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Good Enough for the Bench?

Should Liverpool be concerned about the prospects of current players when delving into the transfer market?

An England or Liverpool training session?
An England or Liverpool training session?
Richard Heathcote

Liverpool have come off quite an impressive domestic league campaign where the club finished second, scored over 100 goals, ran the eventual champions extremely close, captured many neutrals' hearts, and provided entertainment.

Goalkeeping concentration may be furthered by genuine competition for the position as opposed to clear demarcations between first-choice and reserve in terms of ability. Defensive frailties, sourced from the system in place or driven by individual errors, require improvement. Such development could be accomplished through the addition of superior footballing individuals or through greater cohesion via consistent team selection along with enhanced defensive drills devised for a philosophy heavily weighted towards attacking. Fullbacks are needed, especially at left-back and another could arrive pending outgoing transfers.

Midfield depth would benefit from the continued adaptation of the extravagant talent that is Philippe Coutinho along with a central midfielder who has a rounded game to provide the energy of Jordan Henderson, the composure of Joe Allen, and the final third potential of Liverpool's number ten. An easy task to accomplish it seems. Gerrard and Lucas both lack energy to start together but the mooted arrival of the multi-purpose Emre Can would add box to box and single pivot options.

Liverpool's attack is a frightening proposal for many defensive units but it is surprisingly thin in terms of depth, a fact that has been known since the unsuitability of Iago Aspas and Victor Moses became clear. This leads to an crucial aspect for many Liverpool fans when assessing targets: suitability for the squad. Can a player be too good for Liverpool's bench? Daniel Agger and Mamadou Sakho offer desired depth one side of central depth because of Rodgers' seeming unwillingness to pair two left footers in the heart of the defence. Whether one agrees with the rationale or not, it has created the sort of contest a club requires if it is to compete in different competitions over the course of next season.

Now, Daniel Agger has been linked with a move away from the club following comments that he is unsure whether Brendan Rodgers thinks he's "good enough" to start games regularly and this echoed Jamie Carragher's observation that Rodgers was not "the biggest fan" of the Dane judging by the manager's preference for Sakho. Would the best option be to keep both players and provide greater competition for Martin Skrtel on the right side of defence through the return of Tiago Ilori or a new signing?

In midfield, Joe Allen has acclimatised to an important role as a high-level squad player for central midfield and his excellent end to the season revealed that his presence will not only be required but essential for next season. Jordan Henderson's absence for three key games in the title run-in exposed Liverpool's weakness in the composition of the midfield while in attack, the right players are needed to complement and support Luis Suárez, Daniel Sturridge, and Raheem Sterling.

If Liverpool added Mario Balotelli, Xherdan Shaqiri, Fabio Borini, and Suso to Liverpool's attacking ranks then only Suárez would be guaranteed of a starting place. Is Shaqiri too good for the Liverpool bench? Probably. Would it be wise for Sterling return to being a reserve after such a season of progress? That would be questionable but he has time on his side. Can anyone envisage Sturridge starting only ten league games next season after scoring over twenty league goals in 2013-2014? It would be difficult if he's available for most of the games but imagine Balotelli starting regularly over a cherished member of the squad.

Of course, these are mere hypothetical examples but is that what Liverpool should be striving for in the summer window? Should there be consideration of Sterling's age so perhaps a player who isn't too young should be sought like Adam Lallana or should a young player be placed in direct competition with another? Perhaps this is all far too many questions at this stage but there there have been concerns about certain players being pushed out of the first eleven as if they're precious, helpless, and unable to compete in the ghastly world of a bigger and better squad.

If Liverpool purchase good players, we may not see direct competition for the entirety of the season in the event of injuries and suspensions. There will be times when a talented new signing may oust a much loved and quality player who contributed to this incredible season and we may see an existing player work on noted weaknesses to become an essential component to a positive way of working. Henderson or Coutinho may both prove to be irrepressible in midfield and mature into some of the finest midfielders the Premier League has to offer. This may or may not relegate a midfield addition to the bench but Liverpool would benefit from certain players being pushed to provide improved performances to retain their place in the side.

We can still love the players and they're still worthy but this is a new world where competition should be expected and good may not be good enough when better is available.

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