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