Rodgers Targets Leadership

Julian Finney

With the season less than a week gone, Brendan Rodgers has spoken of the need to target leaders with a winning mentality—and the need to get the deals done as quickly as possible.

The transfer window doesn't officially open until the first of July, still nearly six weeks away, but Liverpool fans will have been hard-pressed not to notice the flurry of rumours linking the club to players in deals that, if the papers are the be believed, are already near to being completed.

It would be easy to write it off as nothing but paper talk, but according to manager Brendan Rodgers, getting any dealing done early is of the highest priority as the club look to have all the pieces in place early for next season's push to make it back into England's top four.

"That’s the ideal scenario," said Rodgers of his desire to see Liverpool get the bulk of their transfer dealings wrapped up early, perhaps even before players return for pre-season training early in July. "It’s always based on availability but hopefully we can achieve that."

Deals may always depend on availability in the end, but listing it as a determining factors in who the club goes after does suggest Liverpool will approach negotiations this summer with the intention of immediately switching to Plan B, C, or D if negotiations are moving slowly.

If the ability to get any deal done quickly is one key, another will be for the players Liverpool are after to have shown strong leadership abilities. With the club already well stocked with attacking talent, the goal now is to focus on bringing in players with determination and a winning mentality, no matter their age.

"A lot of great learning has taken place throughout the year both on and off the field," he added. "Now we want to build on the positive impact of the second half of the season. It’s our job as a club to look to bring in the types of players who will allow us to kick on again.

"There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes in order to reinforce the group. In order to breed the consistency needed to give us success, we need to bring in winners—those with the winning mentality. Everyone has to play a part in leadership.

"You get different types of leadership—some are purely by action and inspiration, others by organisation and more verbal. Taking on that responsibility is something that has to come from within the group here, but we’re also looking to bring in that type of player."

For all the talk of style and system, when Jamie Carragher displaced Martin Skrtel in the starting eleven the manager pointed to mentality and leadership as the main reasons why. Having lost Carragher to retirement, it can hardly be a surprise Rodgers has now placed a priority on finding such qualities.

And when it comes to players with those qualities, particularly in defence, the likes of City veteran Kolo Toure and Greek youngster Kyriakos Papadopoulos are at the top of everybody's list of players the club is believed to be targeting would seem to fit the bill.

Toure, though physically on the wane, has won the league twice and would provide reliable leadership in spot duty—at least assuming he is willing to accept a lesser pay packet and substitute role to remain in England and with a side closer to the top end of the table than the bottom.

Papadopoulos, meanwhile, has played regular first team football in Greece and then Germany since he was just 15 years of age and established himself as the vocal leader of a Shalke backline that helped the Bundesliga side to third in 2011-12 when he was only 20 years old.

Both are players who some have asked questions of physically—Toure for his aging legs and questionable fitness and Papadopoulos for his average pace and relatively short stature. Both, though, would seem perfect fits if Rodgers is set to place as high a priority on mentality as pure talent when it comes to this summer's transfers.

Which only really leaves the question of whether Rodgers and the club's backroom staff can now get the deals he wants done before players begin to return for pre-season.

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