letting him go after one disappointing season after so many performances where he has won the game on his own would be a mistake. He defiantly has a few more season left, especially if we invest in some quality players to take off the burden from him.

  4. Obviously players like Reina, Torres, Kuyt, Mascherano,Johnson and even Gerrard should stay and I think players like Ngog or Kyrgiakos or even Maxi should leave, Liverpool needs another valuable striker and a healthy TORRES!

  5. Aurelio stay? Kuyt stay? Maxi leave? are you lot watching the same games as me. We have many players who have not yet reached their potential like Babbel and Aqualani and i think they should be given a chance to prove themselves but Kuyt and Aurelio have been here for years and quite simply are not up to the challenge.

  6. Since I don’t follow Liverpool closely I could certainly be wrong on this, but from what I have seen Gerrard is being asked to play somewhat different roles from match to match. Even if he is capable of doing so, that can neither help his morale nor his production.

    Just an impression. Correction gladly accepted.

        1. See I know I’m in the minority here but that exactly where I think Gerrard should be playing.

          Not center back but just barely in front of / even line with Mascherano (or whoever the holding midfielder is). Put Kuyt, Babel, Bena, or Aquilani up behind the striker.

  7. Hell, you forget the most controvercial player we have: Lucas. Rafa loves him, and he got the most time on the pitch of any Reds player this season. Personally, I think he’s still raw at this point in his career. He might turn into something, but right now, he is marginal at best, and certainly was thrown into a role he wasn’t ready for.

    Who I don’t mind seeing the last of: Babel, Lucas, N’gog, Degan…

    Who probably should go, but I am saddened: Carragher (he looks like he aged a decade between last season and this one, and is way too slow now…Hyypia didn’t even age this hard!). Aquilani (he might be a talented footballer, but how can you tell when he gets hurt when the wind blows? We need a reliable quality player who won’t play 1 game in 5).

    And Rafa…personally, I don’t think he’s a good fit for Liverpool. Too controlling style of play, and he has players with high creativity (Torres, Benayoun, even Babel when he has his head on straight). We need someone who can promote a more attacking style and less meaningless possession in our defensive half. But who is out there? Rumors for The Special One don’t excite me either.

  8. I think you are correct, ovalball.

    And I’m really tired of fans, blog writers, John Terry’s mom, etc., suggesting players look “disinterested” or in this case “uninsterested.” WTF does that even mean? People said the same crap about Torres, when of course they didn’t understand he was wrestling with injuries. Christ on a bike, Gerrard has to deal with playing with the likes of Lucas and without a capable striker (though I think N’gog would work in a two-man front) for big parts of the season, has had is own injuries, and is understandably frustrated. But I guess it’s easy from the outside to say he is disinterested and should move on. Sorry, I couldn’t disagree more.

    Out: Lucas, Maxi, Riera.
    Wouldn’t be too upset if they left, but not unhappy if they stayed either: Insua, Aurelio, Kuyt, Carragher (sorry, but he is done), Krgyiakos.
    Stay: Gerrard, Torres, Reina, Johnson, Mascherano, Benayoun, Babel, N’gog, Agger, Skrtel.

      1. Upon reading that question, I think I may reconsider.

        I really like Kuyt, and his effort is second to none. However, he does have an appalling first touch many times.

        Part of my issue with Kuyt actually has nothing to do with him. It’s Rafa’s favored formation and the persistent negative 4-2-3-1 he favors. The two holding midfielders, even at home, all the time, drives me a bit nuts and makes the team not very fun to watch. It worked when Xabi was in the squad and could cut opponents up with his passing and a few goals pushing from deep. But not with the current pairing. As a result, Kuyt is played in a role in which he is not ideally suited. He also isn’t quick enough to cover for Johnson when he pushes forward.

        As far as the others go, I like Babel. He is one of only a few LFC players that can create a goal out of nothing. He needs to grow up, but he is so talented and got very few chances to play this year.

        Skrtel is solid and needed with Carragher’s decline, and Agger provides the ability to play the ball out of the back. He’s an excellent passer for a defender, and as we know he’s not afraid to shoot either.

