Tag Archives: Martin Montoya

5 Transfer Targets Liverpool Must Land to Keep Them in Top Four Contention

Twenty days into the January transfer window, and no new signing has been strongly rumored to be close to a switch to Liverpool, much less seen at Anfield.

Given the momentum that the Reds have regained following the tough Christmas period, Liverpool fans would be forgiven for waiting anxiously for new signings to strengthen Brendan Rodgers’ squad to face the business end to the Premier League season.

Not that there haven’t been any rumors of player transfers, though: Almost no day passes without a new name surfacing, which has prompted even more discussion and debate about which players Liverpool should really be looking at.

After club owner John W. Henry flew into Merseyside and witnessed a frustrating 2-2 home draw with Aston Villa on Saturday, perhaps the need for further reinforcements has become more pressing than ever, if they are to achieve their ambitions of returning to the Champions League.

Here are five transfer targets that Liverpool must look to land this January to keep them in top-four contention for the rest of the season. Let us know your picks and views in the comments below.

 

Mohamed Salah

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Not necessarily the most urgent need on the pitch by any stretch of the imagination, but FC Basel’s Mohamed Salah represents a winger who can break open defences with his pace and contribute goals from the midfield area.

After incessant rumors linking Salah with a switch to Anfield almost all winter, Chris Bascombe of the Telegraph reported yesterday that Liverpool may finally be ready to launch a formal bid for the Egyptian winger.

With Daniel Sturridge returning to the side following an injury layoff, a current forward line featuring Luis Suarez, Sturridge and Raheem Sterling has goals, pace and dribbling in abundance, but Philippe Coutinho, who arrived last January, hasn’t found his top form for the Reds this season.

If Salah could be another source of match-winners to Anfield, he could turn out to be an important signing for Liverpool this January.

 

Antonio Candreva

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A recent new name linked with a move to Anfield is Lazio’s Antonio Candreva, who, according to Charles Perrin of the Express, is reportedly in the middle of a £7 million co-ownership tug-of-war between Lazio and Udinese.

That Candreva is linked with a move to Liverpool is somewhat surprising: The Premier League hasn’t enjoyed a good track record with Italian midfielders, and the Reds have only recently rid themselves of a big-money transfer failure in Alberto Aquilani.

But Candreva might bring something that Aquilani was never known for: pace, stamina and work rate, on top of some much-needed composure and passing ability in the midfield.

Equally comfortable in the center of midfield and on the wing, Candreva would bring an assured presence to Rodgers’ midfield amid the recent experimentations of Steven Gerrard in a holding role and the recent injury to Lucas, sustained against Aston Villa on Saturday.

 

Martin Montoya

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Besides the midfield, another priority for Liverpool this January has to be in defence.

The centre-back situation is currently embarrassingly chaotic as Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure just can’t seem to stop leaking goals, but with Mamadou Sakho and Daniel Agger to return, the more pressing need lies in the full-back area.

Glen Johnson has exhibited a disappointing and alarming decline in form this season, while Aly Cissokho’s constantly underwhelming performances are not helped by Jose Enrique’s continued absence.

The solution? A soon-to-be out-of-contract Martin Montoya of Barcelona, who has been strongly linked with the Reds. According to Liam Prenderville of the Mirror though, Montoya seems content to stay at Camp Nou and wait for a new deal.

Ian Ayre and Co. must act fast to secure a player who would be an excellent versatile defender to join the Liverpool ranks.

 

Fernando Reges

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Given Lucas’ injury on Saturday—he left Anfield on crutches, according to the Express—and a lack of true defensive options in the Reds midfield, it’s the defensive midfield area that they truly need to strengthen.

A name that’s been thrown around is Fernando Reges of FC Porto, who, according to Ben Jefferson of the Express, has piqued the interest of Brendan Rodgers and his management team.

Considering that he will be out of contract in the summer and that his rumored extension agreement may just be a transfer tactic, Reges would be far too good a signing to pass up on.

He would bring pace, power, stamina, excellent tackling and short passing skills to the Liverpool midfield that has been short of a strong defensive presence this season, and would be an instant upgrade in the starting XI.

