Football Manager is an addictive game.
We confess that we have spent countless of hours at it, taking our favorite clubs on a journey of world dominance or simply staying away from relegation. Signing players is always one of the most intriguing aspects of the game, and as we are midway into the January transfer window, why not indulge in a little fantasy football manager?
Here is the first article of the Liverpool Boleh's Football Manager series, where we attempted to craft a shopping list of players we would attempt to sign for Liverpool from all the other Premier League teams – regardless of how realistic it might be.
We can all dream, right?
The likes of Aubameyang and Pepe immediately springs to mind, but do we really need a forward (albeit, world-class) in his 30s or a largely unproven winger in the league when we boast the likes of Salah, Mane and Firmino?
Kieran Tierney looks like a really exciting prospect, with his crossing abilities perfectly suited for Jurgen Klopp’s system. The former Celtic man has yet to hit the ground running, but at 22, he definitely has time on his side. He could be the perfect deputy for our beloved Andy Robertson, which also means James Milner can focus on his midfield role.
David Brooks was one of Bournemouth’s brightest sparks in the 18/19 season, and it is no coincidence that his absence has resulted in a dismal campaign for the Cherries thus far.
Highly rated by Ryan Giggs and Eddie Howe, Brooks can fit well into the system with his high energy and creativity. Can the Welshman perhaps provide the creativity we occasionally miss since the departure of Philippe Coutinho?
This one is perhaps straightforward, considering there aren’t too many options. Jack Grealish has always shown glimpse of his enormous potential in his earlier days, and he is starting to develop into an excellent player.
The number 10 stands out in an average Villa team, pulling the strings and chipping in with some breath-taking goals. Having developed his game in the Championship, he enjoys the dirty bit too, never afraid to get stuck in and put in a shift, making him one of the most sought-after players in the Premier League.
Brighton and Hove Albion
Graham Potter is doing an excellent job,having the Seagulls play an attractive brand of football with a squad that isn’t exactly brimming with superstars. Aaron Connolly’s performances this season have caught the eyes of other teams, with the youngster’s energy, work-rate and technical ability standing out – just ask Tottenham.
The Irishman will be a perfect option for Liverpool as he provides a different attacking dimension with his runs in behind defenders, something Roberto Firmino for all his excellence is not the best at, if we were to be really critical.
Dwight McNeil broke into the team in the 18/19 season and has carried on his fine form since, proving to be a mainstay in Sean Dyche’s team. One of the most talked about youngster in England, McNeil has made quite a name for himself with his crossing ability that will give Robertson a run for his money.
The English youngster plays on the left side and while not an ideal replacement for Sadio Mane, we can definitely see him as a back-up for Robertson in a busy left back role where he is given the freedom to bomb forward.
Another English youngster makes the shopping list, as we have selected Reece James over the likes of more household names like N’golo Kante and Mason Mount. James is slowly making the right-back position his after several solid performances this season, with Cesar Azpilicueta shifting to the opposite flank.
Liverpool has now the brilliant Trent Alexander Arnold, but with Nathaniel Clyne the only natural right-back as cover, we would love to add this young English talent to the team.
The Ivorian winger has been constantly linked to a series of clubs, and it is surprising to see Klopp not in the queue. Wilfried Zaha has been a constant menace in the Premier League, with his trickery and pace making him one of the league’s most terrorizing customers.
Despite the strength up top, Liverpool are pretty thin when it comes to wingers that can give Mane and Salah a run for their money. Shaqiri, Origi and Chamberlain have proven to be able replacements, but a player with Zaha’s calibre will definitely add another layer of quality to the squad.
The Barcelona trio of Yery Mina, Luca Digne and Andre Gomes at Everton all caught our eyes (ok, maybe not so much Mina), but it is Gomes who stands out. The Portuguese midfield is a classy player, gliding around the pitch and always seems composed. He is a big presence too, standing at 1.88m – a department perhaps our midfield is lacking.
During the 18/19 season, there was always the lingering criticism that the likes of Wijnaldum, Milner, Henderson are too similar when results don’t go our way. While it still remains to be seen if he can fully recover from the horrific injury, Gomes will definitely provide the Liverpool midfield a different dimension.
James Maddison is undoubtedly the Foxes’ most important player, and we are convinced the Englishman will fit seamlessly into Klopp’s system. Brendan Rodgers employs a similar 4-4-3 formation; with a defensive number 6, two pacey wingers and flying fullbacks.
The Foxes' number 10 has excellent technical abilities, is strong on either foot and possesses a creativity that is not a common trait in the English national team. He will be able to comfortably play in front of Fabinho or Henderson in a more advanced role, providing Klopp’s side a creative spark.
