Liverpool have been linked with a host of strikers over recent weeks, since the departure of Luis Suarez almost a month ago.
Well now it is time for Liverpool to step up their pursuit of the 31 goal man’s “replacement”. Many names have been linked, including Edinson Cavani and Radamel Falcao, but these are the sort of players that a regular Champions League club would be able to get, not us.
But that does not mean that Liverpool cannot pursue the quality that is out there.
There are several options out there for Liverpool and it is my personal view that Brendan Rodgers should be looking for a creative ‘forward’ that will compliment Sturridge and whoever else plays up top – rather than an out-and-out striker.
A player with the ability to dribble past defenders and provide that killer ball in behind is essential for any side. Even in pre-season Liverpool have been heavily reliant on the likes of Phillipe Coutinho to provide the creativity in and around the box, but last year he only provided seven assists.
Seven assists is a decent tally from midfield, but the advantage of having a creative centre forward is something that would really benefit Liverpool.
Look at Thomas Muller at Bayern Munich for example. In nine games up front, he scored seven goals and created four.
Liverpool can benefit from something very similar, because of the pace our team possesses with Sterling, Markovic and Sturridge.
So I will suggest a few targets that can play as a part of the three in a 4-2-3-1 formation, but are also comfortable as a second striker.
Alessio Cerci – Torino
The Italian played in the Torino side that finished 8th in Serie A last year, but individually Cerci enjoyed a superb campaign.
In 37 appearances, he fired 13 goals and provided 10 assists, in what was a superb partnership with Ciro Immobile, now at Dortmund.
Although usually known for playing on the right, Cerci is more than capable of playing through the middle. In fact Cerci played 31 games through the middle last season, enabling him to link up with Immobile.
Cerci’s strengths are cutting onto his left foot and shooting from range- in fact the Italian scored a number of spectatular long range goals last season.
But what has drawn me to Cerci is his dribbling abilities, his close control is quite extraordinary.
One of his goals he scored last season saw him burst past the last defender, take it around the keeper with his right foot and finish with his left.
All of this in just a few quick moves. It reminded me of Daniel Sturridge’s strike against Aston Villa at Villa Park, but it was far better.
Another strong attribute that Cerci possesses is his set piece ability which could end up being key with Steven Gerrard most likely not being available for every single game next season.
Also having a left footer available to take a set pieces means that Liverpool are going to be a big threat no matter where the set piece is situated.
Of course every player has his weaknesses, but Cerci’s are ones that you would expect Brendan Rodgers to be able to solve quite easily.
Many have criticised the work rate of Cerci, but I am sure you all remember Daniel Sturridge at Chelsea – Mr Lazy.
Now he is constantly tracking back and contributing to every phase of play.
Cerci due to his high position in the pitch possesses quite a low pass completion rate of 73%, but he did average 1.6 key passes per game last season, which is an impressive tally.
Only Jordan Henderson, Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez had a higher rate for Liverpool last season and Raheem Sterling averaged the same amount.
As a comparison, Cerci beats the likes of Bale and Iniesta last season, which is quite a feat considering those two are considered as one of the best in the world at creating opportunities.
Cerci’s price tag is most likely to be in the region of £16million-£20million, with Torino having already rejected a £14million bid from Atletico Madrid.
Roberto Firmino & Kevin Volland – Hoffenheim
These two for me would have to be a double swoop, because of the qualities the two of them together would bring to the team. Both players just missed out on places in the squad for the World Cup, and feel that now they have something to prove.
These two were fantastic last season and scored 16 (Firmino) and 11 (Volland) goals in the Bundesliga, often linking up to create chances for eachother.
I am sure most of you are wondering why I think Firmino is a creative striker, well last season he was occassionally played up front instead of Modeste and he performed very well.
Because we must remember we are not looking for a Sturridge replacement, we need to know we have cover in that position and Firmino does provide that.
Another strong attribute of Firmino’s is his work rate and he was often tracking back and then breaking forward using quick feet to get at the opposition.
But the most impressive part of Firminos game is definitely his finishing, to score 16 goals playing mostly behind the centre forward shows he is exactly the type of player that fits the Liverpool profile.
He is quick, works hard, skillful and he breaks beyond the striker, what else do you want? However if Liverpool were to bring them both in then it would probably mean that Suso would be loaned out again as well as Fabio Borini finally sealing that move to Sunderland.
Volland however is a different type of player, mainly a right winger who is also capable of playing through the middle, with excellent pace and has a good eye for a pass.
Touted as one of the future stars for Germany, we all know that any player capped by Germany at the age of 22 is definitely worth looking at.
And lets face it, missing out on a World Cup winning squad is hardly a sign you are a terrible player.
The fact he was so close to being in that squad tells us the extent of his ability.
Volland was not as creative as Firmino, and only created four goals last season compared to Firminos 11.
He averaged 1.2 key passes a game which is average, but the system in which Liverpool play should automatically bring that figure up because of the midfield runners.
However the fact that Firmino averaged 2.1 key passes is extraordinary, and having him as the new focal point is a very good option.
Volland has a reported release clause of £12million, and I think a double swoop of £30million should be enough to get the duo over to Anfield.
If you are looking for an out and out goal scorer, then there are not many out there at the moment that will prove to be value for money.
It is always good to have plenty of pace and creativity in the final third, and the likes of Firmino and Voller could add that to Liverpool from either the starting line up or the bench.
Alexandre Lacazette – Lyon
Lacazette is the player that many supporters turned to when the Loic Remy deal fell through, as he is considered a very similar player to the Frenchman.
Lacazette has bags of pace at his disposal and can play anywhere across the front line which of course suits the playing style of Brendan Rodgers.
Scoring 15 goals in last years Ligue 1 is a very good return in what was truly a break through season for the 23 year old.
The strongest attribute that Lacazette has is his shooting, whether it is from range or in and around the box you would always expect to see him hit the target.
But for me I think Raheem Sterling is in the position that he is in now. Sterling is a very similar player to Lacazette except for the fact he is four years his junior.
Sterling scored nine goals in 32 games last season, including nine substitute appearances where as Lacazette scored 15 goals in 36 games with only two substitute appearances.
Giving Sterling the time could see him turn into a far better striker than Lacazette, although he represents a decent option should Rodgers opt to sign more pace this summer having seen the Remy deal collapse.
Rather than focus solely on signing an out-and-out goalscorer, why not look for some creativity as well as goals which would give us a far more balanced front line?
Because after all, the best part about Suarez was he could literally do it all. Also you must expect Sturridge and Sterling to improve on their tallies as well as our defense being much less leaky with the arrivals or Lovren, Manquillo and surely Alberto Moreno.
Liverpool will never lack goals because of the style of play that is in place at the club, therefore adding more creativity will create opportunities no matter who will be tucking them in.
Who would you like to see us sign as a replacement for Suarez? A proven striker, or some more creative forwards? Let us know your thoughts below.