Liverpool's season stands on the brink of major disappointment—a stunning thought considering the Merseyside club are currently second in the Premier League—as Manchester City fired themselves two points clear with a game to go during their 4-0 hammering of Aston Villa.
Brendan Rodgers needs to make vital improvements to his squad but will also be wary of losing key players during the summer. With a busy schedule approaching in 2014-15, including a stint in the Champions League, the squad needs to continue its evolution.
Reports suggest Dani Parejo and Steven Caulker are among the names who could be brought in. On the flip side, the future of Luis Suarez is also back in the news. Here, we provide the latest details on all three.
Latest on Liverpool's Potential Transfer Activity
In: Dani Parejo, Valencia
Rodgers' reported interest in Parejo began to circulate two months ago, as noted by Nick Lustig of the Daily Star. It was said the Reds boss "faces a difficult task" to coax Valencia into letting the Spanish midfielder leave, a notion that talkSPORT also agrees with during a recent article surrounding the player's potential Anfield switch:
Atletico Madrid considered making a move for him last year and sources in Spain claim that manager Diego Simeone is now expected to return for him this summer.
Valencia regard the former Real Madrid man as an indispensable first-team player, but the matter could be out of their hands if Liverpool or Atletico activate his £20.5m release clause fee.
Liverpool are likely to have in the region of £60 million to spend, reported by David Anderson of the Mirror. Parejo's qualities suit Rodgers' style—his passing, dribbling skills and work rate would be welcome at the club—but it seems Liverpool will have to pay top dollar for his services, something the board failed to initiate during the Mohamed Salah transfer saga.
In: Steven Caulker, Cardiff City
Steven Caulker joins David Marshall and Gary Medel in a trio of Cardiff players who didn't deserve to be relegated. The English defender, whose leadership skills have developed significantly in Wales, could be the answer to Rodgers' leaky defence.
Simon Jones of the Daily Mail believes Caulker has a relegation clause in his contract: a stipulation that has drawn interest from Liverpool and Southampton. Even so, Caulker indicated he is happy to play in the Championship, saying, he is "looking to get us back promoted next season."
Liverpool's defence undoubtedly needs strengthening and is the primary reason for the side's collapse. Martin Skrtel, Mamadou Sakho and Glen Johnson played lazily during Crystal Palace's comeback from 3-0 down on Monday, indicating further problems will arise in the Champions League.
Out: Luis Suarez
It's hard to think where Liverpool would be without Suarez's 31 goals this season. Although the reality of him moving on may be delayed due to the club's recent success and upcoming stint in Europe's top competition, the Uruguayan striker has admitted he wishes to return to Ajax one day, per an alternate Jones report:
I've always said on one day I will return at Ajax. Even if the manager doesn't want me, I'll go. For sure!
Ajax was a very important step in my life. My wife Sofia and I are crazy about Amsterdam and the lifestyle, the respect from and for everyone. We had a happy life and could live there in peace. We walked a lot through Amsterdam.
Suarez also named the Dutch champions his "ideal club," saying this is where he learned to use both feet. While Suarez is unlikely to choose Ajax over Liverpool—or indeed Real Madrid, per Martha Kelner of the Daily Mail—during the peak of his career, his love for the club may become an issue later down the line.
At 27 years old, Suarez is the star man Liverpool can build their transitioning side around. Although the threat from Ajax is distant, Rodgers will hope the striker's willingness to discuss other clubs doesn't promote a summer bid from a more realistic suitor.
Liverpool's next season will be defined by whether Rodgers can keep his main stars together. Holding on to influential individuals is just as important as bringing in fresh blood. While players such as Parejo and Caulker can progress Liverpool's chances of success, Rodgers' quest for silverware will largely depend on those who put the side within touching distance of this year's title.