Andy Carroll’s loan spell at West Ham has done nothing to persuade Liverpool he will revive his career at Anfield next season, but the Merseyside club will not lower their £17 million asking price this summer.
Although there is a prospect Carroll may have to return to his parent club in time for the next pre-season, that would only be in the event of further haggling over his fee, with Newcastle United sure to rival West Ham and revive their interest in re-signing their former player.
It is still Liverpool’s intention to sell Carroll at the earliest opportunity, but as they proved last summer, not on the cheap.
Liverpool face West Ham United this weekend, although Carroll will be ineligible for the Anfield fixture under Premier League rules.
Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, plans to meet Carroll at the end of the campaign to discuss his future, but it will be made clear his position has not changed in the last 12 months, particularly as the Merseysiders have since added to their attacking options.
At best, Carroll would only be a squad player for Liverpool with Rodgers having already shaped his team in a way which he does not feel would suit the 24-year-old’s strengths.
There is no desire on the club’s part to have a highly paid player stuck on the bench, nor on Carroll’s to see his career stall when he wants to be a regular starter and has ambitions to force his way back into the England fold in time for the World Cup.
As it stands, West Ham is in the prime position to make Carroll a permanent signing. As part of their year-long loan offer, they secured the option to conclude a longer-term deal for £17 million if they avoided relegation.
Sam Allardyce’s side are relatively safe in mid-table, but there have been no discussions yet between the parties about triggering Carroll’s clause as it remains a substantial investment for the London club.
Carroll will also be weighing up his options, influenced by whether Allardyce - who has championed the former England striker and made it clear he wants to keep him - signs a new contract.
The issue will be further complicated by Newcastle’s lingering hopes of taking Carroll back to the North-East - providing they stay up.
They baulked at Liverpool’s asking price a year ago, refusing to pay more than £12 million for a player they sold for £35 million in January, 2011.
Liverpool, however, will reopen negotiations with Newcastle manager Alan Pardew if West Ham do not take up the option of buying Carroll because they are interested in discussing a potential player swap-deal.
Rodgers is an admirer of French midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa, whose form and fitness he has been monitoring throughout the season because he believes he could fit seamlessly into the Liverpool line-up.
Carroll has scored five goals in his 17 appearances for West Ham.
Liverpool has recruited Daniel Sturridge since allowing Carroll to go alone. Sturridge is already under pressure to add consistency to his natural talent having been left out of the side that defeated Aston Villa last weekend.
If Carroll returned to Anfield now, he would not even be guaranteed a place on the bench on a week-to-week basis.
Rodgers still needs to raise as many funds as possible by offloading those surplus to requirements while also keeping control of his squad’s wage bill so that underused players are not absorbing valuable resources. It all adds up to Carroll’s return being an inconvenience the club would have to reluctantly deal with as and when it happened, rather than a chance for a fresh start.