New signings should generally reflect the style and approach of a manager, but Liverpool's recent transfer business seems particularly tied to the approach favoured by Brendan Rodgers. His tenure so far has overseen the recruitment of Fabio Borini, Joe Allen and Nuri Sahin along with the departures of the majority of Kenny Dalglish's dismally poor signings, including Andy Carroll and Charlie Adam. The clear difference between the former grouping and the latter illustrates what Rodgers is trying to do at Liverpool -- to guide them into playing a more progressive style of football.
To play a particular style of football, you need a particular style of player. Borini, Allen and Sahin are all technically gifted; all suited to the pass, pass and pass philosophy preferred by Rodgers. The Liverpool manager knows only a certain type of player will be able to function within his highly demanding system, and is willing to pay over the odds for it, signified by the fact that Liverpool triggered Allen's release clause of £15 million.
Another manager might not have paid quite such an high fee for a player of the Welshman's quality, but Rodgers knew that the midfielder would immediately fit into his side. Likewise, Adam was sold on the cheap: the club happy to suffer a sizeable financial loss in exchange for the exit of a player that was never a good fit in their new fluid system.
Which brings us to Daniel Sturridge. Reliable sources suggest the Chelsea striker will be swapping London for Merseyside in January, bringing in some much-needed support for Luis Suarez. It is the latter's role that is most significant in this saga, as he lies at the heart of Rodgers' master plan. As the central striker, his job is to roam the pitch in search of the ball, thus dragging away defenders and opening up space for others. In the football layman's terms, he is a false nine, but even Lionel Messi needs a partner.
Not a partner in the traditional sense but a partner that can thrive on the former's roaming by bursting into goal-scoring positions. As Rodgers says, "what you have to have is people moving in off of that into the spaces that he vacates."
Suarez himself recognises the value of his movement. "If I am playing centre forward here and I drop off the front into this area, both centre backs might come with me in England. And then a team-mate can go into the space and be one on one with the goalkeeper."
Therefore, the signing of Fabio Borini made perfect sense, at least tactically, as the Italian combined clever movement with useful goal poaching from wide. His long-term injury scuppered his integration into the side.
Sturridge is similar. He was at his most effective in the Premier League when cutting inside onto his left foot from the right wing, scoring nine goals from that position in Andre Villas-Boas's short-lived Chelsea tenure. Despite an injury-disrupted campaign in the second half of the season, his directness and eye for goal makes him a good fit for Liverpool's system.
It is not his suitability for the Reds' system that is being questioned but rather the fee that is attached. Is £12 million too much for the young Englishman's potential, especially when Demba Ba, a prolific goal scorer in his own right, is available for half that price?
But Rodgers's doesn't value players in the way the average football fan does - that is, a price relative to their ability to play the sport. He values them on how they fit into his defined way of playing, and whether £12 million is a price worth paying for a complement for Suarez will be one of Liverpool's crucial questions in 2013.