There's less than a month to go in the season, and already a few supposed primary targets for Liverpool Football Club have begun to take shape. Plus there's some potential good news for anybody hoping the club might change their stance on the usefulness of players like Dirk Kuyt and Maxi Rodriguez. And the Alberto Aquilani watch has returned with a vengeance—because honestly, on some level, you always knew it was going to happen when he was loaned back to Italy for the second year in a row…
Sadly, when it comes to rumour mongering, TalkSport is about as reliable as it gets in a world of Caught Offsides, though that isn't exactly saying much. Still, they claim to have cracked the confusing code of the player's AC Milan move, suggesting that rather than being a case of only granting half an appearance for substitute appearances that's kept him from hitting the magic number 25 that would trigger his outright sale it's a case of only counting league appearances and not cup or European outings.
Whichever it is, Aquilani's between one and a half and four games away from being a Milan player—depending on how one chooses to count—and there are suggestions coming out of Italy that the club will purposefully sit him for the season's remaining five matches in order to ensure they don't have to pay five million pounds to keep him. If that's the case, Alberto Aquilani will officially be a Liverpool player once again in less than a month. Technically, at least. Because this is Alberto Aquilani and nobody could possibly believe that if he does somehow return to England it will end up puppies and sunshine.
In genuine incoming rumour mongering—as opposed to possible returns everybody knows won't last even if they do happen rumour mongering—the most commonly touted name in recent weeks as the speculation heats up with the season winding down has also been Iceland's biggest success story since their economy went and decided it didn't want to live on this planet any more. And certainly, if poaching the best players from mid-table clubs is still to be a cornerstone of Liverpool's long-term plan, then there are few better names out there than Sigurdsson. Similarly, if having shown they can play in the Premier League is to be of key importance, there are also few better potential targets.
He's a natural pass and move player with the drive to support a single striker in a 433 or 4231, fitting in seamlessly at Swansea City after a loan move from Hoffenheim in January when he had fallen out with manager Holger Stanislawski. Since arriving, he's scored seven times in 15 appearances, which follows a record of nine in 36 before leaving Germany. At 22, he's far younger than his mature and confident play would suggest, and with Steven Gerrard's fitness growing more uncertain by the week he offers the promise of both a long-term replacement and one who on evidence would be able to step right into the starting eleven at the tip of a midfield trio any time the captain wasn't available.
The biggest stumbling block—outside of a transfer fee that's been rumoured in the £10-15M range—would likely be that Hoffenheim manager Stanislawski found himself out of a job shortly after Sigurdsson was loaned out to Swansea. Markus Babbel, his replacement, has since talked about how he would like to have the midfield playmaker back. Oh, plus all the rumours linking him to Liverpool are connecting him to Manchester United, too. So that could be a bit of a stumbling block as well.
Dirk Kuyt and Maxi Rodriguez
With Damien Comolli gone, many of Liverpool's signings from last summer still appearing far from fully settled, and questions of just who was driving the move towards young and British that had seen some of the club's veterans marginalised still hanging in the air, there may be early signs of a shifting of intent. Or it could simply be another batch of baseless rumours while behind the scenes nothing has changed. For now, though, the rumours of the club being eager to offload Kuyt and Maxi to anybody who would give them a half-full bottle of Lucozade in return have been replaced by whispers that there is now a determination to keep the two veterans around for at least one more season.
If true, this would be a very good thing, both due to the added strain involvement in next season's Europa League will bring and also because it suggests at least a slight tweaking of the club's outlook on transfers and playing staff that is more than welcome after the failures of recent transfer windows. Though of course it may not be true, or the players themselves may have understandably become fed up and wish to leave regardless of whether the club wants to hold on to them. Still, it could be good news. If it's true. Maybe.
One thing that quickly becomes clear when it comes to rumours is that you can't believe anybody. In the end, an agent or player suggesting a link to a club is nearly as unreliable as Dan's second uncle who works in the ticket office telling him something that he tells a supposed Twitter in the know that gets mentioned on a fan form that gets printed on Tribal Football that gets picked up by the Daily Mail. Which is to say that even if a player says he's had interest from Liverpool it doesn't actually mean anyone should think he's a legitimate target or at all likely to arrive in the coming months.
So with that out of the way, two-footed striker Jackson Martinez of Mexican side Jaguares has said that both Liverpool and Porto have talked to his agent about acquiring his services and that he expects to be playing in Europe next season. The 25-year-old so far has a fantastic strike rate of 101 goals in 155 games in senior competition for Colombia, Jaguares, and his youth club Independiente Medelin, though having never played in any European league many will be wary of an extended adjustment period.
When asked about his links to Europe, the BBC's Tim Vickery—a man who was on the Coates story early and believed the Uruguayan defender was one of the best prospects in South America—broke down Martinez thusly:
He's an out-and-out goalscorer, a front-to-goal centre-forward who can finish off both feet, and with excellent spring that makes him a threat in the air. Something of a late developer, he burst into life three years ago when he broke scoring records in Colombia with Medellin, and has since carried that form into Mexican football. The Premier League is a step up, though. His touch and general approach play are not great, and the worry would be that he might not build up a head of steam to feel confident about his game.
Further, some sources are claiming that Liverpool have already made a £3M downpayment to Jaguares, with £6M to follow once they can make the signing official. This, however, seems even more wildly speculative and hard to believe than Dan's second uncle.