Liverpool will be looking to strengthen over the summer with a Champions League campaign to come next season and the hope of going one better than their second place in the Premier league this term.
The Reds squandered the opportunity of claiming a first league title since 1990 when they lost 2-0 to Chelsea and threw away a three-goal lead in the final 11 minutes against Crystal Palace to eventually draw 3-3.
Both of these results toward the end of the season meant Liverpool lost control of the league which Manchester City eventually won, and they also pointed to their defensive deficiencies, highlighted by this Opta stat.
50 - Liverpool have conceded 50+ goals in a 38-game top-flight season for the first time since 1914-15. Leaky.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 11, 2014
Thus, Brendan Rodgers will be looking to shore up his back line over the summer as well as bring in further back-up in all areas, which will be required with his side fighting on both domestic and European fronts.
Richards on the Way Out
Manchester City right-back Micah Richards has indicated that he may be looking to move on from the Etihad after not making enough appearances this season to even qualify for a Premier League medal.
He is reported in Wheeler's piece as saying:
I’m proud for the boys but gutted I didn’t qualify for an actual medal. We’ll see what happens now. I’ll take the summer to think over things. I’ve been here 11 years and I’ve enjoyed every minute.
I’m sure a lot of people hope I stay but when your games are limited sometimes you have to do what’s best for your career. I need to address that.
While Liverpool already have a quality right-back in Glen Johnson, Richards may look an attractive signing as he is versatile and can play in the centre of the back four as well.
Furthermore, with Champions League games to factor in next season, Johnson will not be able to play every game, and Richards would provide solid, experienced cover.
He provides a terrific mix of great experience while still being a very young man, and he is a strong and powerful player.
He would prove a decent signing for Liverpool, which desperately need to strengthen at the back to avoid being blown away in Europe next season.
Coming and Going in Midfield
While Rodgers will be looking for players to bring in over the summer, there will no doubt be several departures from Anfield as a squad reshuffle takes place.
One man who is potentially leaving is Lucas Leiva who has not had a great deal of playing time this season thanks to Steven Gerrard dropping to a deeper-lying role in midfield.
Richard Jolly of ESPN FC reports that the Brazilian feels his career is stalling at Liverpool:
Lucas is considering leaving Liverpool after losing his place in the second half of this season, a source told ESPN FC. [...]
The 27-year-old is pessimistic about his chances of reclaiming his spot in the team and was disappointed to lose his place in the Brazil squad.
A potential replacement for Lucas were he to depart in the summer may well be in the shape of former Arsenal man Alex Song.
The 26-year-old is set to be sold by Barcelona after only two years at the club and is reportedly being monitored by Liverpool and Manchester United, which both have designs on signing him for £8 million, per Darren Lewis and Alan Nixon of The Mirror.
Song said back in March that he would welcome a return to the Premier League, per The Mirror's report:
"If I leave Barcelona it will be to return to the Premier League," he said. "I will return to England one day, that’s for sure."
If Lucas is indeed on the way out, the Cameroonian would be an ideal signing for Liverpool to provide back-up and a long-term replacement for Gerrard.
The England captain had one of his best seasons yet in 2013-14, as this Squawka stat shows:
Steven Gerrard now has more Premier League assists this season (13) than any other player.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 11, 2014
But, at nearly 34 years old, he cannot be expected to maintain this form, and Liverpool need to plan for the future.
Song was a key player for Arsenal in the Premier League and would be an additional line of defence for Liverpool next season.
Who should Liverpool sign?
There is no doubt that in the shape of Daniel Sturridge, Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool have attacking ability.
Players like Richards and Song would be terrific additions to complement that attacking prowess with strength in defence.
With both likely to be very reasonably priced when it comes to fees and wages, Rodgers could do a lot worse than put them both on his summer shopping list.