Liverpool are reviving their interest in Dnipro winger Yevhen Konoplyanka this summer after failing to lure his services to Anfield in January, and the benefits of their Champions League credentials may already begin to show.
According to The Guardian's Jamie Jackson, Manchester United are posing heavy competition for the Ukrainian international's signature, and Dnipro sporting director Andrey Stetsenko is quoted in accepting the player's fate:
Our scouts are working to find his replacement. Sooner or later Konoplyanka will leave Dnipro. We know that English, Spanish and German clubs are monitoring the situation and are interested in the player. But we have had no offers. His contract has a buyout clause worth €15m for foreign clubs. For Ukrainian clubs the buyout is more.
Konoplyanka spoke to me and said that if he did not have offers from foreign clubs in the future it would not be a problem. He would stay with us with pleasure and continue to play for Dnipro.
In the past, the Red Devils' interest may have meant an automatic advantage in favour of the Old Trafford outfit, but as we're well aware, the landscape of English football changed dramatically over the course of 2013-14.
In fact, Eastern European football expert Artur Petrosyan says United's lack of European football next season could be the deciding factor in Liverpool's favour:
Konoplyanka: "Man United? I'd rather stay at Dnipro and play in the Champions League".— Artur Petrosyan (@arturpetrosyan) May 23, 2014
Ayre should now just get the plane and go take the lad to Merseyside. Konoplyanka has not just done, but also said enough to deserve a move.— Artur Petrosyan (@arturpetrosyan) May 23, 2014
Having lost out on the Premier League title to champions Manchester City by just a couple of points, the disappointment of second place will have left many a Liverpool fan feeling dejected this season.
Is Konoplyanka worth his £12.1 million tag?
However, in the unfamiliar ecstasy of their newly rediscovered stardom, there are those who may not have taken the time to appreciate just how impacting their return to Champions League football is and what playing personnel it gives them access to.
As Stetsenko mentions, the player's buyout clause is set at £12.1 million, which could very well prove valuable as Squawka shows Konoplyanka scored four goals and made eight scoring opportunities in just seven Europa League outings this season.
Although the likes of Fabio Borini and Suso are back on Merseyside (for now), Brendan Rodgers would be wise to target his flanks as one area in need of greater depth, and a cut-price move for Konoplyanka would fit his current needs well.
As they look to move on from England's runners-up place and into top spot, Liverpool are in need of improvement in key areas of the pitch, but it's vital the club don't slip into their not-yet-ancient trend of splurging in excess.
As such, deals like this, representing affordable quality, would be wisely snapped up.