  9. I think next year’s Liverpool team will look basically the same as this year’s Liverpool team. Maybe drop two (Babel and Rierra have to go) and pick up one (hopefully) new striker. That’s about it. Same manager, same English players, etc.

    The players we really need to keep are Mascherano and Kuyt. They have consistently been the best players on the team this season.

  10. Rafael Benitez is a top-class manager, with a proven track record. He may well have passed his sell-by date at Liverpool, and yes sometimes his decisions seem bizarre, but I’d carefully consider who could and would replace him before showing him the door. We’d like to imagine Mourinho, or Hiddink, etc, but the reality of who is available and whose wages Liverpool can afford is another story.

      1. So we can play the same 11 players, in the same formation, and with the same game-plan every game?

        It would be a drastic change but no thanks.

  11. Those who rate Rafa highly because under him Liverpool have won the Champions League and FA Cup trophies should remember that both those finals were won on penalties which is a lottery more than anything else. The first change should be to get rid of Rafa Benitez. Then leave it to the new manager to decide who stays and who leaves. Above all the new manager should understand what it takes to win in the PL above European matches. With Rafa one gets the impression that he no more understands the Pl now than when he arrived six years ago. Rafa has assembled a squad better suited for European matches where you play not to lose. Bring in a manager with a more adventorous attitude and Liverpool could well be on their way to being a PL giant again.

  12. “Let’s face it Liverpool fans, what else can Rafa do for Liverpool?”

    Erm, how about win the EPL?

    We’ve looked our best/most dangerous when Lucas is omitted in favor of another attacking player. He’s too defensive-minded, despite his occasional forays into the opposition’s box, and is completely redundant when the terrific Mascherano is on the pitch and the other CM needs to be more involved in the attack.

    Sadly I tend to agree about Gerrard. Over the last couple of years he’s been saddled with niggling injuries and playing out of position, and has literally put the team on his back at times. That said, he “switches off” at times during attack, even when we retain possession and look to have another go, but he’s too busy throwing up his arms or scowling at a teammate to be involved. A typical situation would be: Kuyt loses possession, but regains it, and if Gerrard had continued his run he could have been in a position to score, but chose to bitch instead. Gerrard is also, at times, a dirty tackler and a diver. I can’t see him playing elsewhere in England and I don’t really see his style of play fitting in Spain so I think Italy would be the best for him. I doubt he will leave, however, especially if Rafa goes.

    Babel, for all his speed and raw talent, has one of the worst first touches I’ve seen.

    Aquilani is a mystery; we may never know just why he hasn’t featured more. He’s had some really good stretches where I thought he added an extra dimension to the attacking play and seems to track back well enough.

    I think we are a left back and second striker away from competing for the title next year. The wing play with some combo of Benayoun/Kuyt/Maxi/Riera is not the problem, but when Torres is out there is no Plan B up front. Ngog is not the guy, and probably will never be.

  13. A bit harsh on Gerrard but I kind of agree. He seems to be a man who cant find his position or role this season. This could also be attributed to Rafa, which I believe is more the case.

    I still think Liverpool should toss around the idea of selling Torres and picking up 3-4 solid players. (Baliotelli, Rossi, Cole, aguero…etc)

    Gotta keep Aquilani – once he finds his niche I think he can be a star on that team

  14. I’m all for people expressing their opinions, but anyone who believes Gerrard should leave Liverpool is clearly “barking”. Players worth keeping for starting 11; Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Mascherano, Gerrard, Torres, Babel.

    1. Ivan, I’m with Jesse and I believe that Gerrard should leave Liverpool. He’s been invisible this season, a shadow of himself and has not been the type of morale-boosting captain you would expect to see in the side.

      In hindsight, it would have been better for Liverpool and Gerrard to have parted ways last summer.

      The Gaffer

      1. Yes, Gerrard has been a shadow of himself in terms of his leadership and his play-making this season.

        It could be because – he is a player on the plateau of his career who feels he needs a fresh challenge, or is simply having an off year – either way – the fact that he is playing for a club that is off course – on the pitch, in the dug out, and in the boardroom probably has something to do with it.

