Brendan Rodgers expects Liverpool to line up against Southampton on the opening day of the 2014-15 season with three former Saints players in their side, according to reports.
The Northern Irishman is said to be confident of signing both Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren, completing a hat-trick of acquisitions from St. Mary's after Rickie Lambert made the move north prior to the World Cup. David Maddock of the Mirror explains the latest situation:
Manager Rodgers wants a double deal for Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren—even though negotiations are deadlocked.
[...] Southampton are demanding £30million for Lambert's fellow England World Cup squad member Lallana, despite indicating to the player they would allow him to leave for around £20m—which is close to Liverpool’s limit.
[...] The Liverpool boss believes he will have a trio of former Saints players to choose against Southampton on the opening weekend, but is resigned to talks dragging all the way to the end of August if necessary.
Maddock also indicates Rodgers "is even prepared" to utilise Fabio Borini in a part-exchange for Lallana, while Southampton are "digging their heels in over Lovren." There's certainly plenty of work to be done if either are to follow Lambert's route to Anfield, especially after Saints chief executive Les Reed said he believes Lallana owes the club "a little bit longer," reported by BBC South Today and via ESPN.
Mike Whalley of ESPN FC confirms Rodgers is "refusing to give up" on Lallana, who still appears to be the main area of interest for the Merseyside club.
Losing Mauricio Pochettino was a major blow to Southampton, and Kevin Palmer of the Sunday World believes the new Saints boss has a No. 1 priority to be getting on with:
Which signing would be more important for Liverpool?
Southampton's hard work and gradual building process is certainly in danger of falling apart. Lambert's departure provides Liverpool with an alternate attacking option, an old-fashioned centre-forward to muck in alongside the more stylish output of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, but Lallana and Lovren could become key starters at the club.
Lallana is in the Rodgers mould. He can slot in across the midfield and even play in a more attacking position from wide, where his control, creativity and confidence allows him to dictate by taking control of possession. The 26-year-old can make things happen or slow the game down, lessening pressure on his teammates by passing and moving into space.
Lovren has settled at centre-back after a tough time with Lyon. He'd offer an excellent alternative to Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho, providing Liverpool with three quality centre-backs to battle alongside Daniel Agger, when the Dane is fit.
Although it may be emotional for both sides if Lambert, Lallana and Lovren line up against their former team on the opening day, all three are professional enough to work beyond a difficult situation with composed performances. Liverpool are one of the teams to beat next season as a result of their stunning 2013-14 campaign, meaning they need a strong start.
Rodgers is looking at the right type of talent who will help improve the squad as Liverpool prepare to face the might of the Champions League once more. Lambert was a smart piece of cheap business, while Lallana and Lovren are sure to be all the more expensive for a bigger output on the pitch.
The unfinished deals are likely to roll on across the summer as Southampton try to batten down all escape routes in what could be a devastating few weeks for the club.