Speaking of creative midfielders, are there any more impressive than Kevin de Bruyne? The Belgian has racked up 14 assists this season, the most in the league, and the manner of some of his assists is outright filthy. Scoring seven goals while at it seems pretty impressive too.
The forward line of City would not swap the Belgian for anything in the world, having scored countless of tap-ins thanks to this man. Klopp's admiration for de Bruyne is no secret, and as fans the Belgain is one of those players we can only hold our hands up and admire.
Would any of the first eleven at Manchester United really improve the Liverpool squad? We were not entirely convinced, partly due to a strong sense of bias, but even the most ardent Manchester United fan will have to admit Liverpool's squad is of a way higher quality.
Marcus Rashford will be the best bet, with the English forward enjoying his best season to date. He would provide a great option for Klopp, especially with his ability to play on the left and in a more central position. But with Origi currently performing a similar role off the bench, just how much of an upgrade will Rashford be?
Since we are virtually playing Football Manager at the moment, our Magpies pick will surely have to be Allan Saint-Maximin. The young Frenchman is almost overpowered in virtual games, with his pace and strength the reasons for smashed controllers.
Saint-Maximin is doing a decent in real life too, proving to be one of the Magpies’ best signing before his hamstring injury. He will provide Liverpool an excellent alternative off the bench, causing opponents problems with his athleticism and trickery, especially in the last 20 minutes when games are stretched.
Todd Cantwell is one of the brightest sparks for Norwich this season. The attacking midfielder is a confident young man, playing with a swagger that will surely see him play for a bigger club in the near future. Cantwell was hugely impressive in his Premier League debut against Liverpool, carrying on his fine form midway into the season.
Another young talented Englishman on the list, his creativity combined with the arrogance should see him grow into one of the finest Premier League player.
Take a closer look at Sheffield United’s squad and you will realize the wonders that Chris Wilder is performing. Not even the more hardcore Premier League fans will be able to name the full starting XI, showing how remarkable the Blades have performed, sitting 6th in the league.
John Fleck has been one of the standout performers at Bramall Lane (4 goals and 2 assists), and have been for a while now; Fleck played an instrumental role during the Blades rise from the EFL League One all the way to the Premier League.
The bustling midfielder’s playing style is perhaps similar to the likes of Wijnaldum and Henderson, being able to playing in a deep-lying role as well as a more advanced one, and we can see him fitting right into Klopp’s team.
Imagine another dead-ball specialist in the Liverpool team. James Ward-Prowse joining the likes of Alexander-Arnold and Robertson will surely transform Liverpool into the most dangerous team at set-pieces.
Technically gifted and a product of the Southampton Academy, it is fair to say that Ward-Prowse has yet to hit the heights of what his initial potential had promised, but we wonder if he is perhaps one of those late bloomers? Or perhaps just require better players around him to shine?
However with Danny Ings' brilliant season so far, can we be a little greedy here and wish for both?
Harry Kane might be Spurs’ best and most important player, but we are leaning to Son Heung-Min for this one. The South Korean is one of the league’s best players, performing at the highest level since his arrival from the Bundesliga. He is unbelievably two-footed, which makes him a real handful for defenders.
Son will undoubtedly add another dimension to the current attack, his versatility allowing him to play in a more advanced midfield role or anywhere in the front three. A real character off the pitch too, we can definitely see him sharing some quality banters with Milner and Robertson.
Ismaila Sarr and Gerard Deulofeu have both been central to the Hornets’ revival this season, with the former making it into this list. The 21 year old is slowly finding his feet in the Premier League since his debut, with plenty of time on his side.
A highly skilful and pacey winger, the Senegalese is one of those blessed with the flair and dynamism that makes him a joy to watch.
It is obvious that fellow countrymen Mane and Sarr share a special relationship, and we would think that a mentor and mentee relationship at Anfield could bring out the best of both the Senegalese speedsters.
West Ham United
Felipe Anderson is not quite Dimitri Payet, but on his day, the Brazilian winger is surely one of the league’s best players. Anderson’s pace is somewhat underrated, as his trickery and technique fits conveniently into his Brazilian profile.
He will prove to be a great addition if he can replicate his fine form in his debut season; settling in nicely with the Brazilian contingent of Firmino, Alisson and Fabinho, providing Klopp with another quality option at the top.
Rounding up our shopping list with yet another young English talent, we shift our attention to Morgan Gibbs-White. The 19 year old midfielder has shown glimpse of his talent in his debut Premier League season, capturing the attention of the bigger clubs.
Jurgen Klopp was reported to be interested in the teenage sensation in 2018, but Gibbs-White had chosen to remain in Molineux. That decision might prove to be wise as he is now getting more minutes after recovering from an injury, hopefully fulfilling the potential that he had teased the league with.