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Liverpool season preview: Coutinho’s magic is vital

Premier League Team of the Year

Premier League Team of the Weekend 29/04

Who would be most valuable in an IPL style auction of Premier League players? Part One: Top 40

Cricket’s Premier club competition, the Indian Premier League used a player auction to assign the available players to each team. Each side has the same budget so the true test of player recruitment is how to prioritise what you spend most of your money on. Do you go for a few stars and some decent others or look to balance it all out?

With this in mind, I thought it would be interesting to imagine a scenario where the Premier League assigned players in an auction to see who would be most valuable. I am working on the basis that each player is then contracted to their club for a significant time period. It isn’t as simple as a list of the Top 40 players in the league however.

When compiling this list I considered what would make for the best investments. This took in to account the player’s quality primarily, added to age, injury history, and position importance. An injury prone 32 year old Left back is not as valuable as a 21 year old striker for example. There is intrinsically less value in older players as you may only have them for a couple of years where you could have a young player for a decade. For this reason, the likes of Lampard, Ferdinand and Terry have missed the cut. I’ve taken all players registered to Premier League clubs.

Starting from the 40th ranked player I will work up to the number one over three parts and explain why each player is ranked where he is.

40 – Ashley Cole Still the best left back in the league but at 32 he would be a short term, albeit high quality, investment.
39 – Andy Carroll It might be a surprise to see Carroll ranked in the top 40 but at just 24 and with plenty of physical gifts he would be a desirable asset in this format.
38 – Steven Gerrard Gerrard just about gets on because he is 33. However, his all around game is still of the highest quality and would give a couple of good years.


37 – Daniel Sturridge Sturridge is a frustrating player but he has a knack of making things happen and getting amongst the goals. Attacking threat is hard to find and he would be sought after.
36 – Ashley Young Young showed at Watford and Villa that he can be relied upon to be a consistent and threatening presence in a wide forward position. He still has potential to unlock at 27.
35 – Cesar Azpilicueta The young right back has seized the right back spot at Chelsea and looks bound for plenty of future improvement. Pace, energy and enthusiasm mark him out as a valuable option.
34 – Oscar Oscar has shown that he can operate anywhere in midfield for Chelsea this season. A young player of immense technical talent, if he can add consistency and goals to his flair he could become world class.
33 – Joe Hart Hart is one of the top goalies in the league and is still only 25. He is one of 4 goalkeepers in the top 40 as keepers are in much shorter supply than outfield players and getting a good one is critical.


32 – David de Gea De Gea has started to mature at United this year and has flashed his elite reflexes and shot stopping. He is ranked marginally above Hart as he is 4 years younger with more potential to be tapped.
31 – Sandro This might look high for Sandro but it’s with good reason. Look at what has happened to Spurs since his injury. They’ve lost the resilience that was key in the early season. He’s still only 24 and improving rapidly as a deep lying playmaker and destroyer.
30 – Phillipe Coutinho You are paying for potential and all around attacking threat with Coutinho who has flown in to action at Liverpool. He possesses fabulous technical skill with plenty of room for improvement.
29 – Yaya Toure If this seems low for Yaya there is good reason. He is closing in on 30 now and for a player who bases his game on his athleticism that is a potentially turning point age. Still, he’s an elite player who would give several years of good service.
28 – Michu Michu offers the tactical flexibility to play as a number 9 or number 10 and has shown himself to be a lethal and devastating finisher. He’s only 27 so can get plenty better.
27 – Shinji Kagawa Kagawa has had a slow start at Old Trafford due to injury but is one of the most creative players in the league. If this list was next year I would bet he would be near the top 10.


26 – Rafael Rafael has improved in leaps and bounds this season with regular first team football. Full back wouldn’t be a high price position by and large but Rafael offers genuine attacking threat, capable of scoring 5 goals or so a year from right back. He’s also only 22.
25 – Hugo Lloris Lloris has started to show the talents that once made him the best keeper prosepct in the world. He’s only 26 so is about to hit the peak years for a goalkeeper. In this format he would be a no brainer investment.
24 – Marouane Fellaini Fellaini is a physical force of nature, capable of dominating any defence. The only reason he isn’t further up is that his best use hasn’t yet been defined.


