A fond farewell: This team could be quite different in two months.
The rumor mill is already in full grind, crushing the potential and improbable alike into a paste that offers sweet succor to some and a bitter tonic to others.
Somewhere in there, Liverpool Football Club’s offseason transfer targets are spinning about.
Brendan Rodgers and his transfer committee haven’t stopped to mop this season's sweat from their brows, wasting little time in stepping into the bazaar.
The recent deal for the free transfer of Manchester City’s Kolo Toure (via This is Anfield) coupled with the seemingly diminished number of players being linked to a Merseyside move, evidences that the club has already identified their targets and are systematically plugging the gaps in a stepwise fashion.
So who are the players linked with Liverpool FC that could slot into the system that Brendan Rodgers favors?
Here is a look at of some of the lead contenders (divided into positions) linked in media reports who are most likely to end up with the Liver bird on their chests based on what they have to offer the Northern Irishman.
But pay attention. This is almost all guaranteed to change tomorrow.
Despite current Liverpool No. 1 Pepe Reina repeatedly insisting that he does not intend to leave Anfield this season, speculation is still rampant about his future and whether or not he will head to Camp Nou.
The Reds have been linked to Stoke FC’s Asmir Begovic and Alex McCarthy at Reading FC; however, a recent article by ESPN FC’s Mike Whalley has Belgian Shot stopper Simon Mignolet at the head of the netminding class.
The Sunderland AFC shot stopper played every minute of every game this season, posting 11 clean sheets and earning him the Black Cats’ Player of the Year honors in the process.
A pure shot stopper, his distribution is not quite on a par with Reina’s but his 149 saves is double that of Reina’s (73) and a good gauge of his level of concentration.
ESPN FC is reporting that his agent is downplaying a potential move. Another stalling point might be that should Reina stay, the Belgian international might be sidelined. And with the World Cup looming, a bench will not help him showcase his abilities.
The common thread seems to be age and versatility. One exception that would make sense is the signing of Greek International Kyriakos Papadopoulos. With the gaps that are opening up in the center of Liverpool’s defense, Brendan Rodgers will need a big personality to fill it. And according to the Guardian’s Sachin Nakrani, Papadopoulos has it in bucketfuls.
The 21-year-old’s might be in sync with the Northern Irishman’s philosophy of moving the ball out of the back, but his aerial prowess and commanding presence in the back offers Liverpool something that they have been lacking and have sorely missed since Martin Skrtel lost his swagger.
Whoscored offers some insight into his strengths and weaknesses and notes discipline as the latter. With Luis Suarez’s proclivity for drawing attention to himself, Papadopoulos’ temper will be of some concern.
However, alongside Daniel Agger, the Greek international could be the much-needed blunderbuss to complement the Danish rapier. At barely over 20 years of age, he has a lot of tread still left on the tires. Schalke 04 is likely to eke every last euro they can out of their young stopper’s departure, but he might be well worth it.
Tiago Ilori, the 20-year-old Sporting Lisbon central defender, is another young defender reportedly being linked with a move to Liverpool. With the Reds’ initial bid of £3.5 million rejected, the Mirror is reporting that Spanish team, Valencia, is now entered the race.
The Mirror article has suggested that the highly-rated 6’3” youngster would step into the first 11. Despite his ability, however, the Liverpool Echo believes that the London-born youngster is more likely to replace want-away Sebastian Coates as a future talent.
Young and coachable, Ilori could well be a great servant to the club in the future.
As seems to be the want of Brendan Rodgers, his main targets in the midfield all have the ability to fill more than one role in the top half of the pitch.
Reports continue to swirl regarding the pending transfer of Celta Vigo utility man Iago Aspas. The Liverpool Echo’s James Pearce is alleging that the Spaniard has now agreed to terms and will be on his way to Liverpool for his physical before the week’s end.
Passionate or undisciplined, his now-famous head-butting incident of Deportivo de la Coruna's Carlos Marchena does not detract from the attacking midfielder’s ability. Quick and able to take defenders on anywhere on the park, it was exactly these qualities that led to his assist over the weekend and proved the difference in the 1-0 victory that kept Celta Vigo in the Spanish top flight.
His 25-goal tally this season set a single-season record in the Ukraine, potentially explaining why Liverpool scouts watched him on no fewer than 12 occasions. And despite the reported £22 million price tag on him, Andy Hunter of the Guardian reports that Liverpool are willing to stump up the cash for his services.
Outside of the cost, he checks most of the Reds’ transfer boxes. At 24, he’s in the age range, he can score from almost anywhere and his speed, versatility and striking ability are putting him on quite a few big club’s radar.
The Luis Suarez drama has made for some interesting rumors. It has long been rumored that Pep Guardiola has been keen on luring the Uruguayan to the Allianz arena, and it is now alleged that he is offering Champions League final hero Arjen Robben as a make weight (via Mirror Football), a move that B/R tactical analyst Sam Tighe questions in his recent article.
The Dutchman’s ability is undeniable; however, at his age and salary requirement, he doesn’t fit the docket. Additionally, coming from a treble-winning club to a team that is trying to reinvent itself might call his commitment into question, too.
Goal’s Greg Stobart has reported that the Reds are looking to sign Carlos Tevez as a potential replacement for Luis Suarez. It is not surprising that this has surfaced again as the ex-Boca Juniors star has been a target for the Reds in the past.
His dogged determination is reminiscent of Suarez’s tenacity, and although a little older, he still causes defenses problems. As City is undergoing the expected overhaul, it seems that the Argentinian will be on the fringes. His temperament might also be of some concern to his future employers.
The report also mentioned Udinese Calcio’s center forward, Luis Muriel. At 22, the Colombian striker is better candidate for a long-term role at Anfield, fitting the age and cost requirements.
His impressive 11 goals in 22 Serie A fixtures (via ESPN FC) matches Tevez’s 11 in the EPL, but it took him 12 less appearances to do it.
If there is a glaring omission from this list, please feel free to add to it and let us know why they are a good fit.