Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers will be fighting for his job when he sits down with Reds management next month, and he’s already beset by speculation revolving around recently sacked Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti and a report that Borussia Dortmund’s Jurgen Klopp is intrigued by a Merseyside offer rather than taking time off after this season wraps up.
The Reds trudged through their most recent campaign with a sixth-place finish in Premier League, and exits in Champions League and FA Cup, putting Rodgers on thin ice after he spent more than £100 million to bolster the club last summer.
What Rodgers discusses with Liverpool president Michael Gordon when they do sit down will undoubtedly involve plans in the short and long-term, with this summer’s transfer market likely the main sticking point.
Rodgers will have to account for the transfer saga surrounding striker Raheem Sterling, as well as several attackers linked to arrivals and departures at Liverpool while Daniel Sturridge heals up from hip surgery.
In terms of Sterling, the 20-year-old certainly doesn’t lack for suitors. A rising star who has faced the ire of both supporters and Rodgers for speaking publicly about his ongoing contract dispute, Sterling has drawn the attention of such wealthy clubs as Manchester City, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, and even Arsenal.
And most recently Real Madrid have joined the cavalcade, with presumed new Los Blancos and former Reds manager Rafa Benitez a long admirer of Sterling’s and credited with recruiting the Englishman to Merseyside in 2010, according to Daily Mirror.
Benitez’s history with Sterling, and the fact that Madrid could trump Liverpool’s proposed £90,000-a-week wage make the Spanish giants a significant threat to land Sterling.
Nevertheless, Rodgers and Liverpool have insisted Sterling will not be moved this summer. Netting 13 goals and nine assists in all competitions this term, Sterling’s rated as high as £21.4 million but could go for much higher given he’s barely tapped his prime.
In fact, with Sturridge’s return to the pitch still a bit murky, the original idea was for Liverpool to pair Sterling with the long-expected signing of Burnley striker Danny Ings. However, Tottenham aren’t making what was supposed to be a simple transfer easy.
According to the London Evening Standard, Ings let Spurs know that he desires a switch to Liverpool but they attempting to thwart the Reds, with Burnley intent on earning as much as possible in the deal. It remains a possibility that if a fee cannot be agreed upon through normal negotiations then a tribunal may have to step in to settle the matter.
A free agent next month, the 23-year-old Ings posted a career year with 11 goals and four assists for the relegation bound side, and such production has Tottenham offering as much as £12 million, Sky Sports reports.
If Rodgers can’t fight off the competition for both Sterling and Ings, his time at Anfield could be cut short after only four years.
But there could be a form of hope in Aston Villa Christian Benteke, though the 24-year-old Belgian international responsible for 13 goals in 14 matches with the Villans is evidently demanding a guarantee to be named first-choice striker, Daily Mail reported earlier this week.
Benteke could cost as much as £30 million, a high price, but not one big enough to scare off the equally interested parties in Manchester United and Chelsea.
Making such a promise to Benteke is dangerous for Rodgers, but if Sterling is already on his way out the decision would be much easier.
Once concession Rodgers is likely to make is the failed signing of forward Mario Balotelli, but he might find it difficult to rid the roster of the £16 million Italian. The Guardian reports Balotelli’s agent, Mino Raiola, stated his client didn’t wish to leave Liverpool and even implied that the Reds are in agreement.
However, Rodgers’ public criticism of Balotelli throughout the season makes things difficult on both sides.
“Mario did [adapt]. I can’t talk for Brendan, that is a question for him, but Mario did and I spoke various times to the club and they were happy with Mario as a professional. I am confident it will happen next year,” Raiola said.