Brendan Rodgers is expected to strengthen his Liverpool squad with a number of exciting transfers at the end of the season. Luis Muriel and Juan Iturbe are the latest names to be linked with the club ahead of what should be a busy summer for those on Merseyside.
Here we chart the latest news, quotes and details surrounding the Reds' reported targets.
Luis Muriel, Udinese
According to reports in Italy, the 22-year-old has told Udinese he wants to move to England at the end of the season – and Liverpool are now weighing up a £17million bid.
Rodgers has received glowing scout reports on his progress this term, with the Colombian continuing to score goals for fun.
Muriel possesses terrific pace and versatility and is the kind of player Rodgers loves to take under his wing. Yet despite notching four goals in 18 appearances this season, per WhoScored.com, Muriel hasn't lived up to the momentous hype many bestowed upon him.
Rodgers can take the starlet—who is more than capable of playing as a striker or in attacking midfield—and add real consistency to his game. We've seen the Northern Irishman do this with Daniel Sturridge, who was in a similar scenario when Rodgers snapped him up from Chelsea.
The Colombian forward is beginning to gain momentum, but under Rodgers, he can excel at the top level.
Juan Iturbe, Verona (on loan from Porto)
Should a deal for Muriel fail to go ahead, Juan Iturbe represents an excellent alternative for the Reds. The 20-year-old is also impressing in Serie A this season and has scored five goals in 24 appearances since joining on a loan deal from Porto.
Liverpool face competition for the Argentinian in the shape of Arsenal, Chelsea and Napoli, who are likely to compete for his permanent signature alongside Verona, who have the first option to tie him up. Napoli director Riccardo Bigon confirmed the club's interest, per David Wright of the Express:
"When it comes to Iturbe we just need to talk with Verona, as they have the option to buy him," said Bigon. "I don't hide that we are interested in him."
Iturbe has been on the radar of many for quite some time. He prefers to take a slightly wide role when attacking, cutting in from the right, although he has represented Verona on the opposite flank and in attacking midfield.
Rodgers favours individuals who can fulfill multiple roles—as highlighted during Raheem Sterling's central destruction of Manchester United—and will be attracted to Iturbe's technical prowess. He is excellent with the ball at his feet, possesses pinpoint vision and has a thunderous long shot, making him an attractive prospect across Europe.
Zakaria Bakkali, PSV Eindhoven
Getting even younger, 18-year-old Zakaria Bakkali is beginning to create quite a buzz at PSV Eindhoven. The tricky Belgian has made 19 appearances for the senior team this campaign, including four in the Europa League, per WhoScored.
Similar to Muriel and Iturbe, Rodgers is set to face a standoff for his signature. Ben Jefferson of the Express says Rodgers has "been impressed" with reports put together by his scouts, but also suggests an unnamed PSV source knows Arsenal are tracking the player.
"Bakkali is a player that Wenger rates highly," said the source. "Arsenal have kept an eye on him and are aware that other teams want him, so could move in the summer to buy him."
Real Madrid are also said to be monitoring Bakkali's progress. Carlo Ancelotti may pursue the player with increasing urgency after Jese Rodriguez was ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury, according to BBC Sport.
Bakkali is an ambitious, fearless youngster who can also play anywhere across the frontline. It seems Rodgers may opt for either him, Muriel or Iturbe, as the trio offer similar qualities and potential in the latter half of the pitch.
Marcos Rojo, Sporting Lisbon
Apart from forwards, Rodgers may also strengthen his defence with the purchase of Marcos Rojo from Sporting Lisbon, per A Bola (via Alex Richards of the Mirror):
Liverpool are running the rule over Sporting Lisbon and Argentina defender Marcos Rojo ahead of a potential summer move.
[...] However, any move for Rojo will be complicated by the fact that 75 per cent of his contract in the Portuguese capital is owned by a third-party - Investment company Doyen Sports.
Premier League rules mean that Liverpool would need to buy the player outright from both Sporting and Doyen.
The 24-year-old is a key player in Portugal and is expected to have a prominent role in Argentina's World Cup campaign. He is comfortable at left-back or in a more central position and may take over from Aly Cissokho, who could to leave at the end of the season, per Patrick Haond of Sky Sports.
Rodgers certainly has plenty of options to pursue at the culmination of the current campaign. Liverpool's likely ascension into the Champions League will not only produce greater funds but will make the club a more attractive prospect to top talents across the globe.
Although the club cannot compete with financial behemoths such as Chelsea and City, Daniel Storey of Football365 and Sky Sports highlights Rodgers' efficiency when dropping funds on a player:
The Northern Irish manager will need to replicate his ability to uncover talent—highlighted with the acquisition of players such as Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho—by landing another batch of thrilling investments during the summer months.
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