No Premier League team has exceeded expectations quite like Liverpool in the 2013-14 season, as the Reds find themselves in the thick of the title race with five matches left to play.
Brendan Rodgers has done a phenomenal job building a young, talented squad since taking over the reins at the club two years ago. With the added funds Champions League qualification automatically brings, the Reds are in prime position to add talent in the coming summer transfer window.
Let's take a look at some of the biggest names currently being linked with a move to Anfield.
The Argentinian midfielder has struggled since making the move from the Italian Serie A to Paris Saint-Germain, failing to secure a regular place in Les Bleus' midfield.
With only 12 league starts all season and Goal.com's Romeo Agresti reporting that PSG are interested in bringing in even more midfield competition in the form of Juventus' Paul Pogba, it seemed only logical Pastore would already be thinking of his next club.
But speaking to French newspaper to Le Parisien (h/t Metro), Pastore's agent, Marco Simonian, made it very clear his client is happy in Paris and has no intention of leaving his current club:
He feels good with his team-mates and the staff and works every day to keep playing for PSG. He thinks only of PSG, and I can assure you that this is the truth.
Pastore's lack of consistent playing time will hurt him during the upcoming World Cup, as the Argentinians are amongst the favourites to take home the trophy and won't have any use for a part-time player.
A disappointing amount of playing time during said World Cup would be more than enough motivation for Pastore to still demand a move away from the Parc des Princes this summer, with Liverpool cited as a potential landing spot.
The Reds could use a talented distributor in midfield as captain Steven Gerrard nears retirement, and while Pastore has done little to suggest he would be capable of replacing the legendary midfielder, his limited amount of playing time would suggest PSG would be willing to deal him at a reduced rate.
Given the amount of talent he showed at Palermo—the video should be proof enough of that—Pastore could return to the form he displayed prior to moving to the French capital if given consistent playing time.
The left-back is another player struggling for playing time, as Real Madrid have preferred to give minutes to Brazilian wing-back Marcelo, who has thrived in 2013-14.
However, the Portuguese defender is still a top-notch player, and Liverpool's reported interest is understandable.
The Mirror's Tom Hopkinson claims the Reds currently lead the race for Coentrao's signature, even suggesting Rodgers has been in contact with the player's agent and that "talks are well down the line."
With a reported asking price of around £11 million, Coentrao would be an absolute steal for the Reds, who could move current left-back Jon Flanagan over to the right wing to continue giving the talented youngster playing time.
Within Rodgers' variation of the 4-3-3, the wing-back position carries a lot of weight, and while Glen Johnson has been solid this season, Coentrao's impact would far outweigh anything the English international has to offer.
His blend of athleticism moving forward and defensive proficiency is rare, particularly in players only costing £11 million.
If the news that the player is already on the verge of joining the Reds is true, Liverpool would be committing highway robbery before the transfer window even opens.
The Serbian winger has been a longtime transfer target for EPL rivals Chelsea—The Daily Mail's Jack Gaughan even reported the Blues have a first option on the Benfica man. But The Mirror's Alan Nixon is now reporting Liverpool are looking to make a move of their own for the highly touted youngster.
As Gaughan wrote, any move for Markovic would be complicated by the fact that the Serb has a large release clause in his contract that would reportedly not apply to Chelsea:
They were interested in landing Markovic last summer before the midfielder moved to Portugal. The strong relationship with Benfica, and a desire to be kept in the loop, saw Chelsea strike a deal with the buying club that secured a first option. [...]
Markovic is reported to have a huge release in his five-year contract at the Stadium of Light, but Chelsea can snap him up for as little as £12.5million.
I recently made the case for the youngster to pick the Reds over Chelsea, as the Blues simply have too much talent at the midfield position to give Markovic the opportunity to fully blossom in the next few years.
With his blend of pace, technical ability and defensive work rate, Markovic would be an immediate hit at Anfield.
Despite the reportedly large release clause, don't be surprised if Brendan Rodgers at least attempts to make a move for the midfielder.
With that said, Chelsea have been linked with the Serb for such a long time now, and as Chelsea Transfer Gossip noted—citing the Sunday People—it seems almost inevitable Markovic will join the Blues at some point:
Nevertheless, you have to like Rodgers' aggressiveness in going after a player who has been linked so strongly with an EPL superpower, indicating that the Reds no longer see themselves as being a step below the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City in terms of transfer destinations.
If Rodgers is willing to go after a player like Markovic, there's no limit to whom the Reds will bid for. It looks like this summer transfer window will be a very interesting one for Liverpool fans.