Hodgson stated this week that Liverpool need to look practically towards English players, in no small part because of ‘the way UEFA and Premier League rules are going’, adding ‘otherwise we’re going to struggle to get our squad numbers together’.
Certainly, the new Premier League ruling, ensuring each club will have to name at least eight ‘home-grown’ players in a squad of 25, will have some impact on prospective transfers. However, ‘home-grown’ players are defined as having been registered for three seasons at an English or Welsh club between the ages of 16 and 21. Hence the need to rush out and buy British is clearly nullified somewhat.
Hodgson’s pledge could be engendered simply by a desire to maintain, and add, a respective nucleus, whilst preserving the clubs future with a sprinkling of British youth. Capello would surely be happy to hear such sentiments, and perhaps so Liverpool fans given some of the nondescript imports under Rafa Benitez.
Nonetheless it should be noted that Benitez, often overly maligned for his transfer record, offered a parting gift in the capture of a highly-rated young English prospect; 18-year-old attacking midfielder Jonjo Shelvey, from Charlton.
Roy, then, looks set to actively continue this trend, but will also target more senior British signings on a distinct budget; posing questions regarding motivation and prospects. Indeed, Yossi Benayoun has departed for Chelsea and others could be going – there is, of course, continued speculation regarding Torres and Mascherano – whilst Hodgson looks set to scour the land for suitable reinforcements. So is this policy pretty much enforced? Selling stars, and bringing in cheaper and younger alternatives under the stifling blanket of Hicks and Gillett?
This is possibly a pessimistic view to what is potentially a refreshing progression, because if Hodgson is able to actively go out and get his targets, whilst importantly retaining his key crux (i.e. Torres, Gerrard and Mascherano), it could be very beneficial; the best of British at Liverpool.
He will have a small budget at his disposal, but will also have to sell before making a real foray into the transfer market. As suggested, it may be cut-price options – which Hodgson is extremely adept at highlighting and utilising – but he will also want quality. So, who will Liverpool feasibly be pursuing?
A few names have already been mooted; most notably the likes of Ashley Young – a great asset but likely to prove difficult to acquire – and Steven Taylor. Other players such as Ryan Shawcross and Micah Richards are alternatives, whilst squad strengthening at left-back is surely a priority. Certainly it is likely to be this more affordable level of clientele, as other ‘in vogue’ English talent, in the form of James Milner, Adam Johnson et al, will be too costly. If wages can be negotiated, Joe Cole would an ideal option.
Buying British is potentially a commendable policy, but could be difficult; the best are vastly overpriced, the next tier down – where Hodgson might be forced to deal – may not really provide adequate quality. It’ll be interesting to see the next development at Anfield. Hopefully Hodgson can commence a process of adding top English talent. However, you inevitably, and frustratingly, get the feeling that strangulating off the field forces need to be sorted before any manger can effectively and properly assert their true ideals.
As Hodgson stated: ‘The fans want the best for Liverpool Football Club’
‘They want the best players and the best quality football, and they know the only way to get that is to have the quality of players on the pitch and they cost money’.
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