A mere two points out of a top four Premier League finish after four consecutive victories, including a monumental toppling of second-place Manchester City, Liverpool and manager Brendan Rodgers are inching closer to another Champions League qualification.
But even if the Reds fail to lock up a spot in Europe’s most heralded tournament, the back-to-back matchups against Manchester United and Arsenal serving as the biggest tests this month, recent reports speculate Rodgers will attack the transfer market as if he was building a Champions League monster.
With Mario Balotelli failing to live up to the pressure and not even starting a match since Nov. 8, on top of Daniel Sturridge’s injury, and the massive hole left following Luis Suarez’s departure to Barcelona, it’s nothing short of miraculous that the Reds have netted 42 goals this term and find themselves in fifth on the table.
Assuming Sturridge can come back to full strength next term, Rodgers can go a long way to filling the Suarez-sized hole by swooping in for Juventus striker Alvaro Morata. According to Metro, Liverpool will be in contention with Arsenal for the 21-year-old Serie A star’s services.
The Turin side, as well as Morata’s former club Real Madrid, are reportedly asking for £60 million for the ever-improving star, a price that does favor Liverpool over Arsenal given Rodgers massive spending spree last summer.
Enjoying his first year in Italy with 12 goals, the third-best total in the league, Morata could easily slide into the Reds lineup and perhaps create a tandem with Sturridge to rival Suarez from a year ago.
Balotelli’s future at Anfield could also be in doubt, with the player’s agent recently telling reporters that Rodgers has pushed the Italian harder than any other manager prior, statements that followed what’s been dubbed a cryptic if not telling post to Instagram by Balotelli following the Burnley victory.
Should Balotelli move on, Morata’s signature becomes even more important to Rodgers and Anfield officals.
However, there are other young talented strikers that could be to Rodgers’ liking. Earlier this week, The Sun reported Liverpool are lining up a £12 million bid for Villarreal striker Luciano Vietto.
Also 21, Vietto’s exploded for 18 La Liga goals this term and has the Spanish side pressing for a Champions League spot of their own in the final stretch.
The bid seems rather modest, but it could be an early figure thrown out by Liverpool and Rodgers to try and test the also-interested Real Madrid and just how high they can ratchet the price up.
Acquiring a solid striker is likely a short-term plan for Rodgers, but perhaps his most important task this summer involves finding a player worthy and talented enough to take over Steve Gerrard’s mantle.
Speculation earlier this year pegged Roma midfielder Miralem Pjanic as the possible heir, but Daily Mirror reports Sporting Lisbon’s William Carvalho could be the next best option. Roma was reportedly asking for £37 million for Pjanic, a price Liverpool has since balked at, and now attention has turned the 22-year-old Carvalho.
Arsenal and Manchester United are also intrigued by the Angola native, who’s scored 10 goals over the last four years. But Liverpool could have a greater need for Carvalho, given Gerrard’s future trek to MLS while providing some insurance if Brazilian Lucas misses more significant time due to injury.