There is no disgrace in going down to the European champions, but the manner of Liverpool’s 3-0 defeat to Real Madrid to silence Anfield on Wednesday again raised questions about key areas of Brendan Rodgers’s team. After an exceptional season last term, Liverpool have struggled at the start of this, losing three games in the Premier League and now two in the Champions League.
The second and particularly third goal against Madrid saw Liverpool again haplessly fail to deal with crosses being sent into the box, with Simon Mignolet’s command of his area once more called into question. While the Belgium international has shown himself to be a fine shot-stopper since joining from Sunderland last summer, the jitteriness displayed by a long line of defenders that have played in front of him does not reflect well on his ability to convey authority.
It is those issues that reportedly spurred Liverpool to investigate the possibility of bringing in former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes on a free transfer. The 32-year-old looked set for a move to Monaco in the summer, but is a still a free agent as he recovers from a cruciate knee ligament injury suffered in March. While Valdes’ agent recently denied that the player rejected the offer of a trial with Liverpool to prove his fitness, any hopes of a deal being reached now look dead. On Thursday, Liverpool’s fierce rivals Manchester United revealed that Valdes was now set to train with them.
“Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has offered the 32-year-old former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes a chance to complete his rehabilitation from a knee injury and to work his way back to fitness with the club,” read a statement on the club’s website. “Valdes, a free agent, will have his recovery supervised by the United medical staff before training with the first team, as he bids to regain full fitness.”
It remains unclear whether United plan on offering Valdes a permanent deal if he proves his fitness. Some rumors have suggested that the move is related to speculation linking United’s No. 1 David de Gea with a transfer to Real Madrid.
The other major talking point from Liverpool’s defeat to the Spanish giants was another ineffective display from Mario Balotelli that saw the summer signing taken off at halftime. Liverpool’s attacking options are thin on the ground with Luis Suarez departed and Daniel Sturridge still injured, fuelling speculation that Rodgers may attempt to bring in another forward.
In the past few days Liverpool have been linked to a pair of Argentina internationals. The Daily Express reports on stories coming out of Italy suggesting that Liverpool will make a move for Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain. The former Real Madrid striker has struggled for form at the start of the season, with rumors abounding that he has been left disheartened by Napoli’s failure to progress into the group phase of the Champions League.
Meanwhile, there have been reports of questionable validity floating around both England and Spain claiming that Liverpool are weighing up a £30 million transfer for Paris Saint-Germain’s Ezequiel Lavezzi. The one-time Napoli wide forward has made just two starts for the French champions so far this season. Yet, given the heavy outlay in the transfer market by Liverpool during the summer and the fact that Belgium striker Divock Origi will arrive at Anfield next summer after spending a season back on loan at Lille, it is hard to see big money being spent on a forward anytime soon.