Liverpool’s scintillating victory over Arsenal last weekend and subsequent emergence as potential contender for the Premier League title has erased much of the memories of what was ultimately a disappointing January transfer window for the club. Liverpool failed to attain their two main targets, with first Mohamed Salah being poached by Chelsea and then Yevhen Konoplyanka being prevented from joining from Dnipro on deadline day despite his release clause having apparently been met.
Despite Liverpool’s fine form, manager Brendan Rodgers will be under no illusions about the need to bolster his squad in the summer, regardless of whether or not a coveted top-four berth is secured. If there is a return to the Champions League for the Merseysiders, though, then it will be significantly easier to attain more high-profile targets.
A place in the Champions League could certainly help them in their reported attempts to sign Porto midfielder Fernando. There was much speculation over the 26-year-old last month, with Manchester City failing in an attempt to sign both he and Porto teammate Eliaquim Mangala on deadline day. With his contract expiring in the summer, there is thought to still be much interest in his services.
The Daily Star has claimed that City are the player’s preferred destination, although Liverpool, Manchester United and Juventus are also keen. Fernando was born in Brazil, but recently gained Portuguese citizenship, meaning that a work permit would not be an issue in a possible move to England.
According to reports in Italy, there could also be much competition for another midfielder linked with a move to Anfield, Udinese’s Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu. The 23-year-old Ghana international, who was thought to be under consideration by Liverpool in January, is now said to also be on the radars of Arsenal and Tottenham.
Like Fernando, Agyemang-Badu could add a combative element to Liverpool’s midfield that currently only Lucas Leiva provides. On occasions this season, even with Lucas in the side, Liverpool have looked a little lightweight in the middle of the pitch. It is an area that Rodgers would appear likely to address in the summer.
It was during the last close season that Rodgers made the bold move to bring in Simon Mignolet as goalkeeper to usurp the club’s long-time stalwart between the sticks, Pepe Reina. It was thought at the time that Reina would move to Barcelona, but, with Victor Valdes staying on at the Camp Nou for an extra year, Reina was left in limbo before eventually going on a season-long loan to Napoli.
With Mignolet having settled in well at Anfield and German goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen seemingly the probable candidate to replace Valdes at Barcelona, there is again uncertainty over Reina’s future. The Spain international appears to have no more insight on his next move than anyone else.
"I don't know where I'll be next year, but my plan is to enjoy this season and do a good job,” Reina told Spanish sports daily Marca. “Then I'll have to go to Liverpool and make a decision. They have to explain to me what their intentions are, but I'm not currently up to speed on all of the possible offers which might come in, because that's a job for my agent. My future is here, in Italy, and we'll see what happens in June.”