By Lee Dover
Liverpool have taken a painful tumble after being among the top dogs of English football just a few seasons ago.
There are plenty of places where fans can point the finger – the fiasco that was the Hicks and Gillett takeover, the failure to build on Champions League glory and King Kenny’s less than glorious reign last season.
But getting a striker to match the exploits of Ian Rush, Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen at the famous Anfield club seems to be the most alarming problem.
Liverpool’s top scorer last season was Luis Suarez, but his 11 Premier League goals was a world apart from Robin Van Persie’s 30 strikes even though he did have to serve an eight-match suspension.
Stats like these will have the Kop thinking back to the days when Owen and Fowler were scoring goals for fun at Anfield. Or even when Fernando Torres knew that the aim of the game was to put a football into the net.
Liverpool fans desperately need their side to wake from its slumber and a striker who will inspire this resurgence must be the priority. Here’s five…
1) Clint Dempsey
The Fulham target man has been strongly linked with a move North since before the new season began.
The American international took to the Premier League like a duck to water when he played his first game for the Cottagers Fulham against Tottenham Hotspur back in January 2007. Fulham boss Martin Jol dropped Dempsey from his squad last week because of Brendan Rodgers’ making public Liverpool’s interest.
Dempsey’s 17 Premier League goals last season saw the American finish as joint fourth top scorer in the top flight. Americans may refer to the beautiful game as ‘soccer’ but at least there are a few of them who know how to let their feet do the talking.
2) Florent Sinama-Pongolle
Florent Sinama-Pongolle has apparently tired of life in Portugal and is hoping to have a second stab at Premier League football.
The French international was one of Liverpool’s best young prospects when he was a part of the 2001 squad. However, he was too inexperienced to make a lasting impression at Anfield and was packed his bags for Recreativo de Huelva in 2006.
The move proved to be just what Sinama-Pongolle needed. He was top scorer at the Spanish club for two seasons straight, before enjoying further success at Atletico Madrid and Sporting Lisbon. With the Reds about to sign Real Madrid midfielder Nuri Sahin, Sinama-Pongolle could be the a link man between midfield and attack.
3) Gaston Ramirez
The old saying goes that if at first you don’t succeed, then try and try again (like the above). This is what Brendan Rodgers should be thinking about Gaston Ramirez.
Premier League new-boys Southampton looked to have secured the Uruguayan’s services having beaten off fierce competition in the transfer window from Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. However, now that the deal between Ramirez and the Saints has collapsed the Reds have an opportunity to snap up a 21-year-old who everyone believes has a big future in the game.
Ramirez could prove the perfect striking partner for compatriot Suarez and usher in another golden age for the Kop.
4) Dimitar Berbatov
Ok, ok, controversial. It’s bordering on cruelty to look at Dimitar Berbatov watching so much Premier League action from the sidelines now at Manchester United. And it looks like the Bulgarian international has been pushed further down the pecking order at Old Trafford after Van Persie joined from Arsenal last week.
Surely Berbatov’s professional pride will demand he be allowed play football at either Old Trafford or at least shake himself to go somewhere else.
Where better to get on the team-sheet than at Anfield? With a £5 million price tag the man who United signed for £30m from Spurs could prove one of the steals of late summer.
5) Jermain Defoe
England international Defoe has a choice to make before the transfer window snaps shut.
His future at Tottenham Hotspur is up in the air with the recent signing of Emmanuel Adebayor at White Hart Lane on a permanent basis. And rumours persist that Leandro Damiao is in line to become Andre Villas-Boas’ next big signing.
Defoe would almost certainly bring the much-needed attacking finesse to Anfield and proved he still has an eye for goal when scoring against Newcastle last weekend. He also netted for England in a friendly international against Italy a few days before that.
This would be the perfect opportunity for Liverpool to bring in a striker still at the peak of his powers.