Premier League: Sussing out the succession plan at lively Liverpool

Though Liverpool decided against ditching Brendan Rodgers – who is [1.03] to start the season as manager – everything else has changed. There has been a coaching staff makeover and six on-field additions. Who either will have to make way for the newbies or already has? Let’s investigate…

Adam Bogdan for Brad Jones

This was the simplest of Liverpool’s dealings and a situation in which they have marginally upgraded at no expense.

Jones’ contract was up and there was no incentive to keep him after five years at the club in which he didn’t really show much. Bogdan’s Bolton terms expired and, though he isn’t in the Victor Valdes and Michel Vorm class of goalkeeping understudies, he is at least better and younger than Jones.

Joe Gomez for Sebastian Coates or Javier Manquillo

It isn’t immediately clear whether Liverpool have signed Charlton youngster Gomez as a centre back or right back.

If it is the former, Kolo Toure extended his contract, Martin Skrtel is following and Mamadou Sakho plans to stay so, unless Dejan Lovren exits, he is likely to get Sebastian Coates’ pre-Sunderland-move role of young hopeful either loaned out or given minutes in the Capital One Cup and Europa League.

There may be more opportunities as Nathaniel Clyne’s deputy at right back given Glen Johnson’s release and speculation that the Reds will seek to cancel Manquillo’s loan arrangement a year early.

Nathaniel Clyne for Glen Johnson

The lack of send-off for Johnson after six solid years was a bit off, but they have certainly replaced him well with a defender six years younger who has taken his spot in the England squad. The only concern is not having a proven back-up if the Southampton-to-Liverpool curse strikes Clyne.

James Milner for Steven Gerrard

Milner and Gerrard clearly aren’t like-for-like, yet the versatile former Manchester City employee is a successor in stature – a household name with heaps of big-match mileage who is both an international and continental competition regular.

It is Gerrard’s experience that needs replacing as much as his playing attributes as he hasn’t really had a defined position recently, first being reinvented as a deep-lying midfielder before being rotated more often and venturing further forward, and this presumably made Milner an ideal fit.

Roberto Firmino for Raheem Sterling

The volume of links to Christian Benteke suggest that Firmino hasn’t been recruited as yet another Liverpool striker, but instead as either a winger or number ten.

It is therefore natural to conclude that he might act as a potential replacement for Raheem Sterling, given that the England international has been backed as low as [1.14] to ignore the cavalcade of Liverpool legends telling him that his career will die the second that he flees Merseyside and do one.

Danny Ings for Fabio Borini

Having afforded the trio a miserable 20 Premier League starts between them, it is reasonable to suspect that Liverpool would be delighted to shift Mario Balotelli (10), Rickie Lambert (7) and Fabio Borini (3) this summer.

However, it is the least utilised of those “unprolificos” who is attracting the greatest buzz at the moment, with Lazio, West Ham, Sunderland and Bologna among the alleged suitors. Rodgers had a relationship with Borini before bringing him to Anfield, but eight league starts in three years makes it fairly obvious that his admiration has cooled.