As exciting a name for the future as Joao Teixeira might be, most would agree he isn't going to make a difference when it comes to where Liverpool finishes this season. On the other hand, when it comes to just what the biggest shortcoming of this Liverpool squad is—the biggest thing holding them back—very few seem to agree on anything. Does the club need an attacking midfielder who will make runs into the box? Do they need a player to fill in for Lucas this season and perhaps play alongside him down the road? Or do they need another option at striker or a more effective option on the wing? What should be the priority?
Liverpool can't score even though they went out and bought thirty-seven of the forty-two top chance creators in the Mongolian Superleague over the summer. True, the crosses may be drifted in and off target half the time, and nobody from midfield can be arsed supporting the striker more often than not, but there are chance-like chances being sort of created at a rate of 0.00000302 per picosecond. So the club could probably use somebody who might convert a few of them.
Or maybe they just need an extra option up front so they can play two out and out strikers, since as much sense as single-striker formations and support from midfield might make in the modern game for any side aspiring to compete at the top levels of football, doing that requires the aforementioned support from midfield dealie. And as everybody and their blind albino uncle has noticed over the first half of the season, nobody who isn't a striker on the club is willing to do that. So the only solution might be to take a page out of Mister Ferguson's handbook and buy lots and lots of strikers. Then Liverpool can have four or five on the pitch at the same time and nobody to supply them with the ball, which would seem like a bad thing but hasn't really gotten in the way of United winning an unfortunate number of trophies in recent seasons. Though on reflection that might not be the best argument for buying another striker.
Stewart Downing has no goals and no assists. Just in case you hadn't heard. Or at least he has no goals and no assists in league action, since he scored against Scunthorpe United or Didgeridoo City or someone in the Dairy Crest Milk Cup. Meanwhile, Jordan Henderson still isn't a winger and Dirk Kuyt's heading home to make a living pulling moray eel from the icy North Atlantic, leaving Liverpool short even when it comes to the not-quite-wingers the club has been shoving into wide areas since John Barnes gave up football and became a motivational speaker.
There may be chances being created, but the reality is that they aren't especially high quality ones, and a proper winger might just be able to help in that department—just as long as the Liverpool brain-trust is cool with nailing Stewart Downing and his £20M transfer fee to the bench. It also wouldn't hurt if Liverpool got a winger who when he wasn't sending crosses in was actually able to drive past fullbacks one on one and provide occasional support for the striker in and around the box. Rather than loitering out on the touchline looking ineffective. 'Cause that'd be cool and stuff.
By the time Liverpool actually manage the transfer of a first team player Luis Suarez will be back from his FA imposed exile on Elba, and for all the talk of Liverpool needing a clinical finisher, Suarez was plenty clinical until the circus kicked off after last fall's match against Manchester United. Back from his enforced vacation, there's every chance he could once again find the kind of scoring form he showed for club and country in a stretch that lasted from the 2010 World Cup through the 2011 Copa America and across the Khyber Pass.
All of which would still leave Liverpool with their biggest problem in recent months: Getting players into the box to support whichever striker is on the pitch and maybe or maybe not scoring. Gerrard and his groin aren't getting any younger, Jordan Henderson is a work in progress, Charlie Adam doesn't like physical activity, and Stewart Downing's still camped out on the touchline looking ineffective like he was two paragraphs back. Mostly it seems that all the chance creating players Liverpool poached from north of the Gobi would rather stand around admiring the chances they're creating than following them up, and so Liverpool needs a central support player with a bit of guile, a bit of drive, and just a hint of willingness to follow up his incisive pass with an equally incisive run into the box.
Rafa always said that life is like a box of chocolates: You build a world class spine and then worry about the shiny accessories. Or maybe he didn't say that. In any case, Lucas is injured and his most likely backup has been available for all of thirteen minutes since he got injured. Plus even when Lucas wasn't injured he was being paired with Charlie Adam, whose set pieces alone so far this season have been worth about ten quid and a packet of crisps. Meanwhile, the aforementioned Steven Gerrard and his aforementioned Steven Gerrard's Groin aren't getting any younger, and in any case they might be best suited to using what precious bodily fluids they have left supporting the striker so that somebody wearing Liverpool red will be following play into the box.
Liverpool's defence has been arguably the best in the league, and with the four starters just hitting their peaks while a number of strong developing options wait in the wings, the club's spine has been more than solid at the base. What's really needed now if the club wants to make a push back into the upper echelons of English and European football is to focus on getting the thoracic region back to the kind of level it was at when Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso sat behind Steven Gerrard in a central trio. With the defence as good as it is, if the club can get a payer to shore up midfield now before partnering with Lucas and Gerrard down the road while the captain shares time with Jordan Henderson and one groin eases away from the fray in favour of another, Liverpool's spine will be set for years and everything will be back on the Silk Road to glory. Or something.