Liverpool have reportedly joined the race to sign Sevilla's Europa League-winning left-back Alberto Moreno, who impressed with another stellar showing during Wednesday's showpiece final.
Brendan Rodgers will have to bat away the interest of Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Real Madrid for the £20 million defender, according to Simon Jones of the Daily Mail, who suggests Benfica's on-loan full-back Guilherme Siqueira could also be an option.
The Liverpool boss is ready to strengthen his squad ahead of a jam-packed 2014-15 season, which includes Champions League football. Rodgers' task starts from within the club, where he'll need to decide which of his current players have the quality to remain on Merseyside.
As reported by James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo, a major cull could be on the horizon:
[Iago] Aspas will be part of a cull which will include Pepe Reina, Oussama Assaidi and Sebastian Coates among others. On-loan duo Victor Moses and Aly Cissokho have already been packed off back to their parent clubs.
Pearce suggests Fabio Borini "will be given the opportunity to kick-start his Anfield career," and Luis Alberto's future is "currently undecided." It's clear Rodgers has plenty of room to improve Liverpool's fortunes and faces the challenge of adding strength-in-depth to a squad that fell just short of capturing this year's Premier League crown.
Both Moreno and Siqueira represent quality purchases, although Rodgers will need to identify exactly what he wants before swooping for either. At 21, Moreno offers a long-term solution to the left-back role, while 28-year-old Siqueira can be brought in to ensure Jon Flanagan has quality competition along his development process.
Borini's goalscoring heroics while on loan at Sunderland, which helped the club avoid relegation, ensures he is worth giving another opportunity. Unfortunately, Iago Aspas lacks the intensity to be a Liverpool player and Alberto's youth will only keep him on Merseyside for so long. As such, Rodgers needs to uncover further attacking talent.
A Liverpool scout was spotted watching Real Sociedad's Antoine Griezmann, according to Colin Harvey of the Daily Star. The versatile forward is more than capable of excelling on either flank, behind the striker or in a more advanced central role, suggesting he would be a smart fit for Rodgers' developing squad.
The Frenchman's 16 goals in 34 matches also underlines a talent who has more to give in the coming years, per WhoScored.com.
Javier Pastore was linked to the club by Metro, but the Paris-Saint Germain midfielder recently confirmed he doesn't want to leave the Parc des Princes. Speaking to Argentina's Gol de Vestuario, reported by Foot Mercato and via Ian Holyman of ESPN FC, it seems Pastore is content with a bit-part role at the Ligue 1 champions:
I'm not thinking about leaving. I'm playing and winning trophies, which I had never before managed to do during my career. Moreover, I'm at a big club. It would be difficult to leave PSG.
When I arrived in 2011, PSG had only won two titles in their history, and we have won as many again already. The team has been really well strengthened, and we hope to win as many trophies as possible.
PSG's recent inability to adhere to UEFA's financial fair play rules could see Pastore moved on, a cost-cutting decision that is unlikely to damage the team's effectiveness too much. Aside from his Champions League goal against Chelsea, Pastore has netted just once and provided a single assist all season, adding to his disappointing campaign from last year, per WhoScored.com.
With individuals expected to leave and Rodgers likely to be handed a £60 million kitty, there's no denying Liverpool can be major players in this year's summer transfer market, per David Anderson of the Mirror. World-class quality is needed to bolster the ranks that currently occupy too many so-so stars; those who are unlikely to change the course of a season with their performances.
As recently demonstrated by City, deep resources are needed to win the English title. Rodgers possesses the tactical nous, his starting XI the fearless intensity, but Liverpool's steel turns to dust when the boss is forced to deploy those on the fringe of being sold. A positive transfer window can ensure this doesn't happen again.
Liverpool face the momentous task of improving on their Premier League haul of 84 points next season. Heightened expectations and European football must also be juggled.
Rodgers has proven himself shrewd in the transfer market before—highlighted by the signings of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho—but will need to excel once more if Liverpool are to go one better and become English champions.
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