With the transfer of scintillating striker Daniel Sturridge complete, it will be hard to argue against Liverpool being one of the big winners of January's transfer season. They were in desperate need of a scoring punch, and Sturridge is the type of talent who can bring that now and in the future.
The move was a massive coup for Brendan Rodgers and may take the scorn of criticism off his head for the time being. However, based on all the rumblings around Liverpool, it doesn't look like Rodgers is done making moves yet.
His club still has a few more glaring needs and will need to fix them in order to compete the remainder of the season. With that in mind, let's take a look at all the latest rumors floating around at Anfield.
Liverpool Outbid for Davide Astori?
Sturridge may prove to be Liverpool's biggest coup of the winter transfer window, but that doesn't mean the Reds are a perfect bunch. They are still in desperate need of some defensive help, as evidenced by the fact they have given up 26 goals this season.
In a vacuum, that obviously isn't a lot over 21 games. However, Liverpool is tied for the fourth-most goals allowed among teams still in contention in the Premier League table. That's an especially disconcerting fact considering their lack of pre-Sturridge attacking prowess.
To remedy those defensive woes, Rodgers has reportedly looked to acquire defender Davide Astori from the Italian club Cagliari. Unfortunately, the Reds look like they are going to lose out on the recently-turned 26-year-old to Southampton, according to Simon Jones of the Daily Mail:
Liverpool have made an offer of £7 million for Italy international Davide Astori but are likely to miss out to Southampton. The 25-year-old defender is valued at £12m by his club Cagliari and Southampton have offered £9.5m and hope to strike a deal, with the Saints in particular need of defensive reinforcements after conceding 37 goals in the first half of the Premier League season.
Losing out on Astori would obviously be more of a frustration than a crippling blow. Liverpool desperately needed a striker during the transfer window and went out of their way to land a top-notch player like Sturridge.
Still, Astori would be a huge addition to the Reds' defense, and losing out on him to a Premier League rival has to sting a little bit.
Money Separating Tom Ince from Coming to Liverpool?
While Sturridge will undoubtedly be a top scoring threat for the Reds' present and future, the club may still be targeting his future running mate. Tom Ince, the 20-year-old winger who has made a name for himself captivating Blackpool audiences, is reportedly on Liverpool's radar this winter.
There's just one problem: Blackpool has a set price for Ince's services and don't appear willing to budge. According to Joe Bernstein of the Daily Mail, Blackpool wants £6 million for Ince, while Liverpool is offering just £4 million:
Liverpool's long-running bid for England Under 21 international Tom Ince, from Blackpool, is a game of who blinks first. They will not raise their offer beyond £4 million, but Blackpool are holding out for £6 million.
Call me simple-minded, but I've watched enough Pawn Stars in my time to know when a compromise is staring two sides in the face. Ince's time with Blackpool has run its course, and they could use the money brought in by selling someone of his caliber.
Meanwhile, Ince is a player the Reds have long been linked to, and now is the perfect time to strike. They have Stirridge already in place, and Ince has all the tools to be in Liverpool's starting 11 very soon.
Settle at £5 million and let's wrap it up.
Jack Butland a Possibility?
While there aren't exactly many people clamoring for the end of the Pepe Reina era at Anfield, the Reds may be working on adding his heir apparent. Jack Butland, the mammoth 19-year-old goaltender from Birmingham, is reportedly being shopped around during the winter window.
According to the Mirror's John Cross, Liverpool and Southampton are both among those clubs interested in Butland's services:
Birmingham may be ready to sell and Liverpool and Southampton are among the interested teams who believe Butland can form a strong partnership and successful combo with their defence.
Though the Reds don't necessarily have a need inside the net at the moment, adding Butland would be a great move. He's widely considered one of the more talented young goalkeepers in the world and a guy who is on the rise for England's national team.
Still, Liverpool isn't alone in their desire to land Butland. It will certainly take a large transfer fee to get Birmingham to relinquish a top star like Butland, and their willingness to move him will rely on how much clubs are willing to pony up.
With the Reds having other needs, Butland may wind up falling through their fingertips this winter.