The sale of Luis Suarez that allegedly brought 75 million pounds into the Liverpool war chest plus a substantial amount of extra money from the owners has made it possible for Liverpool to broaden and sharpen the squad. But is it now on a par with Manchester Citys where Arab owners has spend large sums on players for a few years now? Let´s examine.
Tonight one of the most thrilling games of the season is on show. Reigning league champions Man City play hosts to Liverpool FC, last seasons unlucky runners-up. The general view is that Liverpool had a starting eleven in the same class as Man City last season, but a far lesser squad, both in depth and quality.
Has Liverpool´s nine signings (I don´t include the two youngsters from Tottenham but Mario Balotelli) this summer levelled it out? Eight of them is eligible this season, striker Divock Origi join in next year.
Here is an assessment of the strength throughout both teams.
Goalkeepers: In this department Man City has the upper hand. And safer ones. Both Joe Hart and new signing Willy Caballero are at least as good as Liverpool´s Simon Mignolet. And better than our reserve keeper Brad Jones. Hart is still a notch higher than Mignolet in class. The rating of Caballero is of course what I have read about him. I don´t remember seeing him play and perhaps he is not as good as our first choice custodian and as capable as some people claim. But on the whole Man City is better equipped.
Fullbacks: With our new acquisitions Javier Manquillo and Alberto Moreno Reds have taken considerable steps towards being on the same level as Citizens. They´ve got one of the best fullbacks in the league in Pablo Zabaleta but otherwise we match their set-up man for man. That is if Moreno and Manquillo is as classy as expected. Then these two plus Jon Flanagan, José Enrique and Glen Johnson is as able as City´s Bacary Sagna, Aleksandar Kolarov, Micah Richards and Gael Clichy. Still a small advantage for Man City.
Central defenders: Here City boasts Vincent Kompany, by many regarded as the best centreback in the league. But I don´t think he is all that fantastic. Our own Dejan Lovren will soon be his equal, if he isn´t that already, and even surpass him. The rest of the defenders in this cathegory are evenly matched. Eliaquim Mangala cost City 32 million pounds and should be a rock. But so is Martin Skrtel, and he has a lot of Premier League experience which Mangala lacks. Liverpool´s Mamadou Sakho is as good as Matija Nastasic and Martin Demichelis, perhaps better, and Daniel Agger is also at least as competent as these two light blue boys. Right now it´s a close call but soon enough Liverpool will be on the front foot.
Central midfielders: At the moment Manchester City is better off. Yaya Toure and Fernandinho, the best central midfield pairing in the league last season, has got a new accomplished player beside them, Fernando. Steven Gerrard, new boy Emre Can and Joe Allen can not match them.
Attacking midfielders: Both teams has got really skilful players in this part of the team. And the Reds edge out Citizens. Raheem Sterling is better than Jesus Navas, there is not much between Philippe Coutinho and David Silva, Adam Lallana is more effective than Samir Nasri and James Milner is probably more hardworking than Lazar Markovic but not as dangerous. Okay, the last rating is something I don´t know yet but believe in. Furthermore, Jordan Henderson and Jordon Ibe is better than Frank Lampard and Scott Sinclair.
Strikers: A section where City has got more class. With Luis Suarez gone Sergio Agüero is now arguably the best forward in Premier League. His three compatriots Alvaro Negredo, Stevan Jovetic and Edin Dzeko are also of high quality. Liverpool are a bit behind. Daniel Sturridge competes with Agüero as best striker in the league but Mario Balotelli (if he signs), Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini (if he doesn´t leave) is not as good as the City trio. Balotelli is an unknown quantity and could be a smash hit. But he can also be a failing, disrupting figure. Time will tell. At the moment, though, City rule this department.
So all in all City is better in four out of six cathegories, Liverpool heads one and the last one is a tie. The conclusion is that Liverpool are closer than before and not so far behind in squad strength. But we need one or two more transfer windows to close the gap.
So when its´time to buy:
We Go Again.