Following Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City in news.bwin’s one to buy, keep and sell series this summer is Liverpool, who are expected to be especially active in what will be Jurgen Klopp’s first pre-season at the helm.
German goalkeeper Loris Karius has already been snapped up to provide competition to Simon Mignolet, while centre-back Joel Matip will join the ranks when his Schalke deal expires on June 30th having penned a pre-contract agreement with the Reds in February.
Further strengthening in the latter position will be key if Liverpool are to realise their top-four ambitions for next season; they’re currently rated at 8/5 to qualify for the Champions League via their divisional standing in 2016/17.
Sign – Virgil van Dijk
Following the pending release of Martin Skrtel and calamitous nature of Kolo Toure, the Reds must further reinforce their rearguard, regardless of Matip’s arrival.
They’re no stranger when it comes to stripping assets from Southampton and Van Dijk, having received their Player of the Year award, was their finest last term.
His average aerial duels won per league match of 4.4 dominated the mean mustered by every Liverpool defender, with Sakho coming closest at 3.4. A pass completion percentage of 83.1% demonstrates his proficiency in possession, while his set-piece taking skills provide an added boon.
Sell – Jordan Henderson
We spoke of the virtues of selling Philippe Coutinho last week, but that would only make sense if an exorbitant offer was received; he’s obviously not a player they should be looking to sell on account of substandard ability.
The same does not necessarily apply to Henderson, whose frustrating season seems to have exhausted all the credits he amassed during an excellent 2013/14 and decent 2014/15.
Lacking in creative qualities (seven colleagues matched or bettered his top-tier assist tally of three), scoring prowess (nine equaled or topped his league goals total of two) and the physicality to play an enforcer’s role (seven recorded a greater tackles-per-game average of his 2.4), the England midfielder is yet to master a specific aspect of the game and remains some way short of the standard required to play a vital role for a club with lofty aspirations.
Keep – Christian Benteke
Cast aside by Klopp upon his arrival and used sparingly since, the Belgium behemoth still delivered in what is considered to have been a disappointing first season at Anfield.
Despite starting just 14 Premier League games, only Roberto Firmino (who benefitted from over 400 extra minutes on the pitch) could best his goals tally of nine.
Owing to the facts that infamously fragile Daniel Sturridge can’t be depended on to spearhead a strike force for an entire season, Divock Origi lacks Benteke’s experience and it’s highly probable no one at Liverpool wants to go down the Mario Balotelli route again, were they to sell the £32m ace, a replacement would have to be sought.
But why waste the energy when there’s a proven goalscorer already on the books?