 

Yann M’Vila

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But if the Reds do miss out on Fernando Reges, all would be forgiven if the midfielder signed instead would be Yann M’Vila of Rubin Kazan.

As we discussed in our scout report on M’Vila last week, he would bring a complete package of strength, stamina, power and pace, allied with composure and ball-playing technique.

Given his history of off-field controversies, he does bring with him some baggage, but if he performs to his potential, M’Vila could anchor the Reds midfield for years to come and establish himself as one of the premier midfielders in all of Europe.

The latest rumor from the Mirror is that Brendan Rodgers is now considering a loan move for M’Vila first, before signing him on a permanent deal in the summer.

Whichever path both player and potential manager choose to go down, if Liverpool were to sign just one player to instantly make a splash this January, it would have to be Yann M’Vila.

 

This article first appeared on Bleacher Report, where I contribute regularly on Liverpool and the Premier League.

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Premier League Transfers: A Dream January Transfer Window Scenario for Liverpool

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The January transfer window is upon us again and, just like any other Premier League club, Liverpool will be considering all possibilities and potential targets to strengthen their squad and sustain their top-four challenge.

Unlike most clubs in the English top flight, however, Liverpool will be going into the market this January buoyed by their perfect transfer record 12 months ago.

Brendan Rodgers acted decisively last winter, bringing in two quality players in Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho for £12 million and £8.5 million respectively.

Both have been unqualified successes at Anfield thus far and have established themselves both as integral parts of Brendan Rodgers’ starting XI when fit and as two of the Premier League’s most exciting attacking talents outright.

With last January’s transfers being few in numbers but so fruitful in terms of instant impact, Liverpool will be hoping for the same this year around. A strong start to the 2013/14 campaign has seen them finish week 20 in the top four and Rodgers’ squad boasts young and exciting talent in abundance.

So, with a few quality additions this month, Rodgers would be able to add to his starting XI and push for a strong second half of the season.

Here is how an ideal but realistic January transfer window would turn out for Liverpool. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Defence: Martin Montoya

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After a productive summer that saw three additions to central defence in Kolo Toure, Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori, Liverpool are now in need of further strengthening in their full-back department.

With Glen Johnson’s poor form and injuries to Jose Enrique and Jon Flanagan, Brendan Rodgers is now left with a severe shortage on the flanks at the back, and this is where our first ideal reinforcement comes in.

Martin Montoya, currently on Barcelona’s books, would be an excellent addition to the first team, not least because of his versatility, which makes him equally comfortable on both flanks.

Earlier in the season, when Liverpool were linked strongly with Montoya—who, according to the Mirror, has pulled out of contract talks with Barcelona and whose current contract expires in the summer—we wrote a scouting report on the full-back.

Besides versatility, Montoya would bring technique and composure to the back four, and he is as comfortable in his passing as he is going forward and supporting the attack.

If Montoya’s contract situation isn’t resolved, Liverpool could well take advantage with a bid in January. He would be too good a prospect to miss out on—and one who would instantly provide quality competition and improve the first team.

 

Midfield: Fernando Reges

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While the perfect transfer window might consist of “marquee” signings in the eyes of Reds’ fans, we instead opt for a cost-efficient, budget-friendly but productive January that sees quality added to the first team without having to shell out the big bucks.

In our midfield transfer wishlist for Liverpool’s January window, compiled back in November, we identified Olympique Lyonnais’ Maxime Gonalons as the “essential” addition for the Reds in the middle of the park.

However, according to reports in the French media (via Football-Italia.net), Serie A club Napoli seem closest to Gonalons for €12 million, which would rule him out as a viable option for Brendan Rodgers.

With that in mind, our midfielder of choice is FC Porto’s Fernando Reges who, like Martin Montoya, will be out of contract this summer, according to Transfermarkt; as such, he may command a lower transfer fee than he otherwise would.

While Liverpool’s current midfield set-up of Lucas, Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson have impressed in recent weeks against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City with their relentless pressing and quick passing, they have been found out on occasion against powerful midfield opposition in Southampton and Arsenal.

