Three of Liverpool’s previous four managers have used the winter period effectively to strengthen the Reds’ team. Rafael Benitez, a Champions League winner and Premier League runner-up with the Anfield outfit, exploited the mid-season transfer window to secure the services of Danish defender Daniel Agger for £5.8m in 2006, current Barcelona defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano on loan in 2007, making the transfer permanent a year later, Spanish full-back Alvaro Arbeloa in 2007 for £2.6m, tough-tackling centre-back Martin Skrtel for £6.5m in 2008 and Argentine winger Maxi Rodriguez in 2010. All of these signings played key roles for Liverpool after arriving on Merseyside.
Roy Hodgson did not delve into the January transfer window before his departure from the club in 2011, but his successor – Kenny Dalglish – memorably did. In came Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez for a combined fee of just less than £60m. Uruguayan forward Suarez has proved a magnificent capture for the club.
But perhaps the most effective mid-season transfer window of them all came in January 2013. Liverpool, who were desperately short of strikers, turned to Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge to ease the burden on Suarez. Philippe Coutinho, a young Brazilian attacking midfielder, also arrived from Italian side Inter. Together, both Sturridge and Coutinho cost the Reds a reported £20m and – since signing for the club – the dynamic duo have provided some outstanding performances. Such displays have gone some way into extinguishing the myth about there being a lack of value in the January transfer market.
Sturridge scored the first hat-trick of his senior career at Craven Cottage on Sunday afternoon, taking his tally in a Liverpool shirt to 11 goals in 15 games, as the Reds came from behind to seal a 3-1 victory – and with it, seventh place in the Premier League. The magical Coutinho provided two assists, the second of which was exquisite. There is no value in the winter window, it has been claimed by others in the past, yet Liverpool’s first-choice trio of attacking players next season could all realistically be January purchases. What better way to debunk a myth than to unleash a front three of Coutinho, Sturridge and Suarez on nervous opposition defenders in the 2013/2014 campaign?
Signing players in the middle of the season is far from ideal, but when improvements are needed, using the window to bring in reinforcements is not as foolish as some make it sound. And given Liverpool’s lack of success in recent summer transfer windows, perhaps Rodgers should stick to shopping in January from now on? After all, the signings of Agger, Mascherano, Arbeloa, Skrtel, Maxi, Suarez, Coutinho and Sturridge suggest that the winter period is exactly where the value lies.
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