Amidst a flurry of late exits, Liverpool closed out the summer transfer deadline Tuesday with what should be considered an excellent haul as the club looks to improve its standing in the Premier League and build towards a deep run in Europa League this term.
All told, manager Brendan Rodgers completed his fourth summer by signing seven new players, and initiated the departures of 18 others, most notably striker Raheem Sterling to Manchester City for a record £49 million.
Based off figures compiled by Sky Sports, the Reds paid a grand total of £77.5 million for their fresh blood, and generated £59 million in player sales and decreased their payroll with 10 loan deals.
The Reds completed deals to bring in several new players, including Christian Benteke from Aston Villa on a deal worth £32.5 million. Liverpool also added Roberto Firmino from Hoffenheim (£29 million), Nathaniel Clyne from Southampton (£12.5 million), Joe Gomez from Charlton Athletic (£3.5 million), Adam Bogdan from Bolton (free), Danny Ings from Burnley (free), and James Milner from Manchester City (free).
But more left Anfield, and none more prominent than Sterling, who joined Manchester City for a whopping fee that may be remembered as Liverpool's shrewdest move in years. Others who left Liverpool include Fabio Borini (£8 million) and Sebastian Coates (£2 million) to Sunderland, as well as Iago Aspas to Sevilla (undisclosed fee), Rickie Lambert to West Brom (undisclosed), Steven Gerrard to Los Angeles Galaxy (free) and Glen Johnson to Stoke City (free). The Reds also loaned out Mario Balotelli to AC Milan, Lazar Markovic to Fenerbache, Tiago Ilori to Aston Villa, Kevin Stewart to Swindon Town, Danny Ward to Aberdeen, Jordan Williams to Swindon Town, Harry Wilson to Crew Alexandra, Andre Wisdom to Norwich City, and Samed Yesil to Luzern. Brad Jones was released.
Shipping Sterling out of Anfield obviously cost Rodgers his best scoring forward outside of Daniel Sturridge, but it also rid the squad of a headache and facilitated the arrival of Benteke and Firmino. The Belgian Benteke should link up nicely with Sturridge once the Englishman returns from hip surgery.
Clyne and Milner greatly enhance both the backline and defensive midfield, without sacrificing scoring options, and make up for the losses of Johnson and Coates.
It will be three long months before the Reds can attack the transfer market, but they could stand to further spruce up the center back and defensive midfielder positions. Bayer Leverkusen’s Lars Bender, Swansea City's Ashley Williams, and Real Madrid’s Denis Cheryshev are three potential targets for the Reds.
At 26, Bender has already totaled 164 appearances and 15 goals for Leverkusen and could be an ideal fit at Anfield. He is a hard-working player who might be vital to Liverpool's Premier League success by containing playmakers like Eden Hazard, Yaya Toure and Mesut Ozil. Though he didn’t feature in last year’s World Cup victory, Bender has carved out a niche with Germany’s national team with 19 caps and four goals scored. Arsenal are also expected to pursue Bender’s signature and he's rated at a reasonable £18 million. But Bender's availability will likely depend on whether Leverkusen advance out of a tough group stage in Champions League this fall.
There are other possible holes to address, as well. Rodgers may be in pursuit of a new backline leader with some inconsistency at center back, and Williams could be a helpful boost. The 31-year-old has shown little signs of slowing down over the last seven years, tallying 287 appearances and 12 goals for the Swans, and looked particularly sharp when he cleanly dispossessed Wayne Rooney in the penalty box on Sunday. The Welsh veteran's market value is probably under £5 million, which would make him a low-risk investment.
Reports trickled out near the deadline that Liverpool were ready to make a £15-million deal for Cheryshev. He said publicly that he feels “privileged” to play for Los Blancos, but Express reported the Russian wanted to leave the Bernabeu this summer. Cheryshev has risen through Madrid’s youth camp, but has never made a first-team appearance. He spent last season on loan with Villarreal and totaled 26 appearances and four goals, but would almost certainly prefer to consistently feature for a big-name club.
While 19-year-old winger Jordon Ibe continues to develop, Cheryshev could provide more stability in the attack in the second half of the season.