5 Players Liverpool Should Be Scouting at the 2014 World Cup
It's nearly here, with the planet about to be engrossed with the World Cup in Brazil for the next month.
However exciting the action though, club sides can't afford to take their eye off the ball for too long, with plenty of transfer targets set to be in action in South America.
Liverpool have already been more active in the transfer market than most this summer following their captures of Rickie Lambert and Emre Can, but who should manager Brendan Rodgers be keeping his eye on in Brazil?
Here are five players who Liverpool should keep track of.
Keylor Navas (Costa Rica)
Costa Rica are stationed in a difficult Group D, but goalkeeper Keylor Navas will make it tough for Uruguay, Italy and England to beat him if he can continue his club form.
The 27-year-old impressed in La Liga for Levante in his first season as the club's undisputed No. 1, and with Rodgers claiming that he would like to bring in a goalkeeper to challenge both Simon Mignolet and Brad Jones (ESPN)—whilst assuming that Pepe Reina will eventually leave the club on a permanent deal—then the stopper could well be of interest.
Costa Rica's tough opposition may make it difficult for him to keep clean sheets, but he will doubtless be facing plenty of shots in Brazil, and that alone could be enough to help this energetic goalkeeper impress onlookers.
Mathieu Valbuena (France)
The diminutive 29-year-old Mathieu Valbuena announced back in January that he would be leaving Marseille this summer, as per Sky Sports, with Marca.com reporting that Valencia are currently at the head of the queue to sign him.
If a deal can be struck though, surely it would make sense for Liverpool to pursue a player who once scored a winning goal for Marseille in a Champions League match at Anfield in 2007.
Valbuena's experience of the competition and his style of play would fit in with the Reds' squad, and if he was available to sign cheaply, then Rodgers could certainly do worse.
Ricardo Rodriguez (Switzerland)
The Switzerland team provides a number of interesting players for clubs to watch at this World Cup, with Wolfsburg's 21-year-old left-back Ricardo Rodriguez certainly one of them.
With the deal for Alberto Moreno having reportedly stalled at the time of writing, at least according to the Daily Express, perhaps the Reds should be keeping an eye on a player who scored five times and made nine assists in the Bundesliga last season?
Rodriguez was part of the Swiss Under-17 team which won the 2009 Under-17 World Cup, and for one so young he already has an impressive collection of 21 senior international caps.
Ezequiel Garay (Argentina)
Could the answer to Liverpool's defensive woes be found in Argentina's experienced centre-back Ezequiel Garay?
Despite the notion that he's been around a lot longer, Garay is still just 27 years of age. Formerly of Real Madrid, he perhaps could be persuaded to move on from a Benfica side who experienced their latest European failure with the defeat to Sevilla in the Europa League final last month.
Expected to take his place at the heart of an Argentina defence which will be supporting one of the best attacking units in Brazil, Garay could shine.
Matthias Ginter (Germany)
Just how much game time Matthias Ginter will get for Germany over the summer remains to be seen given that he is battling the likes of Per Mertesacker and Mats Hummels for a place in the team, but the 20-year-old Freiburg centre-back is undoubtedly a talent.
A teammate of new Reds signing Emre Can for Germany's Under-21s, Ginter has picked up two senior caps for his country and looks set to win many more following his impressive campaign at club level, where he played 39 matches as Freiburg finished 14th.
Liverpool might not be able to track Ginter too closely in Brazil, but he perhaps could remain a long-term defensive target.