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A Year on the Liverpool Offside: The January Window Closes

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jan31

In recent years, the January window's been relatively tame---2007 was maybe the most active, with Javier Mascherano and Alvaro Arbeloa among the names on the way in, and 2008 saw Martin Skrtel arrive with Momo Sissoko heading out. But 2009 brought only the exit for the recently arrived but underwhelming Robbie Keane, and 2010 had only Maxi Rodriguez arriving on a free with Andrea Dossena and Andriy Voronin leaving Anfield. Some notable names involved, including two of the current squad's more consistent performers, but few moves that have had the drama typically associated with the summer window.

So it would naturally follow that, with the club in turmoil for much of the early part of last season, the January window would hold something a little different than what we've seen in years gone by. That something started as sheer, unbridled optimism, as Kenny Dalglish's return meant respite from the darkest footballing days in Liverpool's recent memory, even if the results didn't turn around instantly. Two losses gave way to a draw in the Merseyside derby, but a comprehensive win away to Wolves---with a brace from Fernando Torres and one of the goals of the season from Raul Meireles---and a 1-0 win at home over Fulham seemed further the sentiment that the tide was turning.

That feeling was cemented even more when the club confirmed the arrival of Luis Suarez from Ajax just two days after the Fulham victory; there had been plenty of talk about Suarez in the past, but the announcement of his signing was met with collective jubilation. He had his baggage, including the fact that he left the Dutch club while still suspended for biting Otman Bakal of PSV, but his skill was undoubted, and the possibilities for him to link with Liverpool's attack-minded contingent appeared to be a perfect fit.

But things took a different turn later in the day, and it was the beginning of a saga that culminated in one of the wildest deadline days, January or otherwise, imaginable. The start of it seemed completely ridiculous, as Noel recounted after reporting the news of the Suarez capture. Later that night, though, the club confirmed news that was completely contradictory to everything we thought we thought we were pretty sure we knew---Fernando Torres wanted to leave Liverpool.

What continued to unfold over the next 72 hours was a strange mix of disbelief, rage, disppointment, sadness, grief, reluctant optimism, and, in the end, bewilderment at what in the actual fuck was going on. The penultimate day of the window proved relatively boring, but Monday ended up holding more than enough action.

It started off with lots of non-news, at least aside from the fact that Luis Suarez was actually a Liverpool player, and that was something that it was okay to feel happy about. The day picked up quickly, though, with destinations confirmed for most of those rumored to be on the move, save for Fernando Torres. With talk about Andy Carroll's imminent arrival, however, the departure of the Spanish striker was all but inevitable, and it was only a matter of time before it became a reality.

It came in the dying moments of the day, again via official confirmation from the club. Seeing as those releases are never injected with anything resembling a personality, Noel's thoughts were, and still are, much more apropos:

For all that it seems like only yesterday that Torres was Liverpool’s savior, destined to go down as one of the all time greats, looking back it’s been a rather sad, slow decline over these past eighteen or so months that has led to today. The constant injuries, the need to defend him against constant accusations of sulking, the whispers that it was only a matter of time until he left. And now he’s gone, and FSG have managed to bring in a pair of younger attackers to replace him with, providing yet another point of break from the struggling, tumultuous club that seemed on life support only a short time ago.

Just like that, a player that for most was enmeshed with Liverpool's identity moving forward was gone, and two young, promising forward men had the task of replacing him. One of them's accomplished that, at least in spirit and sheer adoration from the Kop, but few were looking too far into the future after a January 31st that will go down as one of the craziest in Liverpool's history.