Just a few days after the end of the Premier League season, Liverpool appear to be well underway in the process of overhauling their central defense ahead of the upcoming campaign. Veteran Jamie Carragher has now played his last game for the club, having retired, while there are also doubts about the future of Sebastian Coates, who has made little impact since joining two years ago, and Martin Skrtel, who found himself out of the side in the closing months of the season.
And plans appear well underway for their replacements. The Guardian reports that Kolo Toure is set to arrive from Manchester City on a free transfer, while a £12 million offer has been made for Schalke’s Kyriakos Papadopoulos. Toure has featured sparingly for City in the past two seasons but would replace some of the experience that has left the defense with Carragher’s exit. Yet, at aged 32 and likely to come on a high salary, he does not fit the mold of Liverpool’s signings under Brendan Rodgers. The Ivorian has had a significant drop in his performance level since his days at Arsenal.
It is the potential signing of Papadopoulos that is more significant. The 21-year-old Greece international is one of Europe’s best young defenders and it would be a significant coup were Liverpool able to tempt him to Anfield given that Schalke have qualified for the Champions League and some of Europe’s leading clubs were said to be monitoring his progress. The one caveat over Papadopoulos is a knee injury that ruled him out for the second half of this season. But Liverpool are believed to be content that the player has made a full recovery, although they may yet have to up their initial offer.
The moves for Toure and Papadopoulos comes as Liverpool are thought to have ended their interest in Swansea City captain Ashley Williams. The defender was touted as a leading target for both Liverpool and Arsenal, with the Reds thought to hold an advantage because of Rodgers having worked with Williams at Swansea. But, according to the Liverpool Echo, Liverpool have been put off by the Welsh club’s £12 million valuation. With Williams turning 29 at the start of next season, Liverpool’s hierarchy is understandably concerned that the deal doesn’t represent optimum value for money.
Meanwhile, Liverpool’s transfer funds this summer look set to be boosted with the club having accepted a £15 million offer from West Ham for Andy Carroll. The striker has spent the past season on loan at the London side, where he scored seven Premier League goals. Despite Carroll costing £35 million when he signed in January 2011, Rodgers never hid the fact that the England international did not fit into his plans after taking over last summer and Liverpool are prepared to take a significant loss.
It remains to be seen, though, whether Carroll is so enthusiastic about moving to Upton Park on a permanent basis. The target man is thought to be keen on a return to Newcastle in his native north east.