Mignolet

Summer Signings Review

In his latest article, Chris Dickinson (@SuperSubLFC) discusses the impact that each of Liverpool’s summer signings have had so far this season, and what he expects of them in the future.

It’s been over 80 days since the summer transfer window slammed shut at 11pm on Monday 2nd September. Optimism had already begin to grow around Liverpool as at the time of ‘Transfer Deadline Day’, the Anfield outfit had already registered four wins from four, including a win against arch rivals Manchester United the day before.

There was further reason for optimism as after recruiting Kolo Toure, Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto, Simon Mignolet and Aly Cissokho earlier in the Summer, Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers brought in three new faces on deadline day itself as Mamadou Sakho signed from PSG in what was the club’s biggest outlay of the window . He was followed into Anfield by Tiago Ilori and Chelsea winger Victor Moses on loan.

Now, 13 games into the season, I feel it’s time to review how the new boys have settled into life at one of the world’s biggest clubs, whilst also looking forward to what they can provide in the quest to bring Champions League football back to Anfield.

Starting off with the first signing of the window and what is also proving to be the shrewdest move by Rodgers and his recruitment team – Kolo Toure. Signed on a free after falling out of favour at Manchester City, the Ivorian has certainly reinvigorated himself with the Liverbird on his chest. Slotting seamlessly into the back line, Toure has made a total of nine appearances so far this season, with an 83.9% pass completion rate, whilst making an average of 2.3 tackles and 6.4 clearances per game.

Not only has he illustrated his abilities on the pitch, he has also become a very important figure in the dressing room. Although he is not Jamie Carragher, he offers a different style of leadership and presence that will only benefit those playing alongside him. After an impressive start to the season, the 32 year old has proved he still has so much to offer and Liverpool are reaping the rewards. 7.5/10.

Next, we move to our first acquisition from Spain over the summer, Iago Aspas. The feisty Spaniard was likened in playing-style to our own tenacious Luis Suarez, however so far his performances haven’t even come close to matching those of his Uruguayan teammate.

After firing in four goals and providing two assists in pre-season, hopes were high for the former Celta Vigo frontman, but he has fallen short of expectations thus far; providing a solitary assist in six matches. Although it must be said that the transition into a new league and culture can take time, and Aspas demonstrated his qualities in pre-season but when he makes his return from a lengthy lay-off, Liverpool fans will be hoping he will settle quickly and replicate his performances for his former club. 5.5/10.

Another recruit from La Liga over the summer was Luis Alberto from Sevilla, although he is probably better known from his time on loan at Barcelona B in the second-tier of Spanish football where he was a regular in the starting side an scored an impressive 11 goals.

First-team opportunities have been limited thus far at Anfield for Alberto, with the Spanish midfielder limited to five substitute appearances in the league with his only start coming in an extra time victory of Notts County in the Capital One Cup, therefore it is perhaps too early to judge his first-team performances. His highlight so far at Livepool has to be the hat-trick he scored for the U21 side in a game played at Anfield against Sunderland which must have caught the eye of Brendan Rodgers. As the season progresses, I’m sure we will see a lot more of Alberto and hopefully see him flourish. 6/10.

Arguably Liverpool’s finest piece of business over the summer saw Belgian shot-stopper Simon Mignolet swap the Black Cats for the Liverbird; replacing Kop favourite Pepe Reina who is currently on loan at Rafa Benitez’s Napoli. Mignolet endeared himself to the Anfield faithful on the opening day of the Premier League season by saving a Jon Walters penalty which helped kick-start a three-game league winning streak that also saw him keep three clean sheets in a row.

There is little doubt over his impressive shot-stopping and high-level of concentration, but there have been minor criticisms of Mignolet aerial commandment and ball distribution. At 25 years old, he seems to be the long term man to be between the sticks at Anfield if he continues his current form, which would also give Belgium coach Marc Wilmots a selection dilemma regarding who to play in goal at the World Cup in Brazil. 8.5/10.

A third player was to swap life in Spain for life on the red half of Merseyside over the summer albeit on a loan deal from Valencia was Aly Cissokho. He was signed mainly to provide back up and competition at left-back for Jose Enrique. Cissokho had made no secret of his desire to join Liverpool and the only surprise is that a deal didn’t happen before this summer.

Although Jose Enrique’s injury means Cissokho should get an extended run in the side, his indifferent start to the season after coming back from an injury he sustained against Notts County will surely see the French defender return to his parent club when his loan finishes, unless he significantly improves his performances. 5/10.

Defensive re-enforcements were a priority for Brendan Rodgers over the Summer and besides the aforementioned goalkeeper and two defenders brought in to strengthen the side, Liverpool’s biggest outlay of the summer was spent on Mamadou Sakho. Signing for between £15-18m depending on which reports you believe, the powerful French defender arrived from his childhood club PSG with a big reputation, which prompted Managing Director Ian Ayre to call Sakho a “marquee signing”.

Breaking a strength machine at Melwood would set the tone for Sakho’s start and although Liverpool have not yet kept a clean-sheet in a game Sakho has started, his aerial prowess will prove to be a huge asset, coupled with his 91.5% pass completion rate thus far; Brendan Rodgers has a pleasant headache when he decodes who will start at the centre of his defence. I believe Sakho is a class player, who can and will flourish and reach his full potential for both club and country. 7.5/10.

Yet another defender to arrive at Liverpool was Tiago Ilori. Ilori broke sprinting records at former club Sporting Lisbon, recording faster sprinting times than both Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Nani, both of whom graduated through the impressive Sporting academy.

Despite not breaking any records at Liverpool thus far, if he can reach the heights that the aforementioned Sporting Lisbon duo have, he will prove to be a shrewd piece of business; but he is definitely one for the future and we must be patient to reap the maximum benefit. No rating as of yet.

Finally, the second loanee of the window came to Anfield in search of first-team opportunities after being frozen out at parent club Chelsea by more ‘house-hold’ names. Nigeria’s Victor Moses offers a more experienced alternative to current Liverpool starlets Raheem Sterling & Jordon Ibe in the wide positions.

He opened his account for Liverpool on his debut in a 2-2 draw away at The Liberty Stadium, but has found his chances somewhat limited by the return of Luis Suarez from suspension and Philippe Coutinho from injury as Rodgers looks to accommodate both Suarez and Sturridge centrally in his side, which has led to him sacrificing his use of wingers . Moses is a natural wide-man and as such needs to be deployed out on the flanks as was demonstrated by some relatively poor performances through the middle in Coutinho’s absence. Direct and powerful, Moses provides an exciting and different alternative to other options , however starting berths may be few and far between if the dubbed ‘SAS’ partnership continue to flourish. 6/10.

There has been a real variety in terms of how the new signings have started in their new surroundings. Some looks like they have first-team potential, others look t be potentially world-class, but they will all have to work hard across the course of the season to prove to Brendan Rodgers and the Liverpool fans that the trust shown in them by the club was justified.

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