23 – Fernando Torres I know what you’re thinking. But even despite his struggles he’s still closing in on 20 goals this season and has the potential to be his old self. Maybe. Worth a flyer in this format.
22 – Carlos Tevez In terms of talent Tevez should be higher but this would be a risky investment and that is reflected in his ranking outside the top 20. He can score and make goals and works as hard as anyone.
21 – Pablo Zabaleta Zabaleta is the best right back in the world and in this format his leadership would be a highly valuable commodity. At 28 he is enjoyed the best form of his career and would a true plug and play option in this auction.

You may also like:

Who would be most valuable in an IPL style auction of Premier League players? Part Three: The Top 10

Who would be most valuable in an IPL style auction of Premier League players? Part Two: Top 20

Liverpool Premier League Years Fantasy XI

Liverpool can’t realistically keep Luis Suarez without Champions League football


The question of Luis Suarez’s future is popping up every day in the transfer gossip and there is growing suspicion that he is amiable to moving to a club in the Champions League. The BBC are quoting Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre as saying that he is 100% confident that Suarez will still be at Liverpool next year but it is getting increasingly hard to believe that Liverpool is really where Suarez can maximise his talents.

The same article quotes Suarez talking in Uruguay saying ‘If another team comes around with more prospects of competing in international club competition games, which is willing to have me, they are welcome.’ Not exactly a resounding denial of the rumours.

Clearly, Suarez wants to play in the Champions League, and his form this season shows that he is worthy of competing in the competition. After moving to the club as part of the deadline day binge that also brought Andy Carroll to the club in January 2011, he has now gone two and a half seasons without playing in the world’s elite club competition. If Liverpool keep him this summer, that would stretch out to three and a half years by the end of the 2013/14 season. Is it realistic to expect that a world class striker in his prime will sit patiently by whilst the club drifts around in the Europa League and has never been in the Premier title chase whilst he has been at there? The issue of loylatly is bound to raise it’s head, references to Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher and Liverpool being a ‘massive club’.

The thing is though, on the European scene, they no longer are a big club. They’ve been overtaken by the nouveau riche of Man City & PSG and the resurgent Juventus and Bayern as attractive destinations for players looking to get in to the Champions League. The other problem with the loyalty argument is that Suarez doesn’t owe his stock to being at Liverpool. The club paid £24m for a striker who had already lit up a World Cup and scored 50 goals in a season in Holland. Suarez moved to Liverpool expecting to help them push for league titles and playing in the Champions League. That hasn’t happened. Rather, the club has spent a fortune on gradually ploughing a mid table furrow.

The reason the timing is a bit delicate is that Liverpool have shown some shoots of recovery under Brendan Rodgers this year and Suarez is playing the best football of his English career. The fans and management feel like Rodgers’ team is making progress towards being competitive again. I’m sure Suarez would feel the same but you only need to look at their last match to understand his frustrations.


The 3-1 defeat at Southampton was an abysmal performance, a game in which Suarez himself was kept quiet. So why would that make him unsettled? Because it looks as if the club can’t win games without him being the talisman. If he doesn’t do something magical in every game he plays they struggle for results. He was off kilter in the 0-2 home loss to West Brom and likewise in the away defeat to Zenit that preceded their European exit. If he doesn’t play well they don’t win and invariably lose. No one wants to be a one man team.

It’s a similar situation as was faced by Steven Gerrard in 2005 when he was approached by Chelsea. Having dragged his team almost single handedly to the Champions League title, Gerrard was getting frustrated at Liverpool’s inability to challenge for the Premier League title he craved. Many of the defining moments of that championship run came from Gerrard but his head was turned by an offer to play for new English champions Chelsea. There, he could win trophies and take his game to the next level. He only turned it down because Liverpool were his boyhood club. Professionally speaking it was the wrong decision but it would have been too big of an emotional wrench to leave. Suarez has no such connection.

Although he does seem to genuinely enjoy playing at Anfield, his lack of an emotional affiliation to the club in the manner of Gerrard allows him to make a purely professional decision. He wants to play in the Champions League whilst at his peak and he can’t do that at Liverpool until the season after next at the earliest. Liverpool have to prove to him that they are ready to finish in the top 4 and meet the promises that they made him. They need to show him that they are suitable for his talents and the only way they can do that is by getting in to the Champions League.

You may also like these articles featuring Liverpool:

Analysing the Transfer Gossip – 31st May: Suarez, Chelsea, Barcelona, Arsenal and more

Liverpool sign Toure from Manchester City – a step forward or back for the Reds?

Transfer Grades: Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool, Monaco and more

Premier League Team of the Weekend 13/05 – Liverpool’s Coutinho shines brightest

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