OSLO, NORWAY - MAY 26: Andy Carroll of England walks off the pitch after the International Friendly match between Norway and England at Ullevaal Stadion on May 26, 2012 in Oslo, Norway. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
"The only thing I can say is we will do what's best for the club," said club chairman Tom Werner today when asked about the striker's future at Liverpool. "And at the moment, Andy is on the squad. He was an important member of the English team, he has got a lot of talent and we will see what happens there, but Brendan is clearly the leader and hopefully the question will be answered shortly. But at the moment, Andy is on the team and we are looking forward to his contributions."
And so Andy Carroll remains a Liverpool player—for now. He remains part of the squad—at the moment. He has a lot of talent—but Werner and Rodgers will do what's best for the club. The gulf between the language used to describe Carroll by both Werner today and manager Brendan Rodgers in the past week and that used to talk about other Liverpool players the club appears to value more highly is strikingly clear. Clubs like West Ham, Newcastle, and Fulham may not yet have been willing or able to match Liverpool's valuation, but it's no longer possible to think that if somebody does Carroll won't be gone in the time it takes Rodgers to say "yes."
The Liverpool manager has talked about building a side around Lucas Leiva. He's explicitly said that Martin Skrtel is in his plans going forward despite persistent rumours the defender could leave Liverpool. And on joining the club he had nothing but praise for iconic veterans Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard—though one is unlikely to play more than twenty games across all competitions as his career wanes and he drops down the depth chart while the other will be lucky to play more than twenty games due to persistent injury concerns.
"I had a really positive chat with Craig," was what the manager said when Welsh attacker Bellamy was first linked with a move to Cardiff. "It was good to meet him and get his side of the Liverpool story. He's a big supporter of this club—he loves the club. He has a real passion for Liverpool Football Club and that's the type of people I want here. I like his intensity, his work-rate and his passion so I would love him to be here."
"I’m confident he is really looking forward to playing for us this season and is really looking forward to this way of football," is what he said when rumours of Italian interest in Luis Suarez surfaced. "I have spoken to him and had nothing but positivity from him. He is obviously at the Olympics and I wish him well, but I will wish him better when he comes back."
When it comes to Andy Carroll, though, Rodgers has never been as unequivocally supportive. He's never sounded close to as confident in the player or as desirous to keep him around as he has in the cases of Gerrard and Carragher and Bellamy and Suarez and Skrtel and Lucas. When it comes to Carroll, Rodgers never seems able to work up more than a verbal shrug that doesn't go far beyond acknowledging that Andy Carroll is in fact a Liverpool player at this moment.
"To consider a loan period for someone the club spent £35million on isn't something we're looking to do at this moment in time," is how Rodgers' last defence of the player began. "Andy will be the same as every other player—if there's ever an offer that comes in we'd look at it as a club and see if it's going to be worthwhile for the club and the team as a whole."
Put next to the way in which the manager has talked about so many others this summer since arriving at the club, the stark difference is impossible to avoid. Alongside today's lukewarm praise for the striker by the club's chairman, it paints an entirely clear picture—and an entirely discouraging ones for those who had hoped to see Carroll given the chance to come good at Liverpool. The striker may well still be at the club once the season starts, and he may well be at the club when the transfer window closes, but it's clearer than ever today that if he is it won't be because the club wanted to keep him around.