We're salivating at the thought of the Champions League returning this week, so here are five games to look forward to. How will Liverpool cope against Real Madrid?
Twenty questions on twenty goalkeepers, one for each of the teams in the Premier League. Maybe not as easy as it sounds...
Despite playing without any enduring problem for the last four years, it seems a failure to pass a medical has scuppered Remy's proposed move to Liverpool this week. Divock Origi has arrived at Anfield but only on the condition that he would be loaned straight back to Lille and with Luis Suarez having moved to Barcelona, Brendan Rodgers is left with Daniel Sturridge and Rickie Lambert as the only recognised strikers in the squad.
Remy boasts strengths of 'long shots' and 'finishing' on WhoScored.com, and was one of the Premier League's biggest threats on the counter attack last season; in fact, only Suarez (nine) had more attempts on the break than Remy (six) in the whole top flight. He had the third most shots per game in the Premier League (3.5), hanging on the shoulder of the last man and thus caught offside the second most times per game (1.2), while also faring well for a striker in terms of both dribbles (1.1) and key passes (1.2).
It is proving difficult for Liverpool to spend the riches that came with Suarez's departure on an adequate replacement, and now that the Remy deal has fallen through, what other options, statistically similar to the Frenchman, are available to the Reds?
Marco Reus - Borussia Dortmund
Any hope of Liverpool signing the Borussia Dortmund winger is slim to say the least, but he is certainly the best option out there for the Reds to pursue. Like Remy, he is a pacy forward who likes to cut inside from the left, as his WhoScored characteristics dictate, while he can also match the Frenchman's strengths, additionally strong at taking set-pieces, key passes, through balls and crossing. The lofty fee suggested reflects how much better an option he would be to Liverpool than Remy, but his quality also means that his club are unlikely to sell.
Able to play on either wing or through the middle, Reus is two years Remy's junior but is more prolific and has more big-game experience, whilst also providing vastly more in a creative sense. It is unclear whether Rodgers has already admitted defeat on this one, and it may be that bringing in Reus is a dream too big for this summer.
Kevin Volland - Hoffenheim
One of Europe's most exciting prospects, Volland was in Jogi Low's provisional squad for the World Cup but failed to make the final 23 after the manager instead chose to stockpile midfielders in Brazil, though that is not to take anything away from the ability of the forward. Still only 22, Volland hit 11 Bundesliga goals last season and Hoffenheim will be desperate to hold on to him for at least another year. He is a threat on the break, having had eight such attempts last season, and could well thrive in a fast-paced, counter-attacking Liverpool side.
A left-footer who plays on the right, Volland too likes to cut inside, but he is probably not entirely what Rodgers is after in terms of replacing Suarez. However, young, fresh and bursting with talent while also reportedly carrying a £12.5m release clause, Volland could represent the kind of value Remy was originally going to be.
Alessio Cerci - Torino
Another option that may prove difficult to tear away from the grasp of his club, Cerci enjoyed a fantastic season at Torino alongside Ciro Immobile, but with the latter having since moved to Dortmund, the Turin-based side will be keen to avoid selling. Cerci hit double figures for both goals (13) and assists (10) in Serie A last season, with three of those goals coming on the counter attack. With 1.6 key passes per game, he is less of an out-and-out goalscorer than Remy, but further creativity for the likes of Sturridge and Raheem Sterling to feed off certainly would not go amiss.
Also caught offside on average 1.1 times per game, Cerci looks for balls in behind often while coming deep to collect possession too, so he is probably the most varied of these options, and is certainly more so than Remy. He has statistically calculated strengths that can match and better Remy's, with through balls and key passes stated as 'strong' in addition to finishing and long shots. He certainly has the talent to thrive at Liverpool, the only doubt will be whether he can adapt to the pace of the Premier League.
Shinji Okazaki - Mainz
Japan striker Okazaki would be another versatile option for Brendan Rodgers to consider. Only six players scored more Bundesliga goals last season than Okazaki (15), who also added another one against Colombia at the World Cup before James Rodríguez was introduced to proceedings. His conversion rate (20.8%) was significantly better last season than that of Remy (15.6%), and he is mostly concerned with making clever runs to be played in behind, caught offside 1.5 times per game.
Often charged with challenging for long balls up field at Mainz (winning an impressive 3.4 aerial duels per game), things would be different at Rodgers' short-passing Liverpool, and Okazaki would need to get used to seeing more of the ball, having completed just 13.5 passes per game last season.
Rodrigo Palacio - Inter Milan
Replacing the likes of Sergio Aguero, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Gonzalo Higuaín, Palacio found it difficult not to disappoint at the World Cup. He missed a couple of guilt-edged chances that saw many fans prematurely write him off, but after a fruitful season for Inter, there is little reason to doubt his value at club level.
He ranked joint-fourth in the goalscoring Serie A charts this season (17) with compatriot Higuaín, whilst also registering seven assists. Not as fast or physically domineering as the likes of Remy or Suarez, Palacio could still assert himself on the Premier League, in the same way Philippe Coutinho did after moving from San Siro. At 32 he is not quite the sprightly, young, exciting option that fans may be after, but he could be a good stop-gap in this market from which it is so far proving understandably difficult to replace Suarez.
All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.
If being caught offside is taken as an indicator of making clever runs, I suppose yellow and red cards are sign of great tackler?- dr soccer