The man Reds fans love to hate is in the news again. So is a certain MLS star. The stories flowed this week and generated a lot of questions for the soccer mailbag. So without further ado, let’s get to them.
Liverpool has only been outplayed by one team this season. In hindsight, is Torres the missing ingredient?
— Michael Greaney, undisclosed location
Hello Michael, thanks for the question. Fernando Torres himself isn’t the missing ingredient, but a clinical finisher to partner with Luis Suarez would improve Liverpool’s results.
The misfiring Chelsea striker is well short of his best form and has been for some time. A return to Anfield wouldn’t recreate the Torres of 2007-10. That Torres was a product of the atmosphere and system that his countryman, Rafa Benitez, devised.
LFC’s play has changed since then, with Kenny Dalglish implementing the pass and move approach. I’m not sure if that would work for the Torres of old. I’m certain that the new Torres wouldn’t prosper in it.
After much speculation about a new stadium or expansion of Anfield ever since the FSG takeover, things have gone pretty quiet. Does that mean Liverpool will be staying at an unexpanded Anfield for now (I mean two or three years)? When can we expect an announcement about the status of a new stadium? I am asking for a reasonable estimate, not an exact date. I feel the supporters are being kept completely out of the loop on this issue.
— Anuj, Ludhiana, India
The lack of talk about stadium plans means that things are developing behind the scenes as they should. Rest assured, the club is exploring all its options.
The timetable hinges on the club sealing a deal with a naming rights partner and its relationship with local authorities. A new main sponsor would help finance the construction of a new stadium or Anfield’s redevelopment. An announcement could come by the end of the season.
The club also has the option to take up a 999-year lease at nearby Stanley Park. FSG has not announced if it plans on doing so and the local council granted the club another extension of its planning consents in late September.
I have no inside information on the stadium developments, so I can only give you an educated guess. I’d expect to hear something more concrete (no pun intended) in the second half of 2012. Either way, the earliest Liverpool could play in a new or redeveloped stadium would be late in the 2013-14 season. Thanks, Anuj.
What do you think the Revolution will have to do in order to get back into the playoffs? Joseph and Reis are getting older and we might not have enough time left to find good replacements!
— Ryan Friend, Darien, Conn.
Hello, Ryan and thanks for the support. While both are nearing the end of their careers, Shalrie Joseph and Matt Reis will be key players in 2012. Simply put, the Revs need to change the culture in the locker room, tighten up the defense and find someone to consistently put the ball in the back of the net.
There is time for the Revs to find replacements before the season kicks off in March. The Superdraft takes place on Jan. 12 and the Revs hold the third pick. They can sign a foreign player and integrate him into the team during the preseason.
Fernando Torres is for sale. Which club do you think he will go to?
— Kassie, Durban, South Africa
Hello Kassie. Chelsea now claims Torres is not for sale, but that could be a bit of gamesmanship to keep his transfer value as high as possible. If he is indeed for sale, there’s only one place that I can see him going. That’s Real Madrid.
We all know Torres is an Atletico Madrid supporter, but he’s also a professional player. He’s at an age and achieved a stature in the game where only a handful of teams could afford his transfer fee and salary. That could trump the loyalty factor.
Real would offer him a new challenge that he may find attractive as it competes for trophies on all fronts. He would be comfortable in his home city. He’s also accustomed to receiving venom from spurned supporters and could thrive under the tutelage of Jose Mourinho.
If Real Madrid sell Karim Benzema or Gonzalo Higuain in January, I’d see Torres as a natural replacement.
Any idea what the FSG policy is on transfers this January window? Are we looking at the option of new recruits?
— Ishaan Krishna, Mumbai, India
Greetings from Boston to India, Ishaan. The policy is that there is money to spend if Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli think an addition will strengthen the team. But they remain tight-lipped about possible signings because any comments would affect ongoing negotiations between players and clubs. But yes, the option and money is there.
I would not be shocked if Liverpool didn’t buy in the upcoming transfer window. Players and staff alike have praised this year’s squad as one of the strongest in recent years. If no new players are added, that would be nothing short of a statement of belief in the players at Dalglish’s disposal. It may upset many supporters, but it could lift the players to new levels.
Marcus, what are your thoughts on why Landon Donovan has not taken his talents overseas aside from his loan stint with Everton (during which he played great) and early in his career? I see Donovan being a fine player in the EPL or even in the French or Italian leagues. He’s got the smarts and the skill to play against better competition, and yet he chooses to stay in the MLS. Now the MLS is getting better as a league but why shouldn’t the league’s best player, who has done it all here, head overseas before it is too late? Thanks.
— Sean Murphy, N.H.
Hello Sean and thanks for the question. Donovan hasn’t taken his talents overseas because he’s a Southern California kid (now a man) who decided a decade ago that he wanted to live and work close to home. He thought he would get the most out of his career if he was happy in his personal life and I think he’s done just that.
MLS facilitated the decision when it paid him enough to make it happen. He was earning over $1 million (salary and endorsements) back in 2005 and now makes over twice as much. Needless to say, he’s living comfortably in SoCal.
When he made that call, he accepted a unique challenge. That was to consistently dominate in MLS and lead the U.S. men’s national team. He’s won four MLS Cups and amassed 138 appearances for his country before the age of 30. He’s met a personal challenge in growing up in the public eye. He’s met the daunting professional challenge of helping to build the game in this country and leading his national team. What comes next is entirely up to him and he’s earned the right to decide. As far as I’m concerned he’s got nothing to prove as a soccer player.
He has the talent to play in any league in the world. His successful loan spell at Everton proved that. If he makes a permanent move overseas, it wouldn’t be to improve himself as a player as the 29-year-old is the finished article.
Personally, I’d like to see him remain in Major League Soccer, shatter records and set the gold standard for which all future MLS players (both foreign and native-born) would aim. It may take decades for a player to come along and match Donovan’s achievements for club and country. But his staying here gives lisence to any player to do the same.
American players are playing at clubs all over Europe. But when they assemble as a national team, Donovan is still the best of the bunch. As long as he’s still at that level, I don’t really care where he plays.
Finally, MLS needs its best players to stay. It needs them to become stars on the field so it can market them off it. But it’s got to pay players competitive salaries that make staying here an attractive option.
Sorry for rambling, but thanks for the questions. That’s all for this week.