Although Brendan Rodgers insists he is not desperate to offload Andy Carroll, it looks increasingly likely as though the striker will soon depart Anfield.
The Reds paid a club record £35million to take the England international in January 2011, yet in the 18 months since, he has struggled to find his best form. Carroll has scored just six league goals in 42 appearances for the Merseyside club, compared to the 11 in 19 during the first half of the 2010-11 season which persuaded Kenny Dalglish to take him from Newcastle United.
Since the arrival of Rodgers as the Scot’s successor at the end of last season, it has become fairly evident that the 23-year-old has little future at Anfield. The former Swansea City manager has his own ideals on how the game should be played, which he demonstrated at the Liberty Stadium last season, and he has no room for the 6ft 3in target man.
A number of clubs have been credited with an interest, including his former employers and West Ham United, whilst even Italian giants Milan have been linked. Liverpool, it has been suggested, would be willing to take a loss and sell for £20million, but would also consider loaning the player for a fee with the view to a permanent transfer at the end of the season.
Whilst Rodgers could be applauded for having a clear vision of how he wants his side to develop, it could also be argued that he is taking a risk in dismissing Carroll from his plans. After all, since when has it done any harm to have a Plan B? If there are times in the coming season when finding a way through a packed midfield is proving difficult and valuable points are at stake, then there is a case for taking a more direct route, in which the physical presence of their £35million would be beneficial.
Carroll showed signs of improvement towards the end of the season, notably in the FA Cup final when he played a huge role in almost taking Chelsea to extra-time at Wembley. He also impressed at Euro 2012, despite only being given one start by Roy Hodgson. His header in the 3-2 group win over Sweden was one of England’s highlights of a tournament in which they crashed out in the last eight against the Italians on penalties.
Additionally, the striker still has four years remaining on his contract, so Rodgers could afford to give him the opportunity to impress over the coming nine months in the knowledge that his value is unlikely to plummet much from price reportedly placed on his head at the moment. A potential loss of £15million after 18 months seems drastic, but the same loss over 30 months whilst still costly, at least a little less so.
And Rodgers must also consider that although he has a clear vision of how he wants his Liverpool side to play, he doesn’t yet have the tools at his disposal to implement such a style. These things take time, and there are sure to be occasions in the coming months when his players need to get to grips with what is being asked of them; at least with Carroll, he knows what he is getting. And if he can build on the form he showed towards the latter part of last season, maybe he will be a more valuable asset than currently imagined.