Though he addressed Mario Balotelli’s poor play at Anfield and kept him in the starting XI for Saturday’s matchup against Hull, manager Brendan Rodgers did say the Italian was in danger of being sold if his play didn’t pick up, even with Daniel Sturridge still recovering from injury.
Following the nil-nil result versus Hull, with nothing to show from 17 total shots and 10 corner kicks, Rodgers may have to stay true to his word and move the 24-year-old in the upcoming transfer session.
The Reds slipped back to sixth on the Premier League table, only two points behind fourth-place West Ham and they can certainly make up some ground in victories. However once the race enters the final stretch in the spring, Liverpool will need goals a plenty to at least secure Champions League qualification, goals Balotelli isn’t providing.
But who can Rodgers add? Any hopes of snatching another top striker from Italy were dashed earlier this week when Gonzalo Higuain’s brother, Federico, insisted that any talk of a switch to Anfield was incorrect, The Express reports.
Liverpool were apparently ready to offer £31 million to Serie A’s Napoli, with Arsenal also monitoring the situation.
"I have read and heard different things about my brother, but none of these things correspond to reality,” Federico said according to Express. "People have spoken of the disappointment of not qualifying for the Champions League, and that this has caused resentment from Gonzalo.
"Nothing could be further from the truth. When I speak to my brother he is calm, and happy to wear the shirt of Napoli.”
The Italian side has Higuan under contract until 2018, and shelled out £37 million for him less than 16 months ago, so its unlikely they’d be willing to part with him anytime soon.
Another way for Rodgers to turn is Bayern Munich winger Xherdan Shaqiri, who’s been linked with Liverpool several times in the last year. Daily Star reported earlier this week that the Swiss desires more consistent first-team action, which he’s not getting at Allianz.
Even with Munich insistent on keeping the 24-year-old, at a market value of £20 million Liverpool would be getting a much better deal than for Higuain. Though the Star indicated that Schlake are also circling around Shaqiri, which could pose problems for the Reds if they hope to keep the transfer fee down.
At least Liverpool know Shaqiri wants to play in Premier League, unlike the well-documented Borussia Dortmund star Marco Reus. For months he’s been linked to Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal but the Star reported that Reus instead wishes to join Real Madrid this winter. And the 25-year-old won’t play anywhere else.
There are of course issues on the defensive side of the ball that Rodgers must address as well. According to Daily Mirror, the Reds could make a move for AC Milan full-back Ignazio Abate in January, or wait until his contract is up in the summer.
Abate and Milan were unable to workout a contract extension, and now Rodgers might have found his replacement for Glen Johnson. Though a loan might be a better option for all. Abate’s spent five different stints on loan since he moved up to Milan’s senior team in 2003, and he has expressed a desire to stay at San Siro.