By Sean Hartnett
Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson doesn’t exactly have a boatload of funds to spend on new signings as the club’s purse-strings are tight with the uncertainly of new owners being in place before the end of the summer transfer window.
The Reds’ boss has had to make due with free transfers and bargain signings thus far since taking over in early July. Even if the want-away midfielder Javier Mascherano is sold potentially in excess of £20m, it is unclear how much of the sale will be given to Hodgson’s transfer kitty.
Even before the Mascherano sale is completed, two former Reds that should be on Hodgson’s radar are Aston Villa left back Stephen Warnock and Man City forward Craig Bellamy. Since leaving Liverpool, both have shown their class and are realistic transfer targets.
After Martin O’Neill walked out at Aston Villa, it has become clear that disagreements over the club’s transfer policy led to his departure. Villa are currently in a state of disarray and would be more willing to allow players to leave if the right offer came in. Warnock would be eager to return to his boyhood club, and a bid around £8m might tempt the club to allow him to leave.
In Rafael Benítez’s first two seasons as Liverpool manager Warnock shined, but he was allowed to leave for Blackburn for a measly sum of £2.5m. Fabio Aurelio had made the starting left back place his own and the versatile Alvaro Arbeloa was brought in that January from Deportivo de La Coruña
Since leaving the Reds, Warnock’s star has risen in English football as he was named to Fabio Capello’s 23-man England World Cup squad (photo). The solid left-back helped the Villans become one of the stingiest defences in the Premier League.
Hodgson has chosen to re-sign Aurelio, but Liverpool need another left back who doesn’t share the similar injury concerns. Warnock would be an ideal signing for the position and Aurelio wouldn’t mind playing a bit-part role.
The ever-vocal Craig Bellamy has made his frustration with Manchester City clear after being left out of the club’s 23-man Europa League squad, and he has admitted that he is unlikely to make their 25-man Premier League cut-off.
Bellamy could be on the move, and Tottenham and Sunderland are the latest Premier League club to show an interest in the 31-year-old Welshman. Fulham manager Mark Hughes, who shares a strong bond with the Wales captain, would also be in the hunt for his services.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon is desperate to bring Bellamy back to his former club on loan, but Man City would be unlikely to let him go on loan while other clubs would be willing to put in decent bids. Wages would also be a stumbling block for the Bhoys, as the club has been reluctant to pay high wages despite bringing Robbie Keane in on loan last January.
Hodgson should jump on the opportunity to land Bellamy for a cut-rate price that could be around £5m or lower. Bellamy flourished at Man City and was one of the Premier League’s brightest stars during the first half of last season.
During his time at Liverpool he was inconsistent, but many top-class attacking players outside of Fernando Torres found it difficult to settle at the club under Benítez.
If Liverpool were able to re-acquire the Welshman, he could team with Joe Cole and get the Reds playing entertaining football once again. The duo would terrorize opposing defenses, and they are some of the Premier League’s most skillful and tricky players.
Bellamy has shown at City that he’s a handful for defenders and has a knack for providing excellent service from out wide. It would be a wise signing for Hodgson to attempt, and he shouldn’t allow such a quality player to join a Premier League rival such as Tottenham.
Liverpool need more players who can provide genuine width and trickery. Bellamy would be reignited by a return to the club he supported as a boy and often speaks highly about Liverpool when interviewed.
Hodgson tends to be the sort of manager who could handle his unique personality and could fill him with the confidence needed to play the brilliant football he has shown in brief glimpses during his career.
If the Liverpool boss were able to complete the two signings, the Reds would surely improve on last season’s nightmare campaign and have all pieces in place for a serious title bid.