As time has passed since the club announced a deal for Kolo Toure--free transfer, wages likely to be slightly higher than you'd expect for a backup defender but still not worth panicking over given the lack of a transfer fee--I've become increasingly pleased with the signing. Not overwhelmed in any way, and in no way blinkered that it's a perfect deal, but plenty content with the agreement. Jamie Carragher's retirement leaves a void that can likely be filled talent-wise but might not ever be emotionally, so the club are left to address the variables for which they can at least try to account.
Toure brings proven Premier League quality and little fuss; his off-pitch issues seem to be a couple of random bottle rockets rather than a full-on fireworks display, and so long as he's comfortable with a backup role (which he's had to cope with at Manchester City for the past two seasons), I don't see how this move is anything but beneficial. In my mind he becomes Sebastian Coates from this season, which hopefully allows the young Uruguayan to have his needs met while still remaining with Liverpool on a permanent basis, and the club to have a reliable fill-in when needed. What that means for Martin Skrtel is uncertain, though of he and Coates--and it may yet prove to be the case for both--it seems that the Slovakian's future is most in jeopardy with Toure arriving and Kyriakos Papadopoulos rumored to be following shortly.
So the veteran defender's arrival will address one need in the squad as it is, but it also satisfies one relatively small and specific area of concern ahead of next season, begging the question of what folks think the others are.
- Defensive midfield cover--Has anyone suggested Mohamed Diame? I'm the first? Excellent. Lucas needs cover and, much like the other areas of need, someone to provide reliable depth. Diame would be the player of choice, but someone who's going to step in and bring some physicality and skill to the defensive side of a midfield stacked with passers is needed.
- Fullbacks--Just buy all of them. Martin Kelly's return gives a bit more depth, but with talk of a shift to central defense longer-term and a spotty fitness record, there's again a need for more bodies on the right to push Glen Johnson. Same goes for the other side, where an up-and-down season for Jose Enrique leaves his spot fairly secure but not yet nailed-on. Plenty of the youngsters have promise (e.g., Ryan McLaughlin, Jack Robinson, Brad Smith, etc.), though few appear to be ready now.
- Wide/adaptable forward--I am tired of Stewart Downing, but I'm more tired of the incessant bashing that goes on. I stopped short of calling it "mindless" because it's typically well-founded criticism, though at this point it's just tiresome and lazy. He did well enough this season in a spot that Liverpool desperately need to improve, and this summer should see them add a player or two that can provide a consistent threat. Jordon Ibe might be closer than Raheem Sterling on very, very limited evidence, and another player to add to the ranks up top would be welcomed.
- Central defense--Toure is nice, Papadopoulos would be better, and adding those along with retaining the services of Skrtel and Coates is best. Skrtel and Papadopoulos challenge one another for the spot alongside Daniel Agger, Toure starts the cups and fills in, Coates goes on loan, and anything else is gravy.
Kolo Toure's a start, but what else needs to happen for this to be considered a transfer window in which all of the necessary boxes are ticked?