Liverpool's hopes of capturing Alexis Sanchez were dented after Juventus sporting director Giuseppe Marotta confirmed the Italian champions "would love" to sign the Barcelona forward, as reported by Marca:
We want him. He's a top player who has proven his worth at Barcelona and all the big clubs would be happy to have him on their books. I'm not going to hide the fact that Juve would love to have a player like him.
Similarly, Brendan Rodgers may need to look beyond the midfield talents of Sevilla's Ivan Rakitic, who "is going to renew his contract," per Marca. These quotes come from Monchi, the Europa League champions' sporting director:
I'm convinced that he will be at Sevilla for a long time. The whirlwind fixture pile-up has delayed his contract renewal, but the club is not in the least bit worried. I speak to him every day and I know what he wants. He is going to renew his contract, and if he renews it, he's not then going to leave after a week. If he renews it, it's to stay. I can't see a scenario with him leaving.
Liverpool were linked to Sanchez by Paul Hetherington of the Daily Star, while Paul Gorst of the Mirror previously suggested the Reds could be in for Rakitic. Both La Liga stars are coming off the back of tremendous seasons and would certainly add world-class quality to Rodgers' developing squad.
Despite Barcelona's failure to win a trophy this year, Sanchez posted an excellent run of 19 goals in 34 league games, per WhoScored.com. The 25-year-old's pace and incisiveness have emerged as key weapons for the Blaugrana and would certainly aid Rodgers' ambitious attacking style at Anfield.
Which player would improve Liverpool the most?
Rakitic, although more measured than the Chilean, possesses the passing quality to send Liverpool's strikers away on sweeping counter-attacks.
He is a strong tackler and patrols the centre with intent, although Rodgers' use of the player would be interesting. Perhaps the Northern Irishman wishes to limit Steven Gerrard's role after the World Cup, or maybe he is looking to find Jordan Henderson some top-quality competition. Either way, Rakitic is not the type of player who would willingly sit on the bench.
The Croat can play on either side of the central midfield line and possesses a creative spark that can be just as deadly as Sanchez's runs. Rakitic racked up 12 goals and 10 assists in La Liga—including a double against Real Madrid—while also playing a significant role in the club's run to Europa League glory.
OptaJose highlighted Rakitic's domestic brilliance with a key stat:
22 - G. Bale (15G and 12A) is the only La Liga midfielder to have participated in more goals this term than Rakitic (12G and 10A). Ovation.— OptaJose (@OptaJose) May 18, 2014
Rik Sharma of MailOnline Sport posted comments from Rakitic after the European triumph in which he appeared disinterested with reports:
Asked if he was leaving Rakitic replied (in Spanish): "15 people have asked me this question already. Just let me enjoy my special day."— Rik Sharma (@riksharma_) May 14, 2014
While both players may escape Liverpool's grasp, it's encouraging to see Rodgers linked with genuine world-class quality. The Merseyside squad is still improving and features a decent mix of experience alongside younger talent, but greater strength in depth is needed if Liverpool are to compete across the Premier League and Europe.
Both Sanchez and Rakitic can improve any side in England. Their futures are sure to continue making headlines throughout the summer, but should either become available, Rodgers would be wise to break the bank in order to assert Liverpool's intent during an important transfer window for the club.