"Ironically, the safest bet for Benitez is likely to be Peter Crouch who the manager desperately doesn’t want to sell but who looks that he will get even less playing time than last season"
Hopes and Fears
Having been finally granted the sort of transfer funds he was asking for at the start of the summer, Rafael Benitez has understandably invested the bulk on bringing to the club new strikers. Fernando Torres, Ryan Babel and Andrii Voronin are being asked to solve what was Liverpool’s major headache last season: turning chances into goals.
Alas, that is easier said than done. The three will need time to adapt to English football and, in any case, Babel is more likely to play on the left of midfield than he is as a striker. Ironically, the safest bet for Benitez is likely to be Peter Crouch who the manager desperately doesn’t want to sell but who looks that he will get even less playing time than last season
Benitez does have an embarrassment of riches in central midfield where he can count on Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano as well as Momo Sissoko, and that’s not mentioning the highly rated Lucas Leiva. That no right midfielder was bought can be viewed as a vote of confidence for Jermaine Pennant who ended last season in excellent form whilst defence has to be Liverpool’s strongest department even though better back-up might have been required.
In all, the squad looks stronger than last year’s but, if pre-season friendlies are anything to go by, they still have trouble breaking teams down. Unless they solve that issue, particularly away from home, they might find themselves in a three way battle with Arsenal and Tottenham over the fourth qualification spot for the Champions League.
The transfer fee changes depending on which source you decide to listen to but there is no doubt that Liverpool paid a lot of money to prize Ferndando Torres away from Atletico Madrid. The Spanish forward is undoubtedly talented but the major worry is that he turns out to be another Fernando Morientes.
Something to Prove
With Benitez chasing Gabriel Heinze, the message to John Arne Riise is that he has to improve because otherwise he risks losing his place. And that is a message which seems to have gotten through to Riise who has been working harder than ever before to prove that he deserves to be in the side.
One to Watch
Signed for over ₤4 million from Gremio, Brazil U20 captain Lucas Leiva is a highly rated new addition to the squad who everyone back home is confident will become a major player. The question is: with so many quality midfielders in the squad, how will he get to play?