Liverpool's magical 2013-14 season will end with their first trip to the UEFA Champions League since 2010 and a possible Premier League title, but Brendan Rodgers and company are already preparing to do even better next year.
With just three matches left to play, scouts are gearing up for the madness of the summer transfer window, and the added funds of European football will ensure a lot of activity at Anfield in the next few months.
Let's take a look at the latest news surrounding two of the players currently being linked with the Reds.
The Mexican stopper has been playing for French outfit Ajaccio for the last three seasons and will be a free agent this summer, and as reported by Express' David Wright, he won't rule out a move to the Premier League.
The player was quoted, saying:
I am evaluating several offers from different countries.
I have been in France for three years and I like the way in which this league has evolved, but I would also want to try elsewhere.
My agent is dealing with everything and I do not exclude a future in Italy and England.
Liverpool's reported interest in an experienced, veteran keeper is understandable, as first-choice stopper Simon Mignolet has struggled during much of the season. His blunder on Saturday against Norwich City nearly cost the team three points and potentially the league title.
Former Reds stopper Bruce Grobbelaar was critical of the Belgium international's performances this past season, as shared by the Mirror's John Cross, and that was before Saturday's mediocre performance:
Mignolet is a good shot-stopper, but by no means the best all-round keeper.
A keeper should never be beaten – as he has been – by a header from three yards out. The keeper coach has to work him harder and he can improve a lot, of course he can.
Another reason I look at Mignolet is the number of goals he’s conceded. Any team which concedes that number of goals should not be top of the league.
You compare that to the number of goals Petr Cech has conceded at Chelsea and that tells you the difference. Any good team starts from the back.
Mignolet alternates between making brilliant reflex saves and dumb errors any top keeper should avoid, but in his first season playing for a top club like Liverpool, perhaps some sloppy play was to be expected.
Many clubs have tried pushing their struggling starters by bringing in some competition in the past, and it usually ends in disaster.
Keepers need to feel confident, especially ones that are as new to playing at the top as Mignolet is. Bringing in a potential replacement is a good way of losing his good will altogether, and at 28 years of age and with no experience playing in a top league, Ochoa doesn't look like a potential star anyway.
David De Gea's first season playing for Manchester United was a small disaster, and being replaced by Anders Lindegaard didn't help. It was only after the Danish stopper got injured that De Gea was able to fully assert himself as the unquestioned starter, and the Spanish keeper is now considered to be one of the top players at his position in the entire league.
Pepe Reina is currently not playing at the club for similar reasons, and if Rodgers felt the need to move the Spaniard to make way for Mignolet, why would he then turn around and put pressure on the Belgian with someone like Ochoa?
Yes, the Mexican wouldn't demand a significant transfer fee, and having a strong backup in goal is never a bad thing. But for his faults, Mignolet has made several big stops this season that could prove vital in the title race. He has earned his spot in goal next season.
If he fails to improve next year, it might be time to look at bringing in some competition, but one season would be too little time for the Belgian to find his place in such a star-studded squad.
Barcelona's nightmare season could realistically conclude with the team not winning any silverware for the first time in six years and a bit of an exodus in the summer, providing FIFA's transfer ban is either lifted in time or the club's appeal pushes the start of such a ban beyond this summer.
Per Barcastuff, even the club themselves don't expect the appeal to be ultimately successful:
Tello is one of the players rumoured to be on the chopping block, and the Mirror's John Cross believes a £12 million move to Liverpool could be on the books if the Blaugrana successfully beat the transfer ban.
The winger would be part of a massive amount of sales the club are planning, per Barcastuff:
And that's where the problem lies. According to Cross, the Reds have been unsuccessfully chasing Tello for two years now, as the 22-year-old was very highly thought of by his current club and was seen as part of the long-term future of the Catalan giants.
But Tello has seen his playing time shrink since the arrival of Neymar and even spoke out in the media following January's transfer period, per Express' Ben Jefferson:
I am content at Barcelona but we still have not advanced in the negotiation deal.
It is normal that I desire more minutes in the team. I want to profit on my opportunities this season.
I do not need to demonstrate anything on the pitch because the coach knows how I am at this club.
Despite this strong message, the club has still only given him two starts all season, per WhoScored.com, indicating they both have no intention of developing him long term and don't value him enough that they would believe he could contribute to the club winning today.
A reported transfer fee of £12 million isn't the largest of obstacles, but Rodgers needs to be asking himself why the player would suddenly become available, especially with a potential transfer ban restricting Barcelona's movement on the transfer market for two consecutive windows.
Why would the club want to move a player if there was a very realistic chance it would be impossible to find a suitable replacement?
Liverpool are about to rejoin the elite ranks of European football, and new arrivals should be valued accordingly. A player like Antoine Griezmann would seem like a far better fit out on the wing and would provide the Reds with far more long-term upside.
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