Liverpool have already completed their first signing of the summer with the news that Rickie Lambert put pen to paper on a deal, but they are still in talks with Southampton over what is seemingly a more critical transfer, that of Adam Lallana.
The Saints skipper was linked with the Reds almost from full-time on the final day of the 2013-14 season, but as per Tony Barrett of The Times, the deal has been held up amid reports of Southampton wanting a far greater transfer fee than the Reds are willing to pay.
While the chase for Lallana is one that will benefit the club if he joins, and he is clearly a player manager Brendan Rodgers wants to have at his disposal, the amount of other top names available for arguably better prices than Saints are trying to extort means Liverpool should move on if their Premier League rivals refuse to budge.
The Times' report states that while Liverpool upped their bid to Lallana to £25 million before the weekend, they were adamant that this would be a final figure and wanted the deal completed quickly. Southampton, however, are requiring closer to £30 million for the 26-year-old captain.
Without a manager in place, Saints are reluctant to rush into any sales of big-name players, including that of the England midfielder.
Nice touch from Southampton re Lambert while suggesting no rush to accept bids for Lallana, Shaw and others http://t.co/pYJPo9Gsf0— Andy Hunter (@AHunterGuardian) June 2, 2014
Liverpool might think Lallana fits into their system, would be a step up in terms of squad building and has been approved by both manager and committee, but the sort of money Saints are talking about would not only make him one of the most expensive signings in club history, but is also seemingly going to drag on far longer than the Reds wanted.
Shaqiri and Sanchez
Liverpool clearly don't have only Lallana in mind for the attacking midfield role: Xherdan Shaqiri has long been touted as a potential target, and Mirror Football reported that both the Reds and Manchester United have had bids rejected by Barcelona for Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez.
James Milner has also been mentioned as a target, and while the extreme Englishness of the Manchester City man won't get everybody's pulses racing, it further indicates that a) the Reds have plenty of other targets in mind if the Lallana deal isn't happening, b) versatility and work ethic will continue to be important factors in transfer targets and c) buying "only youth" isn't a barrier this summer.
Lallana is 26, Milner is 28, Sanchez turns 26 near to Christmas. These are prime-age players.
As with Lambert and the attempt with Lallana, the Reds are trying to get some significant business done nice and early in this window.
Left-back Alberto Moreno is reported to be close to signing, as per Marca, and the benefits of getting new signings in as quickly as possible are obvious, especially in a World Cup year.
The Reds will go on tour to the United States again in the summer as part of their preseason programme and Rodgers will want a number of new faces already lined up by that point.
One of those will almost assuredly be an attacking midfielder with plenty of technique and creativity about his play—but if Southampton insist on waiting and rising the price for Lallana, the Reds would be completely right to move on and look elsewhere.