The summer transfer window: A time of rebuilding, positivity, planning and spending—for clubs, anyway.
For fans, it's more of a time for frustration, anxiety, desperation and waiting—oh the god-awful, endless, drawn-out waiting.
Even with all that, it's still the time of year that it seems football folk look forward to the most (after maybe the opening day of the season), as clubs everywhere spend millions of pounds in trying to improve their fortunes on the field.
Liverpool are likely to be one of the busiest Premier League clubs around this summer, as they restructure for a top-four assault, so it's time to call "True or False" on all the main rumours surrounding the summer.
We'll start at the back of the pitch and work our way forward—so first off, it's perhaps the most tenuous link of all.
Two weeks back, Liverpool were held to a 0-0 draw by bottom-of-the-league Reading, with the away side's goalkeeper Alex McCarthy putting in a virtuoso performance to keep Luis Suarez and co. at bay.
Just days later, McCarthy was linked in the media with a summer transfer to Anfield (via Daily Star).
He's promising goalkeeper, but one display against the Reds won't be the basis for Liverpool's summer dealings. Or at least, it certainly shouldn't be.
Here's a second goalkeeper: Michel Vorm, Swansea City's No. 1, has been routinely linked with a move to the Reds almost since the day manager Brendan Rodgers stepped through the door.
Most recently he has been quoted as talking about how much he admired working with Rodgers at Swansea, leading some to suggest he was angling for a move to Liverpool in the summer (via Liverpool Echo).
Vorm has proven his quality in the Premier League but would certainly cost significantly more than the £1.5 million the Swans paid for him two summers ago.
Liverpool will stick with current goalkeeper Pepe Reina for another season as they continue to restructure other areas of the team, since Reina has also shown improved form of late.
We're Into the defence now, which is an area that Liverpool will certainly be looking for reinforcements in, giving the global media ample chance to throw their names out—perhaps in the hopes of ensnaring one by naming many.
Modibo Diakite has been linked continuously with the Reds (via Daily Express) and will be available on a free transfer in the summer, as his contract comes to an end.
While the lack of big fee to bring him to the club might be an attractive proposition if the Reds do not have big funds to improve the team with, it will surely be a concern that Diakite has not played a single league game all season long.
The Reds could well be after a low-cost or free defender to bulk up the squad and offset the loss of Jamie Carragher without a fee, but there might be one target better suited and more match-practiced: Twente's Douglas.
A much higher-valued central defender now, Brazilian international Dede plays club football for Vasco da Gama in his homeland.
His club has apparently already accepted that he will be sold this summer to help with its finances, and Liverpool have him high on their wish list, according to Mirror Football. The centre-back is rated at around £15 million, and plenty of Europe's top clubs are also said to be interested.
Dede is strong in the air, athletic and capable of bringing the ball out of defence, but he has also suffered injuries and is seen as an inconsistent player by some.
If Champions League clubs are interested and Dede is set on a move away this summer, the simple facts are that Liverpool will struggle to land their man. It could happen, but they may have to look elsewhere.
Back to Europe for the next name in defence is Ajax's Toby Alderweireld, who has impressed in the Eredivisie and the Champions League this season.
He has been linked with the Reds plenty of times since January, though the latest reports from Sky Sports indicate that nothing has been signed at this time, contrary to earlier reports.
The Belgian international can also play on the right side of defence, as he does for his nation, and is known for being an exceptional on-the-ball defender as well as a good reader of the game.
Doubtless the Reds will face competition for the defender, but Alderweireld is a quality and versatile player who could bring balance as well as more solidity to the back line.
He's not the powerful, organising type who the Reds desperately need, so they'd still probably be looking at bringing in one more, but he would be a great start to the restructuring of the back four.
£8.5 million-rated centre-back Dejan Lovren is another who, like Alderweireld, brings calmness and quality on the ball to the back line and can also feature in the wider areas of defence.
He has been linked with a move to Liverpool in previous seasons, though he has stayed playing at Lyon in France during that time. Now he is said to be interesting a number of teams, including the Reds, Everton, Chelsea and AC Milan (via Express).
Lovren is a Croatian international, is 23 years of age and has three more years left on his contract at Lyon.
Rumours about Lovren are longstanding but have never seemed to materialise into anything concrete.
Liverpool have also been linked with a swoop for Paris Saint-Germain defender Mamadou Sakho, who is still in the centre-back role (via Metro). The French defender is said to be near the top of the list for Brendan Rodgers to replace Jamie Carragher when he retires.
Sakho is seen as PSG's third-choice central defender, behind Brazilian duo Alex and Thiago Silva, but he wants to move in the summer to secure regular games ahead of the World Cup next summer.
Presumably, Liverpool could give him regular-game time. But Sakho, a left-footed player, occupies the same position as Daniel Agger, while the Reds are, in the ordinary scheme of things, looking for someone to complement rather than compete with him.
Sakho will make a great signing for one team this summer and probably at a reasonable price too, but he will have no shortage of suitors and might want top European action if he is to keep his place in the French national side.
Here's another defender with previous history of being linked to the Reds: Manchester City's Micah Richards.
A year ago, this move would have been unthinkable. Richards was one of the most-important components of Roberto Mancini's side as an attacking right-back as City won the Premier League title.
A year later and he has suffered a campaign of injury and watched Pablo Zabaleta prove himself one of the top full-backs in the league. And rumours have surfaced of him exiting the Etihad Stadium, possibly moving to Anfield (via Mirror).
