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Who Follows Jonjo Shelvey Through the Exit Door at Liverpool?

The departure of Liverpool's young midfielder wasn't entirely unexpected, and as Jonjo Shelvey's likely not the last to leave, it begs the question of who follows him through the exit door.

Ronald Martinez

The pace at which Jonjo Shelvey's exit occurred was maybe what made it so jarring. I've long given up the idea that he had a spot at the core of what Brendan Rodgers wanted to do at Liverpool--the manager might have promised as much in Tynecastle Stadium last August, but that seems a long time ago now, at least long enough for his opinion of Shelvey to transform from vital cog in the club's midfield of the future to squad player to someone who's really not worth having around anymore.

That might be a little harsh, but the fact remains that Rodgers simply did not see Shelvey as important enough to have around, even at 21 years of age, and it's likely that there's a handful of others--though the reasons might be different--over the next few weeks and months who will find themselves taking a similar path in walking out of of Melwood for the last time.

More than a few have been linked with moves away, ranging from the player of the season and first-choice goalkeeper to those who have spent time on loan and youngsters who just don't seem to fit moving forward. There's also a range of interest and sentiment attached to those; strong feelings naturally exist regarding potential moves for Pepe Reina and/or Luis Suarez, but few are bothered about the long-term fate of Jay Spearing. Ultimately our sentiment doesn't matter much, and there seems to be consensus that someone will be leaving soon.

But who?

Spearing is the easy pick, as he was likely lower in the pecking order than Jonjo Shelvey, and toward the end of the season he openly discussed the likelihood that his future was not at Anfield. With interest reported from newly-relegated Wigan, there's no question that Liverpool would be willing to cash in. Same goes for players like Oussama Assaidi and Sebastian Coates, neither of whom got much of a chance under Rodgers, and youngsters like Adam Morgan, Jon Flanagan, Conor Coady, and Michael Ngoo could see temporary moves that lead to more permanent deals down the road.

The most interesting (or conflictual) discussion lies with Reina, Suarez, Martin Skrtel, and, maybe to a lesser extent, Stewart Downing. Most would celebrate an exit for Downing, though he's probably a serviceable squad player albeit vastly overpaid for the role his performances deserve, but there's stronger feelings about the earlier three. Each have been at the heart of some of Liverpool's most memorable moments of the past few seasons, and each could arguably have a positive impact if they remain. Each have also been strongly linked with a move away from Merseyside this summer, though, and like it or not, are part of the conversation.

So whether it's one or all of those three, the names mentioned earlier, or someone not picked out--Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique have been discussed from time to time as possible surprises--who follows Jonjo Shelvey through the exit door at Liverpool?

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