Yeah, yeah, the transfer window just closed and there are still well over a dozen fixtures to be played this year. But some of us have this disease, that some places called rosterbating, that just can't be cured. So with that in mind, plus a week until the next match to waste time between, I thought I'd look ahead to what next year might offer. Now, some loans may or may not end up sold (Carroll is the most obvious, but there's also Pacheco and Spearing). And it'll be interesting to see what kids are ready to step up (Ibe, Sinclair, Pelosi, Coady, Adorjan, McLaughlin, etc).
So I gave a look at depth, and what might or might not be needed. May as well go back to front, since that last line is the subject of the day.
K - Pepe, with Jones and Gulacsi behind him. Ward, Stephens, and Belford providing depth from the youth. Not bad, but not that good either. Depending on how they feel about the 3 kids, getting a top notch kid could be a summer priority. Well, maybe not a priority, but definitely on the to do list. Gulacsi is homegrown, and decent enough depth, but if he's sold or otherwise moves on I doubt anyone would care. If Pepe is going (to Spain or elsewhere), then this becomes a huge priority, probably the biggest since all other first XI spots have solid, top 4 caliber options. But this is a need area.
CB - Agger, Skrtel, Coates, Kelly, Wisdom, Sama, Sokolik, Carra? Carra may retire, or he may sign on for one more year. Either way, he's little more than depth at this stage. Coates didn't get a loan, so it's hard to see him improving to the point of challenging Skrtel for a starting spot. Agger's got his on lock as long as he's healthy. With Kelly or Wisdom perhaps coming back centrally to add depth. Sama and Sokolik are near ready to add depth. Skrtel is the big question mark. Is he good enough? Would we be better off selling him to say someone in Germany, and going after a higher caliber player? Kind of like keeper, this is hard to call a huge priority unless someone is sold, but getting a higher caliber player for the spot wouldn't be turned away if a good deal was there to be made.
LB - Enrique, Johnson, Smith, Robinson, McLaughlin. Where's that horse again? Enrique is a good enough starter, although others may want better. Johnson and I assume McLaughlin, among others, can flip over if need be. Both Smith and McLaughlin are nearing the points where they can start to break through. Robinson would have by now if he could, but considering how he's struggled this year, I'm hesitant to call him anything more than squad depth. We definitely need to add a LB, and this, imo, should be either the #1 or #2 priority of the summer.
RB - Johnson, Kelly, Wisdom, Flanagan, McLaughlin. Johnson is among the best in the world. Kelly when healthy is solid depth although now he may be in a contract dispute, or shifted to CB once Carra retires. How he's handled in the summer will be interesting to watch. Wisdom has shown a lot for his age this season, and could either be solid depth behind Johnson, or shifted back to CB and provide solid depth there once Carra retires. Flanagan is like Robinson, but worse. Not really rated and doubtful to become more than squad depth. McLaughlin is the next big thing it seems, and could be ready for some first team action next season ala Wisdom and others this season. Adding another body (Samuel Inkoom?) wouldn't be a bad idea, if Wisdom and Kelly move back centrally, but we've got good depth here so it's quite low on the shopping list.
CM - Lucas, Gerrard, Allen, Henderson, Shelvey, Spearing?, then kids like Coady, Baio, Dunn, Lussey, Pelosi, and Roadan. We could definitely use some Lucas cover, and while not a top priority, this should be on the summer shopping list. Spearing comes back from loan after some good experience with Bolton. He may be sold, or could be kept to add depth in a Red Panda line alongside Allen. Coady seems in the Robbo/Flano boat of not likely to become more than squad depth. There's other kids getting to the age of starting to contribute, but just how much remains to be seen. With Lucas and Gerrard starting, Henderson, Allen, and others around, this isn't a huge need. But we lack a physically commanding presence, and a true Lucas deputy since Allen is more a Gerrard backup and Henderson best further forward.
AM - Henderson, Coutinho, Suso, Shelvey, Gerrard, Adorjan, Teixeira, Pacheco?. Henderson is taking this spot over, that much is clear to all. Coutinho could work in here, or on the wings. Suso and Shelvey provide solid depth behind Henderson, with Gerrard seemingly better suited to a deeper lying role these days. You've got Adorjan and Teixeira getting over 20, and both have the talent to compete with Suso and Shelvey for the job deputizing. Pacheco seems best suited here when he's not been in mystery, but I'd assume he gets sold as soon as we find a taker. Henderson when he needs a break or is otherwise unavailable. I'd say this spot is pretty well covered with the kids coming up and Coutinho coming in, and the best filled spot on the squad aside from perhaps RB or ST.
Wing - Suarez, Sterling, Coutinho, Downing, Assaidi, Sinclair, Ibe, Borini, Pacheco?. Suarez is world class anywhere up front. With a good bit of experience, and some more time to physically mature, we can assume Sterling stakes a claim to one of the wing spots next season. Coutinho fits in somewhere as another world class player, be it wide or in a #10 role. Downing is either sold or squad depth. Same with Assaidi although further down the pecking order. Borini could add an option wide or centrally as he continues to develop. Then you've got emerging youngsters like Ibe and Sinclair who could be ready to provide depth next year, as well as maybe some other guys working in NextGen and for the reserves like Adorjan, Nacho, etc. Depending on how Coutinho looks, and the continued development of Sterling, Ibe, and Sinclair, this may not be as much of a need as it has been of late. I'd still love to add a Son to improve the overall quality of depth, and depending on how much you want to trust Coutinho and the emerging kids, adding an elite player here might be priority #1 over LB. But it's not as bad as you'd think, in terms of going forward, as you might have expected, especially if Coutinho can emerge as promised and supplant Downing. If Downing gets sold, you'd want to add someone for veteran depth, and Assaidi may well get sold. With Henderson staking a claim at AM, this might be where Suso or Shelvey ultimately break in to the squad too.
ST - Sturridge, Suarez, Borini, Yesil, Morgan, Ngoo, Carroll? We can all agree Carroll is likely sold, hopefully to West Ham for 17m. Which should help fund a move on the wing, at LB, and perhaps at DM too. Sturridge is stepping up and clearly claiming this spot for his own. Suarez has shown he's more than capable there if Sturridge were not available. Borini has looked his best in the central attacking role too. Yesil is having a good season, and should be ready to provide solid depth next year. Morgan and Ngoo are getting work on loan, and can add to the decent depth here. While none of this guys are a Falcao or Cavani, they are quite solid. And Sturridge may well be ready to emerge as an elite player at his age, with his skills, and finally getting consistent work. While a Falcao, Cavani, etc might be the sexy target, do we really need such a player, and should we focus our money there with needs elsewhere? I'd say not, and this spot looks as strong as any in the squad.
Overall thoughts - All in all, there's a lot of quality there. Depending on Reina, and Skrtel/Coates, we may need a CB and GK, but definitely need a winger, a LB, and a DM. Otherwise, it seems the emerging quality from the youth ranks is getting to the stage where they can fill the holes in squad depth. Personally, I'd love to see the money from Carroll (assuming he agrees to terms with West Ham and that deal goes through) spent to purchase Son or another winger (Griezmann, Muinian, Turan, maybe Bastos to hold a spot until the kids fully develop, among others). Then hopefully the owners invest modestly to add squad depth at DM and LB. Maybe they go crazy, and try to buy Subotic or Hummels from Dortmund, or another potentially elite young CB to supplant Skrtel. But that doesn't seem likely.
Thoughts? Complaints? Suggestions?