What the Reds’ midfield needs is a strong ball-winner who is capable of dominating the midfield, passing the ball with purpose and positioning himself in the right areas to shut out gaps that opponents can take advantage of. From this Squawka analysis, it seems that Reges would be the right man for the job.

Which, all in all, makes Fernando Reges an excellent, cut-price option who would go straight into the first team.

 

Attack: Xherdan Shaqiri

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In attack, keeping in mind our prerogative to remain realistic, we opt for BayernMunich’s Xherdan Shaqiri, whether on loan or on a permanent basis.

The Swiss winger was linked with a move to Anfield back in the summer, according to the Daily Star, and with his inability to force himself into Pep Guardiola’s regular starting XI, Shaqiri could be available for at least a short-term switch this time around.

Our recent list of potential loan targets for the Reds also includes Shaqiri as a player who would instantly improve the squad; his mesmerising wing play, allied with a strong physical build and an eye for goal, would be a great option to rotate with PhilippeCoutinho and the in-form Raheem Sterling.

While Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah is a name strongly linked with Liverpool and may also mean the exit of Sterling on loan, according to the Mirror, Shaqiri would be a better, more all-rounded option with more experience at the highest level.

A Liverpool forward line of Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge, Coutinho, Sterling andShaqiri would be one of the most exciting young attacks in all of Europe and would certainly provide the ammunition needed to fire Liverpool back to the Champions League.

 

Conclusion

After a not-so-busy but superbly productive transfer window last January, Liverpool could do the same a year on with three quality, non-expensive signings, one in each area on the field.

There’s no need to dream of big-name marquee transfers at Anfield yet; Martin Montoya, Fernando Reges and XherdanShaqiri would be enough to provide a more-than-solid starting XI for the rest of the season.

Let the real action take place in the summer.

 

This article first appeared on Bleacher Report, where I contribute regularly on Liverpool and the Premier League.

Scouting Report on Reported Liverpool Transfer Target Martin Montoya

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The latest rumor doing the rounds at Anfield links Barcelona full-back Martin Montoya with a move to Liverpool in January, and according to the Guardian, the Reds’ Managing Director Ian Ayre traveled to Catalonia to open transfer talks.

In light of the recent injury blow to joint top scorer Daniel Sturridge—who, as reported by BBC Sport, is set to miss the next two months with an ankle injury—and the projected absence till February of left-back Jose Enrique due to a knee problem (c/o BBC Sport), both of which leave the squad short of first-team options, the recent Montoya links will be positive news for Liverpool fans.

Despite a surfeit of options in the center of defence following the Reds’ deadline-day swoop for Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori, they remain short on the flanks, given Enrique’s injury, on-loan Aly Cissokho’s disappointing form, and Martin Kelly’s continued absence.

Young Jon Flanagan, who impressed in his first few outings in the first team under Kenny Dalglish but suffered a loss in confidence and form since, has defied his critics in recent weeks with encouraging performances filling in on the left, but he remains a back-up option—and a specialist right-back.

Which brings us—and Liverpool, allegedly—to Martin Montoya. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons to his potential signing, assess his potential role at Anfield, and evaluate whether he’d be a good pick-up for Brendan Rodgers.

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Pros

The first pro is arguably the most obvious: Martin Montoya is a La Masia youth product and has grown up in the Barcelona way since the age of eight, before graduating to the first team in the 2011/12 La Liga season.

Considering the passing-dominant style of football that Brendan Rodgers wants to implement at Anfield, Montoya, with his comfort on the ball and encouraging passing statistics—this article from Squawka shows his pass success rate in the 2012/13 season to be 91 percent—would seem to be an instant cultural fit into the philosophies currently being put in place at Liverpool.

A just reward for his perseverance in the Barcelona setup, Montoya was awarded an extended run-out in the Blaugrana first team in the injury absence of regular right-back Dani Alves last season, and took his opportunity with both hands, making Alves bide his time on the sidelines despite the latter returning to fitness.

