Liverpool's transfer chases of the season just finished were an ongoing storyline of public knowledge, public excitement and, ultimately, public failure.
Diego Costa, Yevhen Konoplyanka, Mohamed Salah, Willian, Henrikh Mkhitaryan were among those linked with a move to Anfield. Expert opinions were quickly formed over who was "worth" the money being offered, as each transfer window played out amid huffing and puffing that deals weren't getting sealed quickly enough.
The outcome to each was the same: No Champions League football, no signing.
Whether they stayed at their original clubs or moved on, top-level competition was a familiar and recurring theme.
So Liverpool went and qualified for the competition without them.
This summer, the fans are told, things will be different. But how different? How much are the owners, the board and the transfer committee willing to deviate from what has become their MO?
Brendan Rodgers confirmed, per the Liverpool Echo, that he has the final say on who comes into the club, though Ian Ayre, Dave Fallows and Michael Edwards are also all involved in the process. The boss identifies and gives the final nod of approval, but the others have the responsibility in between.
Previous transfers haven't only broken down because of Champions League football, or lack thereof, but also because of wage demands, taking too long to get deals completed or clubs becoming irked with the payment terms requested by Liverpool.
Not that he's a deal which the Reds mind having missed out on now, but at the time, there was a split among supporters over the Gylfi Sigurdsson deal—some wanted him to be paid more money to sign, some were glad the Reds put their foot down and refused to overpay.
In the current transfer window, the same situation is apparently on the cards with Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Emre Can.
A talented and versatile young German, Can's deal has other complications to negotiate too—a buyback clause with Bayern Munich, for one—but the £10 million release clause is appealing for a promising player with much potential. Whether he immediately makes Liverpool a better side or merely adds to the depth of the squad is a different matter. However, as reported by James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo, Can is requesting a larger wage than has so far been put on the table by the Reds.
Do Liverpool wait it out and risk other parties becoming involved? Do they stand firm and risk losing him, as with Sigurdsson? Do they agree to up their offer and risk future targets demanding more too?
Decisions must be made, if they haven't been already, about just how critical each player might be to the 2014-15 campaign, and judged if they are worth the extra outlay. Yes, clubs should have an idea of a ceiling or limit over how much each deal is valued at, but if the gap is relatively small—compared to the £97 million TV/prize money revenue brought in this season, or the cash from next term's Champions League campaign—and the player extremely important, that ceiling perhaps needs to be a movable one.
There are far more facets and areas of any single transfer to negotiate than any fan might ever hear about, but even so, every rumour, name, deal and whatever else seems to be in the papers, on the web and discussed ad nauseum on Twitter before long.
Which makes one more change this summer, the absence of one particular saga, all the more refreshing and one that should offer an immense amount of satisfaction and hope for supporters: Luis Suarez leaving Liverpool.
Sure, there were a couple of half-hearted murmurings as soon as the campaign ended, but even they were ignored, dismissed and forgotten.
A summer without constant speculation over the future of one of the top three or four players in world football would be an amazing thing for Liverpool, and an indication of just how far the club—and Suarez himself, for that matter—has come. He's an integral part of a team, but the team allows him to perform as few others might.
There remains an awfully long summer ahead and not all targets will be captured by the committee, but some will. Liverpool should press to make a handful of extraordinary signings and perhaps seal a couple. That would be great progress.
But the biggest transfer deal of the summer might turn out to be not even having to try and convince Suarez that he should remain a Red; that, in fact, it's simply a given that he will continue with the club as they build around him.