Brendan Rodgers believes Liverpool can still attract the very best players. Recent history suggests he may be being overly optimistic and that the club is at the least either unwilling or unable to do so—and that perhaps it's both.
"I've said it many times before, I think this is a club which will always inspire top players to want to come to the history of this football club and the desires of it going forward." So said Brendan Rodgers, the day after Liverpool were defeated by one of the sides they'll have to get past to reclaim a spot in England's top four and with a good chance the club will head into the new year stuck in the bottom half of the Premier League table.
"In terms of what we're trying to achieve, I believe that some talented players can still come to this level and want to perform at a club like this. This is one of the leading clubs in the world and every football player, you want to play in the wonderful arenas like Anfield week in, week out and play for a club which is a magnificent club."
Of course, for many on the outside looking in, Liverpool's status as a magnificent club in the present—it's status as a club every football player in the world might aspire to play for—is very much open to debate. And while it's all well and good for Rodgers to talk about the club still being able to attract top quality talent, outside of Luis Suarez it's been an awfully long time since the club actually did.
"We are where we're at," he added, "[but] we don't intend to be there for very long. We want to keep growing and, running alongside that, we want to get good players in here—and that's something that I'll work tirelessly at doing."
If Rodgers' funds heading into the January transfer window are as limited as most believe, and if former Liverpool castoffs and out of favour Chelsea strikers stuck behind out of form ex-Liverpool strikers really are the level of target the club is aiming for, Rodgers words will end January seeming little more than bluster and empty sentiment.
The current owners certainly do deserve credit for alleviating Liverpool's debt concerns at a time when the club's financial situation was truly dire, but when it comes to competing in the transfer market there has been nothing to date that suggests attracting the game's biggest names is any more likely with Fenway Sports Group running the show than it was before they arrived.
Whether it's in any way reasonable for fans to expect FSG to be willing or able to do so is another question entirely, yet if Rodgers is to openly talk about Liverpool being able to attract the very best players in the world it's hardly unfair to point out that so far under their ownership it isn't something Liverpool has looked capable of. It's also not unfair to point out that given enough time out of the limelight it's something Liverpool won't be capable of regardless of whether or not the owners are willing or able to spend the sort of money it typically takes to acquire the very best.
The reasons why they aren't or haven't may be many, and they may be entirely reasonable, but that's another issue entirely. The issue here—and the reality of the situation, no matter the factors leading to it—is that any Liverpool fan hearing Rodgers' words and expecting a January that sees exciting, world class talent arrive at Liverpool is almost certain to be hugely disappointed.