Sports News of Thursday, 17 May 2018
“We don’t need a striker, we need a multi-functional player. Another Mane, if you like.”
“You could probably play Mane up front if you wanted to. He can play left, right or up front, like someone like Alexis Sanchez can.” Those were statements from Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher in an interview with Goal.com regarding the Reds preparations for next season. After securing a second straight top four finish under Jurgen Klopp and with the chance of winning a first trophy under the German with the Champions League Final a fortnight away, Liverpool is primed to contend for the Premier League title next season.
With a lot of games to play on the back of a World Cup, Liverpool needs as many players as possible to weather the effect of what will surely be another long season in 2018-2019. The team’s attack this season has been sensational as Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have fired in a lot of goals. Salah has won the Golden Boot in the Premier League and is still contending for Europe’s version.
Signing Virgil Van Dijk in January has proven to be a masterstroke as Klopp’s infamous leaky defense steeled up after the Dutch international’s signing. Van Dijk, Salah, Giorgino Wijnaldum, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Andrew Robertson represent an excellent return from signings since Klopp took over as manager.
Mane has been an excellent pickup for Klopp too and the Senegal international has improved since arriving at Anfield playing in several positions up front for the Reds as Carragher stated. But Klopp is notorious for running his men into the ground and at certain moments during the season, fatigue caught up with many players especially his frontmen.
Beyond Salah, Mane and Firmino, Danny Ings and Dominic Solanke and the perpetually stricken Daniel Sturridge are the replacements. Ings, Solanke and Sturridge have not produced enough to merit a place behind the attacking trio and Liverpool must sign players this offseason to fill their spots. And the Reds don’t need your everyday front man, Liverpool needs a multi-dimensional striker who fills a lot of holes and Ghana striker Jordan Ayew ticks all boxes for this role. Ayew just wrapped up his season with Swansea scoring 11 goals and emerging as the best player for the relegated Welsh club. In his time in England, Ayew has played a variety of roles upfront for Aston Villa and Swansea.
He was deployed behind Tammy Abraham or switched flanks with his older brother Andre who rejoined the Swans in January. Jordan’s speed, off the ball movement and “okay” strike rate makes him an ideal candidate off the bench for Liverpool next season. Versatile front men don’t come cheap in the market as Manchester United experienced with Alexis Sanchez’s transfer from Arsenal. The Reds have already paid in the region of $80 million to secure the services of Naby Keita even before the summer spending commences and a defender and goalkeeper is on the wish list. Fleshing out the secondary options for the attacking line will be quite a challenge since there is likely to be little money left.
Jordan Ayew should cost the Reds in the region of $8-10 million as he prepares for his third season in England’s top flight since transferring from Ligue 1. Starting a lot of games will be hard to come by for Jordan at Anfield considering the elite class of attackers in front of him but that is not the target. The target is to come off the bench or start games in cases of injury but providing just enough quality to prevent the team from skipping a beat. In the words of 2005 Champions League winner Carragher, “you need someone who can come in and cover for one or two players with quality, start games when he needs to and compete with the others.”
Since arriving in the Premiership, Jordan Ayew has improved in many ways; his goal tally went up, his performances were more consistent and remained committed to the course irrespective of Swansea’s chances of staying up in the league. With Firmino, Salah and Mane set to play at this year’s World Cup and expected to arrive late in the season, the Reds will need a striker like Jordan Ayew to keep Liverpool from falling too far behind rivals in the early rounds next season since the Ghana striker will not be in Russia.
After playing for lower tier sides in England, Jordan Ayew’s quality is set to move him into the top ranks even if it is likely to be in a backup role.