Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is reportedly getting closer to signing Southampton stars Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren. The pair are key figures in Rodgers' plan to strengthen his squad ahead of participation in next season's UEFA Champions League.
A move for Lallana has been endorsed by former Liverpool ace John Barnes, per Sky Sports. Liverpool are said to have offered £25 million for the stylish playmaker.
Barnes enthused: "He is a great player. I am hoping that he can come [to Liverpool] but if he does not come, good luck to him and we [Liverpool] will move on."
The 26-year-old would certainly be a prized addition for the Merseyside club. Lallana has an eye for the type of defence-splitting pass Rodgers needs to help his pacey attacking line thrive.
Liverpool are menacing going forward thanks to the lightning speed and subtle movement of strikers Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, along with coltish winger Raheem Sterling.
The trio's explosive runs need consistent and deft supply. Often that burden falls on the gifted Philippe Coutinho. Yet while he has talent, the mercurial Brazilian is not always the most consistent.
By contrast, Lallana has been a hotspot of creative intent for Southampton during the last three seasons. His game has matured and the England international is now as technically adept as an attacking midfielder in the English Premier League.
His versatility and skill have been applauded by many this season, including Daily Mirror reporter John Cross:
Lallana can play on both flanks, is adaptable and solves the long running problem of a lack of a left sided player.
He also has an eye for goal, makes intelligent runs and can drift inside and influence the game. He is an excellent dribbler.
In my opinion, if Adam Lallana had a Brazilian nationality, a Spanish nationality, if he were another Mata, Oscar, Hazard, or any of these type of players then, for sure, he would be going with their national side. I truly believe that.
You can see that he is one of the most talented players in the English game right now. He is the type of player that is hard to find in any other English team. It is clear to anyone the talent that he has got.
The words from Cross and Pochettino are only natural, following a fantastic season for Lallana. He was a consistently productive attacking force for the Saints.
Lallana produced nine goals and six assists in the Premier League, per WhoScored.com. Those figures certainly make Lallana the type of schemer Liverpool need.
He is now determined to take a step up in his career, according to BBC Sport reporter Ben Smith:
Showcasing his skills at Champions League level would be the perfect way to do just that. That should put Liverpool, who have expressed their interest early, in pole position to land the English pass master.
But one potential stumbling block is the price. Liverpool chiefs are apparently loath to increase their hefty offer, per Liverpool Echo reporter James Pearce:
If Rodgers can strike a deal, Lallana might not be the only Saints ace to move to Anfield this summer. Rodgers has already plundered Southampton ranks to sign striker Rickie Lambert.
Defender Dejan Lovren is apparently next in the Liverpool's manager's sights. Daily Mail reporter Neil Ashton has stated that the solid centre-back has submitted a transfer request.
The Croatian stopper is apparently keen to test himself in the Champions League. Rodgers shouldn't waste any time luring Lovren to Merseyside.
Liverpool are most vulnerable in defence, where a compelling argument can be made to upgrade all four positions in front of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
Veterans Kolo Toure, Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel all endured struggles in the centre of defence last season. Meanwhile, former Paris Saint-Germain prodigy Mamadou Sakho is an imposing, but reckless athlete.
Lovren is the kind of steadying force the Reds need at the heart of their back four. Quick and aggressive, the 24-year-old is a smart defender who never shirks the physical challenges of the Premier League.
Rodgers has already plucked one of Southampton's key figures. He would be wise to revisit St. Mary's to try and capture two of its remaining leading lights.