By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent
SUAREZ AND STURRIDGE TO SHARE CENTRE-FORWARD ROLE
Liverpool’s plans to right the wrongs of their late August transfer business are increasingly advanced.
Brendan Rodgers’ priority is to increase his attacking options and the best part of £20 million has been earmarked for Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge and Blackpool’s Thomas Ince.
Rodgers remains keen on Arsenal contract rebel Theo Walcott although Liverpool face strong competition for the England international from the likes of Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs should he fail to agree new terms at Emirates Stadium.
Pepe Reina and Stewart Downing are the two senior players most likely to be offloaded to help fund the new arrivals, who could also include England goalkeeper Jack Butland.
Goal.com understands that Liverpool’s swoop for Sturridge has progressed this week as the Merseysiders close in on an agreement with Chelsea.
It is believed that Rodgers’ plan is to use the versatile attacker in a fluid attacking system headed by Anfield talisman Luis Suarez.
“Sturridge wants to go down the middle rather than out wide but he will not be permanently handed the No.9 position that he craves,” a Liverpool source told Goal.com. “Brendan wants fluid strikers who can play in a variety of positions. You will not see Suarez or Sturridge playing up front all the time.
“It will be a case of keeping the defenders guessing by the players interchanging positions, from game to game and often within the matches themselves. That’s why Andy Carroll was loaned out, because he can only play one role. Brendan likes forwards who can play wide or through the middle.”
LIVERPOOL WANT BUTLAND TO BE THEIR JOE HART
Liverpool are frontrunners in the chase to sign Jack Butland in January as they eye a replacement for Arsenal target Pepe Reina.
Sources have told Goal.com that the Merseyside club believe Butland “can be their Joe Hart”.
This is a reference to how Manchester City snapped up the England No.1 from lower league Shrewsbury Town as a 19-year-old – the same age as Butland is now – and nurtured him into one of the finest goalkeepers in Europe.
Liverpool are wary of overpaying for potential, and will not be held to ransom, but there is a growing appreciation among club scouts that the Birmingham City keeper is an outstanding young talent.
The Merseysiders are likely to offer a structured deal, with an initial payment of around £5m supplemented by performance-related add-ons.
COATES TO BE LOANED OUT
Liverpool are ready to loan out defender Sebastian Coates in the New Year.
The 2011 summer signing has started only five league matches for the club and is behind first-choice centre-back pairing Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel, as well as Jamie Carragher, Martin Kelly and Andre Wisdom in the pecking order.
Goal.com understands that Brendan Rodgers does not want to sell the Uruguayan but accepts that the 22-year-old needs playing time to develop.
Coates is expected to be loaned out in January to a club on the Continent until the end of the season.
RODGERS WARY OF PLUNDERING SWANSEA AGAIN
Like many managers, Brendan Rodgers went with the tried and trusted when he began his summer overhaul of Liverpool.
But Goal.com has learned that senior Anfield figures are wary about signing another player he managed at Swansea.
Rodgers is a big admirer of Swans goalkeeper Michel Vorm and centre-back Ashley s but they are unlikely to follow Joe Allen and Fabio Borini, the two marquee purchases of the last window, to Merseyside.
In addition to the players and Rodgers, Liverpool have stockpiled their backroom staff with former Swansea men, including No.2 Colin Pascoe, head of performance Glen Driscoll, match analyst Chris Davies and fitness coach Ryland Morgans.