20 Players Brendan Rodgers Should Consider as Liverpool Summer Transfer Options
Liverpool have assured themselves of Champions League football next season, now able to finish no lower than third place in the Premier League this term.
That means an influx of cash, and the Reds look ready to spend, with managing director Ian Ayre confirming, as per Mirror Football, that the squad needs to be improved to cope with the additional demands that 2014-15 will bring.
The report indicates that manager Brendan Rodgers may have £60 million plus what he nets from sales to spend on new signings. With that in mind, here are 20 transfers that the boss might be considering for the summer; six outgoing players to raise funds and 14 potential targets who might provide the necessary quality in positions that need strengthening.
Goalkeeper Pepe Reina has spent the season on loan in Italy with Napoli.
By all accounts, his Anfield career is over; he penned a farewell letter to supporters upon his departure and Simon Mignolet is well established as the No. 1 these days at Liverpool.
Reina's wage is another point which Liverpool would like to have off their bill. He could perhaps raise £4-5 million, depending on the level of teams interested in him, but ideally the Reds want him gone permanently this summer, not another loan deal.
Another player out on loan is Moroccan winger Oussama Assaidi.
He has had a few spells of big impact at Stoke City but by and large has not shown anywhere near enough to contribute regularly to Liverpool's first team.
The Reds signed Assaidi for £3 million from Heerenveen; even a worst-case scenario should see them recoup that in full, though he could even fetch slightly more.
Iago Aspas has had a difficult debut campaign in England.
After starting the season in the team, the form and fitness of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge has really limited his involvement since October, and he has not been able to contribute by way of goals or creating chances in his fleeting appearances off the bench.
He is likely to be sold, probably back to Spain, and should bring in perhaps £4-5 million, less than the Reds paid for him a year ago.
Into the murky waters of first-team players now.
Everybody mainly accepts that a fit and in-form Glen Johnson is a big asset to the side; the issue is over both of those concepts, though. He's not fit for 35 or 40 games a season—Johnson has played 26 in all competitions this term—and his performances fluctuated wildly during the middle of the campaign.
Add to that his contract having one year to run, the fact he turns 30 at the start of next season and his high wages which the club wants to negotiate down, and it could be that the only option is to sell Johnson for a small fee this summer rather than lose him for nothing next year.
Keeping him until expiry is a possibility, no doubt, but it may depend on other targets.
Daniel Agger has been a mainstay of the team for years but, like Johnson, has struggled for consistency.
The Danish centre-back has played 22 games in all competitions this season, missing two separate spells due to injury, but has also been ousted from the regular 11 by the arrival of Mamadou Sakho.
Agger has his strengths and has been the Reds' best defender for a number of seasons, but his weaknesses have also been exposed too often over the past two years. It might not be a move that all parties want, but unless Agger is prepared to play second choice more often, Rodgers might opt to cash in on an in-demand player and bring in another hefty wad of cash for him.
Jose Enrique has been out of action since November, with the Reds' defence thriving at both ends of the pitch without him.
That should put an end to most discussions over whether he needs replacing or not; Jon Flanagan has been far more reliable in defence than the Spaniard was, and also contributes quicker and more frequently going forward than Jose Enrique managed to last season—in a more offensive, fluid team, too.
Apparently unwilling or unable to be coached out of his repetitive mistakes, Liverpool's No. 3 is a saleable asset who should be cashed in on, perhaps bringing in between £4-7 million, depending on demand and other available left-backs.
For what it's worth, we'll also mention at this point that neither of Liverpool's on loan players, left-back Aly Cissokho and forward Victor Moses, should be taken on as permanent deals.
Right-Back: Serge Aurier
If Liverpool are looking for an offensive right-back who has both the technique to contribute in the final third and the athleticism to maintain tactical shape at both ends of the pitch, Serge Aurier is the man to get.
The Ivory Coast full-back has had an excellent campaign with Toulouse, playing both in a central defensive role and in a very attacking wing-back position.
He has plenty of pace, is strong and isn't afraid to make things happen in the box, scoring six himself this season.
Right-Back: Mario Fernandes
A more controlled, composed option at right-back is CSKA Moscow's Mario Fernandes.
The Brazilian has missed a lot of this season with a long-term injury but is now back to fitness and already displaying the assuredness in possession and resilience in defence which is his hallmark.
At 23 years of age, he has already accrued plenty of experience in challenging for titles and would be a great foil to a more dynamic, pacy option on the opposite flank.
Left-Back: Ricardo Rodriguez
Ricardo Rodriguez is likely to be one of the most in-demand left-backs in Europe this summer after a terrific individual campaign with Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga.
The Swiss international has proven himself a more-than-capable asset to the side at both ends of the pitch, with good delivery in the final third and a rugged, committed attitude to defending.
Left-back is perhaps Liverpool's biggest need to sort out finally with genuine quality this summer; Rodriguez would be a stunning way to plug that long-standing problem.
Left-Back: Luke Shaw
Every top English side is going to be watching and weighing up the chances of signing Southampton left-back Luke Shaw, and Liverpool are no different.
Whenever he leaves, it will be for a big transfer fee, with big expectations on him to become the national team first choice and provide plenty of quality going forward.
