Schalke have denied that Liverpool have made an offer for their Greece international center-back Kyriakos Papadopoulos, as speculation suggests that the Merseyside club are stepping up their interest. The 21-year-old has been seen as Brendan Rodgers’s leading target to strengthen his defense this summer but there has been little progress on a deal. One stumbling block is thought to be that Papadopoulos is only just recovering from a serious knee injury that has ruled him out of action since last November.

But, with reports that Martin Skrtel could be loaned out to Napoli, the Daily Mail believes that a £13 million move could be in the process of being lined up. Schalke, though, are focused on getting the player back fit and involved in first-team action.

“There is no truth to those rumors,” general manager Horst Heldt told Revier Sport. “There is no offer for Papadopoulos, either from Liverpool or any other club. The opposite. We are delighted that ‘Papa’ is making such progress after his knee injury and he will hopefully be an option for us again soon. He is in our plans.”

At the same time, Heldt far from ruled out the idea of the player eventually moving on in the current transfer window. “If we receive an offer, we will sit down with a player and make a decision,” he added. “That’s how we handle it with all of our players.”

Liverpool have also been strongly linked with Sporting Lisbon’s Tiago Ilori. The Reds could have to act fast, though, with Tottenham now said to be expressing an interest in the 20-year-old, reports the Daily Mail. Spurs interest would make sense given that they have just sold fellow center-back Steven Caulker to Cardiff.  

While Rodgers has not expressed a desire to sign a central defender, he has made it known that he wants a left-back to compete with Jose Enrique. And various publications are now reporting that Rodgers has set his sights on Benfica’s Paraguay international Lorenzo Melgarejo. It is thought that Liverpool are keen to take the 22-year-old on a season-long loan with a view to a permanent deal.

Melgarejo joined Benfica from Pacos de Ferreira last summer and was converted from a wide midfielder to a full-back. Perhaps unsurprisingly given that conversion, doubts still persist about his defensive acumen.

Rodgers has also admitted that he wants to increase his options going forward. According to Spanish sports daily Marca. Rubin Kazan’s Salomon Rondon is on Liverpool’s radar. The Venezuela striker left Malaga in the La Liga club’s cost-cutting exercise 12 months ago for just under €10 million (£8.8m). With Rondon having enjoyed a mixed bag of things during his first season in Russia, Rubin Kazan is not thought to be completely opposed to the idea of the 23-year-old leaving but they would seek to recoup at least break even on him.

A powerful and pacey striker, Rondon would certainly give Liverpool an extra option up front, whether or not Luis Suarez remains at Anfield. Borussia Dortmund are also said to be interested.

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