In his time with the first team, Montoya showed a tremendous work rate, as well as consummate ease transferring play from defence to attack, while his defensive work was uncompromised by his willingness to go forward and take on opponents. The same Squawka article quoted above provides the statistical underpinnings of Montoya’s solidness as a full-back.

In his seven appearances this season, Montoya has, according to WhoScored.com, averaged 2.9 aerial duels won per game, more than any Liverpool defender in this campaign, while his 2.9 tackles per game is bettered only by Glen Johnson (Jon Flanagan’s five tackles per game is averaged over the course of three appearances).

Then there’s his impressive versatility, which has seen him play on both flanks at Camp Nou with ease. His current status as first-choice back-up to Dani Alves suggests that he is most comfortable on the right, but he has also played on the left on three occasions this season.

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Cons

Such is Montoya’s completeness as a full-back that he hasn’t shown any obvious weaknesses during his time at Barcelona, besides the lack of a sustained run in the first team due to the importance and outstanding form of Dani Alves.

However, he has been dribbled past by an opponent an average of 1.3 times per game this season, higher than any Liverpool full-back, suggesting that work may be needed on both the mental and physical aspects of his defending.

His 0.3 key passes per game is lower than Johnson, Cissokho and Enrique (with Flanagan once again excepted), though his tendency to dribble may offset that as different facets of attacking and creative contributions.

Potential Role at Liverpool

Work rate, stamina, unsung squad player without a sustained run at the top level—on paper, Martin Montoya sounds a lot like Alvaro Arbeloa, who was signed by Rafa Benitez in January 2007 and went on to become a key part in his impressive Liverpool team.

Indeed, with the stats showing Montoya to be a reliable and all-rounded full-back capable of playing on either flank and of the odd surge forward, the 22-year-old Spaniard may prove to be an equally inspired capture in just a few months, if Ayre manages to secure a deal to capitalize on Montoya’s contract situation.

And at Anfield, Montoya would likely arrive as instant competition for Flanagan on the left flank in the short term. As impressive as Flanagan has been with his defensive work rate, he has not offered much of note going forward.

Enrique’s bursts into the final third, as an outlet for the likes of Philippe Coutinho, have been missed, and Montoya might just provide a bit more incisiveness and attacking threat with his dribbling and forward runs.

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What about in the medium to long term? Well, it’s becoming a well-known fact that Glen Johnson is about to enter the last 18 months of his contract, where in a year’s time he will be allowed to negotiate pre-contract deals with foreign sides—and even leave Anfield on a free transfer in the summer of 2015.

If he were any other key first-team player, Liverpool would have begun negotiations on a contract extension with Johnson already. But, as dissected by James Pearce in the Liverpool Echo, Johnson’s current £110,000 p/w deal at Anfield means that the 29-year-old will almost certainly have to consider a pay cut if he is to stay at Liverpool.

Which may explain why Managing Director Ian Ayre is reportedly so keen on securing Montoya’s signature this January, instead of leaving it till the summer to bring him to Anfield on a Bosman free transfer. If Montoya impresses in the next six months, Liverpool may well have secured their next long-term right-back on the cheap.

Conclusion

All of this leads to our conclusion that Martin Montoya should be a key priority for the Reds this January transfer window.

Whether it’s for the short term—to fill in for Jose Enrique and challenge Jon Flanagan—or for the long term—as a potential replacement for Glen Johnson if a contract extension doesn’t progress as smoothly—Montoya has the ability to establish himself in the Liverpool first team.

Compared to Johnson, a regular top performer for four seasons and an integral part of this attack-heavy Liverpool team, Montoya still has some development to do before he will mature and evolve into a top-class complete full-back, but his grounding at La Masia will have provided a stellar platform for his continued growth.

At a potentially discounted price due to his contract situation, Montoya would be too good an opportunity to pass up—and a potential regret for Brendan Rodgers and co. if he ends up at a Premier League rival on a free come next summer.

This article first appeared on Bleacher Report, where I contribute regularly on Liverpool and the Premier League.