By Daniel Moxon – @dmoxon_
January is just weeks away, meaning that everyone’s favourite rule inspired by the legal plight of a 90s Belgian footballer is about to come into play.
Yes, the Bosman ruling – brought into existence after the experience of Jean-Marc – will once again allow clubs to approach players whose contract expired in summer 2019 in the hope of bolstering their squads with some freebies – it really is an opportunity to grab a great bargain.
It’s a rule that Liverpool have had no hesitation in utilising in recent years, with Joel Matip and James Milner both having arrived at Anfield in recent times following the expiry of their respective contracts with Schalke 04 and Manchester City.
It seems increasingly likely, however, that the Merseyside club will be on the other end of one or two similar transactions by the time July rolls around.
The deals of four senior players – I admittedly use the word ‘senior’ a little loosely with one particular player – currently at the club will run out in six months’ time, but who will Jurgen Klopp look to keep around, and who will be allowed to leave? Let’s take a look…
Funnily enough, Liverpool could find that they lose the man they got for nothing in the exact same manner.
Having joined the club in the dying embers of Brendan Rodgers’ tenure with the Reds, Milner has been an important player under Jurgen Klopp, providing a calming presence on the pitch as well as being a huge influence to the other players – especially the young lads – in the dressing room.
So key too has been his versatility. Even just at Anfield he has played in a number of positions in the midfield, spent a full season at left-back and, most recently, has deputised at right back in the absence of Trent Alexander-Arnold through injury.
If one thing is against him it’s the fact that he turns 33 next month, though he still constantly outdoes everyone in the lactate fitness tests and really does seem to be getting better with age.
VERDICT: I’d be shocked if his contract isn’t renewed. He’s in fine form, offers so much to Jurgen Klopp’s system and is an experienced professional that the Reds need to keep around. Give him an extra year or two and throw in a lifetime’s supply of Ribena for good measure.
One minute he’s going, the next he’s staying. He goes out on loan and then is kept around – I don’t think Jurgen Klopp quite knows what to do with our Studge.
Signed from Chelsea for £12m in January 2013, Sturridge was lethal for his first 18 months on Merseyside and oh-so-nearly fired the Reds to the title alongside Luis Suarez in 2013/14.
Alas, injuries would strike and we all know this story. He hasn’t ever been able to stay fit for long periods during Klopp’s time at the helm and is firmly behind Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah in the pecking order for the starting striker spot.
That being said, he’s still very much a useful squad player and has popped up with some big goals this season – his opener against Paris Saint-Germain at Anfield was key to the Champions League campaign, while his impact off the bench at Stamford Bridge could be vital when it comes to the climax of the Premier League title race.
There has rarely been a lack of interest in the 29-year-old striker, both from the UK and abroad, with both Inter and AC Milan having been a rumoured destination on more than one occasion in the last 12 months. It isn’t inconceivable that one or both of them could come in with a pre-contract offer between now and the summer.
VERDICT: Really could go either way. I’d like to see him stick around but I’m not sure if it’s more for nostalgia than for his actual usefulness. I feel there are better uses for his sizeable wages, and get the impression that the club feels the same way.
It all could have been so very different.
When he arrived he was hailed as a star of the future, with a burgeoning reputation built at his hometown club Sevilla. After getting his big move to Liverpool, he was supposed to rival some of the top left backs on the planet – safe to say, that didn’t happen.
In reality, he’s probably better suited to being a winger than a defender as, to put it simply, he can’t defend. He was particularly abysmal against his former club in the 2016 Europa League final in Basel, and hasn’t really recovered since – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a defender with such poor awareness of positioning.
Albie seems well-liked within the squad, he regularly makes people laugh on social media and clearly is a positive personality to have around in the dressing room, but a club with domestic and continental title ambitions can’t rely on a player like Moreno, even if only as a backup.
He recently said in an interview that he has been offered a new deal by the club, but I get the impression that this is more of a ploy by he and his agent to drum-up interest in January rather than anything of genuine substance. He also scored a massive own-goal off the pitch just after Christmas, saying in an interview that he had been treated badly by manager Jurgen Klopp…
VERDICT: He’s a goner. Sadly, he’s just not good enough to stay at the club and I’d be stunned if his stay was extended. It’s likely that a replacement will be sought in the summer, but there’s a good chance that highly-rated youngster Adam Lewis could make the step up to be Andy Robertson’s understudy, with the aforementioned Milner as extra cover.
I did say that I was using the word ‘senior’ loosely – he’s about as close to turning out for the Liverpool senior side as I am.
Another one who was signed as a star of the future, flopped spectacularly and is far from good enough to play for the club – Markovic has failed to even keep himself fit enough to impress on his loan spells away from Anfield.
The club spotted that long ago and have been trying to offload him for a long time, with little success. He was close to an exit to Anderlecht at the end of the summer window for around £3m but that one fell through, obviously, and so he’s still on the payroll at Liverpool, despite having pretty much zero chance of ever making a first-team appearance for the club again.
VERDICT: Do you really need me to say? The club have been trying to get rid of him for long enough. It’s £19.8m terribly spent (not to mention his wages while here), but once he’s gone we can put this whole thing behind us and thank our lucky stars that recruitment has vastly improved.