Pascal Le Segretain
With manager and chairman sending mixed messages, it appears Liverpool's transfer dealings could already be all but done. Or they're just getting started. Either way, it's time to run down the rumours as the first week of January nears its end.
"Our intention is to strengthen but actions will speak louder than words," said Tom Werner in November, seeking to placate fans still upset by the way the summer's transfer window had ended. "Obviously we have made some mistakes in the past but our intention is to deliver, strengthen the squad, and move forward."
"We are not going to have a lot of money to do anything [more] in the window," said Brendan Rodgers in January following the capture of Daniel Sturridge, seeking to cool expectations with the fans once again dreaming of splashy signings like Inter's out of favour attacking midfielder Wesley Sneijder.
"We know that January is a challenging time and I don’t want to say we’ve got x or y," said Werner, "but, hopefully, the fans will be pleased with what we do accomplish."
"We won't have [money] in January," said Rodgers. "There is not much more business to be done."
Right. So. Since I'm sure everyone's totally clear on where Liverpool stands now, we'd best move on to the rumours themselves.
When it comes to the "not much more" part of "not much more business to be done," of course, there is still room for something more. And to all appearances, that something is very likely to be the signing of Tom Ince. His potential move, previously considered a done deal, may have run into difficulties with Blackpool demanding a higher fee and Liverpool unwilling to raise their bid above the originally reported £6M, but there are now suggestions Ince and his father are putting heavy pressure on the Championship club to get the deal done.
The player's urgency in the matter could stem from the weekend's slate of third round FA Cup ties, with Blackpool set to take on Fulham on Saturday. If Ince were to play in that match he would then find himself cup tied in the competition, preventing him from playing for Liverpool should his move later go through and assuming his new club had advanced past Mansfield on Sunday.
Elsewhere, any further deals seem likely to follow along closer to Rodgers' lowered expectations than Werner's bullish optimism, with recent speculation that Liverpool are interested in bringing in Kevin Gameiro on loan likely to depend heavily on the club's ability to see Nuri Sahin's come to a premature end.
Sahin, a pale shadow of the player who won plaudits in the Bundesliga, has failed to make an impact for Liverpool since arriving over the summer and his wages are significant. As such, it's little surprise that the English club might seek to end his loan early—though with no room for him at Madrid, his Spanish owners will have little inclination to see him returned so soon.
However, rumoured interest from Dortmund and Inter Milan could provide an answer. The club he first made a name for himself at has in recent weeks made no secret of the fact they would have him back at the right price, while the Italian side will be in the market for a new midfielder should they manage to offload Sneijder—and Shain's name has found a prominent place in speculation about who that new midfielder could turn out to be.
If a new home can be found for Sahin, it might free up enough wages for Liverpool to complete the rumoured Gameiro loan. Gameiro has been considered a hugely promising talent for a number of years, but inconsistency on the pitch and PSG's efforts to buy the Champions League trophy have seen the 25-year old attacker to the fringes of the first team this season.
On paper, he's an intriguing talent. But he's an intriguing talent who has never quite lived up to the expectations set out for him—either for club or country, neither of which he plays that much for these days. He has also spent his entire career in the much weaker French league, a league that last season made Joe Cole look a solid midfield option.
Still, if he did arrive at Anfield it would be on loan, and his arrival on loan would seem to depend on Liverpool's efforts to get Sahin off the payroll first. As such, any downside to his potential arrival—that is, of one underutilised loanee replacing another—would seem to be far outweighed by the potential benefit should he come good. Together with the arrival of Daniel Sturridge and the return to fitness of Fabio Borini, his arrival would also see Liverpool's once threadbare attack turned into perhaps the deepest part of the squad.