Brendan Rodgers believes Liverpool have to try harder to attract marquee signings after missing out on a number of their leading targets…
Liverpool fans have hankered for a return to the promised land of the Champions League from the very moment they dropped out of it back in December 2009.
And it hasn’t merely been an egocentric exercise based on a misplaced sense of belonging that lifting the famous old trophy five times brings either.
Instead we argued, entirely understandably, that a return to the European elite would bring with it the glamour and money needed to procure the world’s best players.
Furthermore, it was then felt that the influx of quality reinforcements would allow the club to compete with the very best on a consistent basis and, ultimately in time, lift silverware with regularity once more.
Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case, so far at least.
Since securing a return to the competition in May, and thus swelling the coffers, the Reds have seen their star player enticed away before failing to secure their first choice target to replace him.
Despite reportedly offering Barcelona’s Alex Sanchez more money, the Chilean chose Arsenal, and their track record of zero Champions League triumphs, over a move to Anfield.
In doing so, the 25-year-old, who has subsequently scored 12 times in 18 appearances for the Gunners, joins a lengthy list of targets – which includes Chelsea trio Diego Costa, Willian and Mohamed Salah – in snubbing the Merseysiders in recent times.
Speaking on the matter after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to the Blues, albeit indirectly in the case of Sanchez, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers commented: “We were in a great position at the end of last season, with Champions League football and a way of working, but we just have to work harder and smarter to convince these players to come.
“The club has done everything it could over the course of the summer to get the players who are going to improve us.
“But players look for more than just football terms. They look at where they want to live, they look at all these social factors and that’s something we can’t control. If someone gets offered say more money to come here but they want to go elsewhere, they want to go to London, there’s not much you can do.
“I think the club have shown their hand in terms of they will be prepared to pay the wages of top players, but whether they want to come here is a different matter.
“I think it’s where we’re at.”
He may have missed out on a marquee signing but Rodgers did still spend in excess of £120m on nine new faces during the most recent transfer window.
With five of those players aged 22 or under, he retains hope that the investment will bare fruit over time.
“We have signed talented young players,” added the Northern Irishman, “I’m sure over time – whether that’s with me here or not – they will show that they are very good players.
“We know what targets we wanted and what was out there, but for one reason or another they are not here and gone elsewhere. We work with what we’ve got and look to improve what we’ve got and get back to somewhere near the level we’ve shown over the last 18 months.”
There wasn’t much we could do about retaining Luis Suarez but the failure to adequately replace him has proved disastrous. Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert are clearly not in the same class but more tellingly they don’t possess the attributes Rodgers’ tactics and style of play require to thrive. Admittedly the injured Daniel Sturridge would have been pinpointed to provide the pace and movement needed up front but, with his fitness record, not having another option of that ilk is a glaring oversight. The fact Sanchez would have been perfect just hammers home the discontent currently being felt. Nobody will ever know if more could have been done to make him, or others, join but the number of players we have missed out on in recent times suggests there might be an underlying issue in the club’s approach to sealing deals. The two Manchester clubs don’t seem to have any issues attracting players to the North.
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