Liverpool get linked with any number of new signings during the transfer windows, and this January has been no different. Championship players, foreign-based players, international superstars—a whole host of them come and go in the media column inches for a few weeks, while at most one or two are likely to arrive.
Daniel Sturridge joined the Reds early on in January. Joe Cole and, soon after, Nuri Sahin trod the opposite path.
A couple of youngsters have left on loan, too, and Brendan Rodgers has let fans know not to expect too much more to happen...but the rumours persist.
From a supporter's perspective, sometimes the rumours just don't cover the basics.
Like, areas of the team which need improvement. Players who would actually be a step up from those already at the club. Individuals who aren't going to need a substantial, and perhaps unrealistic, initial outlay of cash.
Sometimes there're players just lying around waiting to be picked up who just might be a perfect fit for the club. Here're four players that the Reds would do well to consider adding to their squad, either during January or in the summer.
These are players who haven't been linked with a transfer to the Reds for this current transfer window—but in some cases have been with other teams.
First and foremost, Liverpool's midfield is the problem area right now.
Not that there isn't enough quality there; all fit and in-form, Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva and Joe Allen are potentially a very good trio, with Jonjo Shelvey, Suso and Jordan Henderson all providing a range of attributes and squad depth.
Even so, the Reds have lacked real strength and power in midfield since the likes of Momo Sissoko and Javier Mascherano departed (see Old Trafford last Sunday for evidence), and there is one potentially top-class defensive midfielder available right at this instant.
Once up to a £20-million-rated midfielder, Yann M'Vila's off-field issues have counted against him and made managers unwilling to take the risk—but he's on offer now at a third of that price.
QPR are said to be close to a deal (per BBC), and while it certainly would be a gamble, Brendan Rodgers' man management has already shown he can coax the best out of under-performing players and guide one or two through some tough times.
If he could snap up M'Vila and lead him back to his best on a regular basis, even improving what the French midfielder has shown up until now, then Liverpool would have a Champions League-quality holding midfielder on their hands. That M'Vila can also play as the box-to-box option means Lucas is not merely sidelined, and that gives the boss more flexibility without reducing quality in the centre of the park.
Glen Johnson has shown superb form down both sides of the defence for Liverpool this season, but the fact that he's been deployed on the left so often is indicative of the Reds' problems in this position.
As is, of course, the fact that they've played four players there so far, one of whom is a £20 million winger, while the presumed first-choice left-back was shifted further forward.
Despite a recent spate of more impressive performances, nine months of poor output from Jose Enrique out of 15 months of on-pitch performance is just not good enough, and the Reds simply have to get it right in this position this summer.
A long and somewhat sad list of names have attempted to fill that particular role in the side over the past few years—Nacho Monreal should be somewhere near the top of the list to be the next candidate.
The Malaga left-back is a regular at club level, gaining experience in the Champions League this season, though he missed two months before Christmas with a back injury.
Capped nine times for Spain, Monreal is not the most explosive attacking full-back around but is dependable, reliable and competent at both ends of the pitch. The Reds need experience as well as quality in this area with youngsters Andre Wisdom and Jack Robinson providing the competition, and Monreal is unlikely to cost a huge initial transfer fee.
With Malaga ineligible for European competition next season and needing to bring in additional cash, one or two stars will likely be offloaded—if the Reds act quickly, Monreal might be one of them.
One now who has been linked with the Reds in the past, but not in this window.
Ajax schemer Christian Eriksen is almost certain to leave his club this summer, with just one year left on his present contract.
A hugely talented attacking midfielder, Eriksen has this season alternated his usual role with a more advanced one, playing as a withdrawn centre-forward.
Seven goals and 11 assists from all competitions point to his influence in the final third of the pitch, which would be hugely appreciated by the likes of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge ahead or on either side of him.
Still only 20 until next month, Eriksen would likely command a fee of around £15 million, despite the length left on his contract, and he could be in demand, but Liverpool would certainly see him as an attractive proposition if he indicated a willingness to discuss a move.
Young, precociously talented, versatile enough to play in several positions and experienced and proven at the highest levels of the game, Eriksen has competed in a World Cup, a European Championship and has played 16 Champions League games in addition to almost 100 Dutch top flight matches.
This signing comes with a number of guarantees of quality, and Liverpool could use every one of them.
Attacking midfield is an area which needs to be nailed down this summer by Brendan Rodgers, both in terms of what type of player he largely wants to fill the role and also, of course, who will fill it.
Of course, should Liverpool go ahead and sign Wesley Sneijder in the next few days then it's pretty much a case of "position filled..."
Liverpool have to box clever in the transfer market, and somewhere along the line that is going to include selling a first-team player to replace him with either someone just as good but cheaper, or else the ability to become even better and of a younger age.
The former frees up funds for improvements elsewhere; the latter brings new quality to the team and provides greater security on resale value for the future than hanging on for a longer time to the aging first picks of the team.
One of the areas which could be improved, perhaps significantly, is central defence.
The Reds are lucky to have an established duo who have played almost two seasons regularly alongside each other now, but with a number of top quality European players approaching the final year of their contracts this summer, now might be the time to move.
Benedikt Howedes is first and foremost a monster of a defender—one of the best in Germany.
Rugged, fearless, dependable and very comfortable in possession, Howedes is a rock for Schalke even though they have not been at their best this season.
If they don't end the campaign in a European football spot (they're currently seventh, with four defeats from the last six) then Howedes might be one of those players looking to test himself elsewhere.
Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic continue to gain admiring glances, but if the Reds are looking to secure a talented centre-back at a reasonable age, they should look no further than Howedes. At 24, he's around the same age as recent target Vegard Forren, is vastly more experienced and proven and would be an admirable addition to the squad.
No trial necessary here.
Of course, the Reds are going to have to maintain European competition themselves for next season if they want to present the club as a viable alternative for Howedes to playing where he is right now, so Rodgers needs to get the current defence playing at their best.
There's plenty of opportunity coming Liverpool's way, though, to improve the team significantly over the next few months, and it's not all going to take a huge lot of cash. Liverpool must make sure their targets are identified early and that they are ready to move when the summer window opens.