Richards is very powerful, fast and great in the air—everything that Liverpool should be looking for in a centre-back partner for Daniel Agger. Most of Richards' career, though, has been spent on the right rather than in the centre, and it would be a risk to make him first choice in the middle.
It could, of course, also be a risk which pays off in a huge, huge way.
This would be a great signing for Liverpool. The club should definitely go for Micah, and he could prove one of the mainstays of the team for a decade, but you suspect he will remain at City next season after all.
There's a possible return for a former player now, with plenty of media outlets still predicting that Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso could make a comeback to Liverpool this summer.
The Spanish playmaker has been an integral part of the Real side under Jose Mourinho, but recent reports indicate that his future is "undecided," amidst rumours of a Liverpool bid (via Express).
At 31 years of age, Alonso would immediately become one of the veterans in the squad, but his winning mentality and experience would also be welcome additions.
Aside from questions of the club paying a significant fee for an over-30 player, where is the spot in the team that Alonso would occupy? Pairing him with Steven Gerrard would make for a worryingly immobile midfield for Liverpool. Essentially, they play the same role—making a move for the Basque hero unlikely this year.
Similar to Alonso in that he is a player who prefers to orchestrate play from a deeper role in the midfield, dos Santos is said to want to leave Barcelona after becoming disillusioned with the lack of playing time he is handed in the first team.
For a more detailed look at his possible transfer, you can check out this scouting report on him.
It's false for similar reasons to the Alonso deal in terms of position on the pitch, and also that he would be far from guaranteed more regular game time—not because Liverpool's side is as filled with quality as Barcelona's, but because the player he would be in direct competition with remains one of the league's top players.
There seems to be little doubt that Brendan Rodgers is looking for a No. 10-style playmaker this summer, and while other outlets have gone as far to say it is almost a done deal, latest indications are that there is no formal agreement between Liverpool and Ajax for Christian Eriksen (via Sky Sports).
Regardless, it is widely known that the Reds have been scouting the Danish player for some time, and this will almost certainly be the summer that he leaves Holland.
With just one year remaining on his contract, Eriksen knows this is the right time for both himself and his club to part ways—ensuring they still get a solid fee for him.
There will be other clubs watching and interested too, but Liverpool could yet pull this deal off. It might turn out to be the biggest money deal of the summer for the Reds, but the rumours and speculation have gone on for so long that there is almost certainly serious interest there.
Let's do things the other way round this time:
But...if Liverpool do not manage to secure the signature of Eriksen ahead of other interested parties, there is a good chance that the Reds will instead look East to Shakhtar Donetsk attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
The Armenian has been heavily linked with Liverpool since January (via Metro) and most recently is said to have even changed agents in attempt to broker the deal to move to Anfield.
Depending on the type of attacking central midfielder that Rodgers is looking for, it could be argued that Mkhitaryan is the more suited player anyway. He certainly offers the better goal threat and is perhaps a more hardworking, team-oriented player than Eriksen.
This one might run on all summer unless the signature of Eriksen is captured early on, whether by Liverpool or another side.
Moving into more attacking territory now, Liverpool have been linked with a summer move for Newcastle United's unpredictable Hatem Ben Arfa (via Mirror Football). The Magpies are said to be unwilling to sell the attacker.
Ben Arfa is a tricky, fast, skillful player capable of playing anywhere in the front line, but he has also suffered with injuries and inconsistency in his time at the club.
A swap deal for Andy Carroll and Ben Arfa is also mentioned as a possible deal.
Unless the unlikely scenario of a Carroll-Ben Arfa-plus-cash deal arises, this one is probably dead in the water. Ben Arfa is too important for Newcastle to lose and would command a huge fee. And if he is rated by his club at £12 million-plus, then the Reds could probably do better by going elsewhere.
Onto the forwards now: First, let's take a look at a Premier League newcomer who is proving a hit—though Loic Remy and his club Queens Park Rangers are going to be relegated within the next week or two.
That relegation will trigger a clause allowing the French forward to leave the club in the summer for around £8 million, and Liverpool are one of those clubs waiting for that to happen (via Daily Mail).
Having scored five goals in 10 games since arriving in January, it seems a few clubs are happy to have let QPR run the risk of letting Remy adapt to the English top flight and will now pounce to seal his talents when the Hoops are out of the way and forced into a sale.
This one could go either way, as there are likely to be a number of English clubs sniffing around Remy in the summer.
He's 26, he's very fast, and he's proven he can hit the back of the net and can play central or from the flanks. In short, he'd be a good squad addition for a reasonable fee, and that's probably as much as Liverpool will be looking for in terms of strikers this summer.
We're at the final rumour of the day now: Aston Villa's powerful forward Christian Benteke.
The Belgian has been a big hit since arriving last summer and is a big reason why Villa are still within a shout of staying up this season. He has been linked with a move away this summer (via Mirror) for around £15 million—double what Villa spent on him a year ago.
Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs are amongst the sides rumoured to be interested in the 15-league goal striker.
Liverpool's approach to signing talented youngsters is heading towards finding them one step earlier. In other words, the move that Benteke made last year, not the one he might make this year.
It's up to the Reds' scouting team to find the players at their "intermediate" clubs and make the right decisions earlier, rather than waiting for lower Premier League clubs to take the risk and then reap the financial rewards a year later.