Brendan Rodgers has already begun wading through a busy summer of transfer dealings with Liverpool, but the Northern Irish manager will need to act quickly if he is to land talented playmakers Antonio Candreva and Xherdan Shaqiri.
Candreva, whose composure impressed during Italy's recent World Cup win over England, was selected for Cesare Prandelli's squad after posting an excellent season with Lazio. The 27-year-old netted 12 goals and provided six assists in 37 Serie A appearances, per WhoScored.com, where he took on a variety of roles across the midfield and forward lines.
With the interest of clubs around Europe reportedly intensifying—most notably, from Paris Saint-Germain—Lazio president Claudio Lotito has warned potential suitors off his star man, reported by Chisanga Malata of the Daily Star:
"Candreva is not for sale," said Lotito. "We have not spoken to anyone from PSG and we have not received any offers."
Lotito may be worried after Candreva was attributed quotes that question his Lazio future, per Malata:
Who should Liverpool prioritise signing?
"A player's ambitions are to do good things and to play at the best clubs and to play in the Champions League," said Candreva. "I hope to play a good World Cup, then I'll be happy about what will happen."
While Rodgers will be disappointed to see the Lazio hierarchy are ready to battle for Candreva's extended tenure, one star heading to Serie A could also alter the Liverpool manager's targets further. Shaqiri is said to be on the verge of joining Italian champions Juventus, reported by Nick Lustig of the Daily Star:
"Shaqiri's representatives have already held discussions with the Italian giants, where they confirmed he would be willing to make the switch to Turin," reads the article.
The 22-year-old made just 10 starts across the Bundesliga and Champions League with Bayern Munich last season. It's time he establishes a first-team role elsewhere, as Pep Guardiola is unlikely to suddenly deploy the Swiss international ahead of Bayern Munich's more trusted stars.
Currently on World Cup duty with Switzerland, this may be the first real opportunity many supporters have at witnessing Shaqiri play a consistent run of games. Lucas Swain of FourFourTwo suggests he must do more to impress after a hit-and-miss performance in the European side's opener against Ecuador:
Shaqiri's set-pieces have been about as useful as a chocolate teapot this game. So infuriating, especially when Drmic has been robbed.— Lucas Swain (@BundesligaLucas) June 15, 2014
Shaqiri, like Candreva, can fulfill a number of roles. Both are comfortable on either wing, delivering crosses from wide positions, and both pose a real threat when heading into central areas. Rodgers favours individuals who can work well across a variety of positions, exactly why the aforementioned pair are linked to the young manager's improving Liverpool squad.
Rodgers' main job is to dramatically galvanise the Reds' strength in depth. The added pressure of playing in next season's Champions League ensures top-quality signings need to flow, while Liverpool's heightened expectations will also need to be managed throughout the campaign. Finishing second in the Premier League will certainly attract talent, but further progress is needed to maintain it.
The arrival of Candreva or Shaqiri appears unlikely right now, but Liverpool fans will be pleased with seeing the team in the running for exciting stars. Anfield witnessed some of the domestic division's most entertaining football last season, but if the good times are to continue arriving, Rodgers has plenty of work to do.