Centre-Back: Micah Richards
Manchester City defender Micah Richards is likely to leave the club this summer after another season on the fringes of the side, and Liverpool have been linked with him for a long time.
Making the switch from the Etihad to Anfield, and right-back to centre-back, could see Richards finally fulfil his considerable potential. A powerful, athletic presence to the right of Sakho would sort out the Reds' issues with aerial balls into the box and would add pace to the back line.
Richards has an awful lot to prove. He's also got an awful lot of ability.
Centre-Back: Toby Alderweireld
Another centre-back option is one the Reds opted out of last summer, Belgian Toby Alderweireld.
He has been unable to displace Diego Godin or Miranda at Atletico Madrid this season, and though he might be more costly than he was a year ago, he is still a prodigious talent who should thrive in a side who like to play out from the back.
He'd also offer cover at full-back.
Central Midfield: Lars Bender
Central midfield is an interesting one for Liverpool; they need at least one midfielder but perhaps more, depending on how frequently they plan on using the 4-4-2 diamond system next season.
In any case, one very aggressive, pressing and protecting central midfield player would be ideal to have ahead of Steven Gerrard, who was also able to break forward in a box-to-box capacity and contribute to the Reds' fast transition play.
Step forward Lars Bender, a fantastic option from Bayer Leverkusen who could also provide cover in the holding role were Gerrard to be unavailable. He has to be the prime target.
Central Midfield: Jordy Clasie
Another who could provide a similar blend of protection, physicality and forward-thinking threat for the Reds is Jordy Clasie.
The Feyenoord midfielder can operate in a range of roles in the centre of the park, bringing an incisive quality of passing to go with his desire to win the ball in midfield.
Perhaps less domineering than Bender but also likely a less-expensive option for a player who is only 22 years of age and already a part of the Dutch national squad.
Playmaking Midfielder: Ivan Rakitic
Ivan Rakitic has shown considerable class and ability for Sevilla in La Liga this term and beforehand, playing in an advanced central midfield role more often than not.
He can, though, also feature deeper in a controlling role or from the right flank with licence to roam into space.
Rakitic would likely command a fee around the £15 million mark, having two years left on his present deal, and at 26 years of age, he is at the peak of his powers.
He would suit Liverpool's fast-paced playing style and bring a lot of creativity to the attacking midfield line.
Wide Forward: Antoine Griezmann
A top draw wide forward is almost as big a requirement for Liverpool as a left-back is, but the attacker also needs to be capable of playing centrally, whether in the No. 10 role or as a forward, due to the team's propensity to switch tactical systems.
Antonie Griezmann of Real Sociedad can play anywhere in the final third, featuring up front for his team earlier this season and most frequently from the left.
He scores, creates, can cross, runs at players and is always improving with his hard work and off the ball movement. He'd be expensive but an excellent addition to the team.
Wide Forward: Lucas Moura
Liverpool are going to have to aim very big in a few areas to compete with top sides in the Champions League and maintain their place around the top of the Premier League.
Lucas Moura is one example of a high-quality player at a big side who might well be prised away on account of lack of game time.
The Brazilian wide forward has played 31 league games for Paris Saint-German this season—but half of those appearances have been as substitute and he has only totalled 1,600 minutes of league action overall. For pace, dribbling ability and a touch of the spectacular, there probably aren't many better about.
At 21, he has years of quality ahead of him, more than enough to justify a large transfer fee.
Centre-Forward: Alexandre Lacazette
It's not entirely likely that Liverpool choose to sign an out-and-out forward this summer, given Fabio Borini will return and the Suarez and Sturridge combination already in place.
But if Rodgers decides he does need a fourth, a technical forward with good movement and goals will be the obvious requirement.
However, they would still likely need to offer versatility, too, given that the Reds often only start with one central attacker.
Alexandre Lacazette has come on plenty in the past 12 months at Olympique Lyonnais, technically and physically, and has added some semblance of consistency to his attacking play, too, scoring 14 goals this season.
He might not be a huge name star just yet, but he is the real deal and could prove both a great impact player and a starting option who doesn't compromise on quality when Sturridge or Suarez need taking out.
Wildcard Option: Hakan Calhanoglu
A bit of an all-round threat and plenty of potential for the attacking midfield area comes in the shape of Hakan Calhanoglu.
The Turkish playmaker has been a star for Hamburger SV and has already been the subject of transfer speculation, despite only recently turning 20.
Hamburg have struggled this year as a club and are in the relegation play-off zone, meaning they may need to offload one or two of their better players in the summer.
Calhanoglu can play centrally or from the left and shows great promise, though is still a little raw and individualistic at times.
The Reds will also likely sign a clutch of players who can provide benefit for the future, perhaps by way of loaning them back out initially or else having them play with the under-21s and under-18s for the coming seasons.
Will Hughes of Derby County would still make sense as a signing, though—especially if Derby win promotion—a sign-and-loan-back deal would probably be in everybody's best interests.
There are also rumours linking the Reds with Tyler Roberts and Jack Batten, as per Mirror Football, with one or two targets from abroad likely to be tempted to join Rodgers' Liverpool quest, too.