The situation at Arsenal, with the contract standoff of Alexsis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, was one of the most discussed sagas of the last transfer window. It was seen as an indictment of the club in their handling of their top players. Allowing for players of their calibre to reach only twelve months left on their contracts could cripple Arsenal if they do not regain Champions League football.
However, as James Pearce of the Echo points out, Liverpool has eleven players approaching eighteen months left on their contracts. Is Liverpool in just as precarious a position as the Gunners?
Thankfully for Liverpool fans, the answer is no. The situation isn’t as dire for the Reds as Arsenal. Only one of the eleven players will run out of contract this summer. However, with the clock ticking, Liverpool need to make some hard decisions or face a serious squad exodus in the summer of 2019.
Here we shall look at the players in question and what will be the best course of action for the club to take.
Liverpool’s Contract Dilemma
As the player that has received the most publicity, Emre Can’s contract issue is also the most pressing. Now a regular first team player, tying Can to a long-term deal seems vital after all the investment put into developing him.
Can is rumoured to be holding out for a release clause in any new contract. As Arsene Wenger speculated, this will become a likely source of conflict with the growing strength of clubs to resist large transfer offers. The size of the release clause will dictate the willingness of each side to accept the proposal. However, Liverpool will get nothing if Can refuses to sign and walks away.
With the heavily rumoured interest of teams of the stature of Juventus, Can cannot be blamed for having his head turned. Liverpool may need to accept a lower release clause than desirable in an effort to protect the dropping value of a prized asset.
Verdict: Sign him up, whatever it takes.
Klavan’s arrival at Liverpool left many desperately searching to find out who he was. His performances on the pitch for Liverpool have been underwhelming in general.
The Estonian has struggled to adapt to the pace and intensity of the Premier League. Although he was bought as a third choice centre back, he has regularly found himself starting games and costing Liverpool points. If Liverpool wishes to improve their defence, he should not be a part of it.
At 31 there are still some miles on the clock. Therefore, if a top centre-back is brought in during the winter or summer transfer windows, Liverpool need to look to off-load the Estonian.
Verdict: Sell, when a top centre-back comes in.
The fact that this is a debate shows the strides that Moreno has made since the start of this season. Once exiled to the bench, with James Milner preferred, Moreno seems to have established himself as Jurgen Klopp’s first choice left-back.
Whether he has the quality to maintain this role will come down to the positive early form of Andrew Robertson and the money available to Klopp. With the investment needed for other defensive roles, fixing the left-back spot may need to wait. In the meantime, a new deal would protect the potential value of a player who seems to be improving.
Verdict: A new contract.
Liverpool’s utility man, James Milner seems to struggle to fit well into any role in this Jurgen Klopp side.
When he has played, his determination and drive have meant that he has not let the Reds down. However, it is hard to see any long-term role for him at Liverpool. Milner’s future will depend much on his desire to play first-team football.
The case of Lucas Leiva has shown that Klopp will not stand in the way of a senior player leaving to gain first-team football. A modest fee would bring some financial benefit to the club. With the positive start in the Championship of Leeds United, maybe a fairytale ending to James Milner’s career could be on the card.
Verdict: Sell this summer.
Woodburn seems to be the future of Wales and Liverpool. This is simple but needs to be done as soon as possible.
Verdict: A bumper new contract.
Calling Lazar Markovic’s time at Liverpool an utter failure is being kind.
The young Serbian never adapted to playing for the club. He has failed to show, other than in sporadic bursts, the reason for the £20m fee paid for him. Yet, on loan at Hull last year, there were glimpses of the player Liverpool had thought they were signing.
This gives some hope to recoup a chunk of the money invested in him. With the traditional panic of clubs in the winter window, there still remains the possibility of a decent fee for Markovic. Liverpool needs to sell this window or that fee will fall to next to nothing by next summer.
Verdict: Sell, as soon as possible.
For so long, the relationship between Liverpool fans and Daniel Sturridge has been based on what he was, rather than what he is.
It is time to realise that he will never be the Daniel Sturridge of 2014 again. That said, he could still offer something. However, Liverpool cannot afford to have one of their top paid players as a substitute.
Sturridge right now would still command a decent fee. It may well be time for Liverpool to cut their losses and replace him with a top goalscorer who can stay fit for a season.
Verdict: Sell next summer.
Still only 22, Origi has never lived up to the wonder-kid billing. He has potential, however, unless he takes the opportunity of regular football at Wolfsburg this season, he will end up another average player who had the world at his feet.
The fact that Dominic Solanke was kept at the club rather than Origi, suggests Klopp’s patience is starting to run out.
Verdict: Sell this summer.
Jon Flanagan/Connor Randall
Both right-backs and both far down the pecking order, there seems little future for either of these two local lads. Flanagan has struggled after his injury woes and Randall is not the required level. Both players with lots of heart, but not enough ability
Bogdan will never get a match with the current goalkeeping options available to Klopp.
However, it is unlikely that Mignolet, Karius, and Ward will all remain with the club next year. If one of them goes, there is a spot for a backup to the backup. Bogdan has the ability to do that job.
Verdict: Let the contract run down.