        Steve has carried the club on his back for the better part of the last decade, and after yet another mediocre season, I don’t blame him for having a “why even bother” attitude.

        What the club does this summer, on the pitch, in the dugout, and in the boardroom will be go a long way in deciding if it’s best for both parties to finally go their separate ways.

  15. I’m struggling to think of a team currently ahead of Liverpool in the standings that would use Babel. No love for Agger, either? Hell, he can play in midfield.

  16. Get Torres to do more bench-presses and squats! If he can stay injury free then Liverpool are always a threat. Gerrard is Liverpool! The fans will be lost if he leaves now. Maybe after some new glory and silverware.

  17. Kuyt should leave. Aquilani should stay and we need to build our central midfield around him and Gerrard if he stays. We desperately need a quality second striker, left back, and either a world class attacking midfielder or right winger.

    Kuyt – Is getting old and doesn’t offer enough skill a world-class winger should possess. He has served the club well but I think it’s his time to move on.
    Riera – No place for him after his comments.

    Carragher- Has looked a bit slow and is getting old. His experience is great but it may be time to see the Agger/Skrtel partnership in the central defence.
    Gerrard – He is a fantastic player on his day, but he’s looked disinterested at times this year. I think if Rafa stays he will look to move on.
    Lucas – Should be nowhere near the starting 11 but he’s young and could develop into a good player.

    Aquilani – When he actually starts he looks like a great player.
    Babel – Has improved this year, and I think he will go on to be a great winger for us if he is given a consistent run in of games.
    Ngog – He’s not the quality we need as a second striker right now…but he’s just 20. No reason to think he couldn’t develop into a good player in a couple years.
    Insua – Not enough quality to be a starter but he’s still young and could be used for depth.

  18. The Gerrard situation is interesting actually…he’s been a great servant for Liverpool but maybe it’s about time they parted ways…It might prove to be a good thing actually for both him and the club…I think he’s actually been stagnant in terms of his growth and a fresh challenge would do him a world of good…and the money they bring in from his sale can be used to strengthen the team and build it around Torres…it was the same case with Torres…local boy,wears his heart on his sleeves but he didn’t really progress while he was at Atletico Madrid…he left and you see where he is now…in terms of Atletico they made some really bad investment and very few good signings…If Liverpool can avoid making the same mistakes, then there is hope for the future…and in the curious case of Kuyt…I don’t see why they need to move him on…he was nvr a winger in the first place…so to make he play there and the performance he gives in week in and week out with his limited abilities needs to be appreciated…who knows…he could actually be the perfect foil for Torres…but you know what your gonna get frm Rafa…he buys a striker,plays him on the left or right wing and then after a season…offloads him…it makes no sense…I’m a Man Utd fan,but I’m saying this from a neutral perspective and as a football lover…cheers…:)

  19. I agree that Gerrard has had a poor season. Based on his performance this season one would conclude that it’s better if he left. However, it is just possible that he might be a lot better next season and so I would be reluctant to say he should go. Xabi Alonso had his best season at Liverpool after being far from his best the season before. It is very rare that players of the caliber of Gerrard have two successive poor seasons.

  20. Stay: Gerrard,torres,kuyt,reina,benayoun,carragher,johnson,aqualani,lucas,skrytel and agger,mascherano
    Out: insua,ngog,babel,

    Liverpool should try bring arron lennon,ozil,david villa,robben and maicon to the club to brighting thinks up at anfield.

  21. Conor,
    Benayoun has already left and Mascherano will be leaving too as he is about to hand-in a transfer request. David Villa has already signed for Barcelona.

    Who goes and who stays will depend on the new manager Hodgson. He should be allowed to determine the final makeup of the squad since Liverpool will be playing the style of soccer that the manager thinks will be most successful. The biggest task confronting the new manager is a meager transfer kitty. As far as I’m concerned only new ownership with deep pockets will help the club in the long term.

    The best Liverpool can hope for this coming season is a top 4 finish even though it will be difficult given the buying power of Manchester City and even Spurs. Hodgson will have to weave his magic as he did at Fulham for Liverpool to have any chance of finishing in the top 4.

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