After Liverpool missed out on the Premier League title by the narrowest of margins, speculation has been rife as to how they will strengthen their squad this summer.
Reds manager Brendan Rodgers has not been tight-lipped on the subject, but he has avoided divulging names of targets he may have in mind. He has preferred to outline general plans for his transfer policy, and types of player he may be interested in.
One thing the Northern Irishman is keen to point out is that he does not envisage a total reworking of his squad. He told Liverpool's official website:
I don't want to put a figure on how many but I would rather have one or two absolute top players than seven that might not help us.
It's about the quality. We can't be going into the Champions League this year with doubts about players.
We have to be going in knowing what the players' capacity to play is and their capabilities.
After watching the Premier League season come to a close, most would agree that Liverpool's prime objective should be to strengthen their defence. If just one or two players were to join, then that is the area to expect them.
Rodgers has refused to pin down what position he is looking to fill though. He has preferred to describe the attributes he looks for in a player and that new signings will ideally be versatile enough to play in a number of positions.
Speaking in a press conference after Liverpool's friendly with Shamrock Rovers, per Carl Markham of The Independent, Rodgers said:
Our criteria that we look for is players with strong technique and football intelligence. They need to mentally have the attitude and the capacity to learn and they have to be so hungry to fight for every ball on every day in training and in the game.
You'll get some players who are specialists and who need to play in particular positions, but if we can get players in who are multi-functional, and can play in different roles and are multi-dimensional in their work, it sets us up and gives me more options as a coach.
We've developed tactically over the last couple of years.
Our style has been the same, but the structure of the team has changed a number of times in order to fit the needs of the games and to give problems to the opponent.
In order to do that, you need players with the capacity to be tactically intelligent. It also allows you to keep your squad smaller and tighter.
Whilst remaining purposefully vague on the specific players he intends to bring in, the Reds boss has made clear that he wants deals done quickly, prior to the World Cup. He told Liverpool's website:
Ideally you would want to get things done beforehand but it is difficult because transfers are so complex.
The World Cup does make it difficult but the club and ourselves have been preparing for quite a few months now so we will try and get the business done as early as we can.
One player that has been strongly linked with the Reds is Southampton's Adam Lallana. Liverpool are believed to have made an offer for the England man, and he is pushing for the move to Anfield, per James Dickenson for the Daily Express.
Southampton have proved steadfast in the past over their own players, but if Lallana declares that he wants to leave, then it seems more than likely he will. Rodgers could not be drawn on the matter, per ESPN: "Adam is a terrific young talent... there is always speculation about young talent."
Another name that has been linked with Liverpool, per James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo, is Sevilla's Alberto Moreno. The 21-year-old left-back lifted the Europa League trophy on Wednesday night and is likely to cost £15 million or more.
Left-back does appear to be the position that needs filling most urgently by Rodgers, though, so an expensive outlay would not be a surprise.
The key news for Liverpool fans this summer may not be who they bring in, but if they can avoid selling Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan boosted hopes of a stay at Anfield when he denied reports that a clause in his contract allowed him to leave for Real Madrid or Barcelona.
Per Richard Beech for Daily Mirror, Suarez, speaking at an 888 poker event, said:
I don't want to answer that. I try to avoid press speculation.
I know what I want and what my agent says is good for me, but I don't want to comment on speculation.
I didn't sign any contract with clauses prioritising a certain team.
The future of the Premier League top scorer is set to be one of the talking points of the summer. Undoubtedly, Rodgers' best piece of business would be to keep him at the club.
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