Looking ahead to the summer transfer window, Brendan Rodgers sets his sights on experienced players who can add some character to his young squad.
Because it's never too early to start thinking about the next transfer window, Brendan Rodgers has reportedly spoken to FSG about the need to bring in some experienced players who can play alongside the youthful transfers who have largely defined Rodgers' dealings during his first season as manager.
"The biggest thing we need this summer is to bring in some men, some character that allows and supports the other men to see the games out," Rodgers said. "That is the biggest thing for me. Look at Jamie Carragher. He is our best defender, he is 35, but we are losing that character. That has to be replaced somehow."
Ian Ayre stated earlier this winter that, contrary to popular belief, FSG do not have an official upper limit when it comes to the age of players Liverpool are actively recruiting. The preference for young, not always proven talent has been FSG's modus operandi thus far, with the understanding that these signings will be the seeds sewn for future greatness a few seasons down the road. It seems those in charge are now actively dialing down the youth-focused rhetoric in favour of acknowledgement that signing experienced players may have benefits beyond making an immediate impact in the here and now, especially in the role they can play in on-pitch development of young players.
"Personally, I just want the best team," Rodgers continued. "Whether that is senior players, youth players, or the best, which is the mixture. I always like to give young players hope but in order to do that they need that bit of experience alongside them."
Whether it was Carragher's retirement announcement that spurred club management into this new quest for character or if that was simply the tipping point after some long hard looks inward, Rodgers' shopping list now seems less about finding players who can play within a certain system and more about players with a specific type of attitude.
"They have to be established players and they have to have that hunger, that is the key thing."
Liverpool are in Year One of a rebuilding project, and the lack of European football is often cited as a deterrent to new signings who want the chance to fight for Champions League — or even Europa League — titles. While money and silverware can never be underestimated when it comes to player motivation, players who are interested in building something from the ground up rather than being parachuted into a title-challenging team aren't yet extinct in this sport.
Jamie Carragher may be retiring, but Liverpool are already in possession of multiple players — Daniel Agger, Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard — who have had interest from clubs that are odds on favourites to compete every year for top honours and yet have chosen to stay committed to the long-term cause of the club. For experienced players at other clubs who possess that same character and drive, Liverpool's current state might be the perfect place for them.