BUYOUT CLAUSE LAYS GROUNDWORK FOR SUMMER SUAREZ EXIT
Liverpool surprised some by sealing a new contract for Luis Suarez earlier in December. While the deal looks set to ensure that the in-form forward will stick around in January to spearhead their charge for a return to the Champions League, his future beyond that remains a source of serious doubt.
As exclusively revealed by sportmasta, the Uruguayan's new terms include a buyout clause in the region of €75 million, which can only be triggered by clubs outside of England.
It is the direct result of Suarez's determined desire to play Champions League football next season, whether it be for the Reds or anyone else who can provide it. For Liverpool, it provides assurances that Premier League rivals cannot force a deal against their wishes.
Real Madrid are by far the most likely destination. As Goal revealed, the Spanish giants have made Suarez their No.1 transfer target for 2014 and intend to spare no expense to get their man.
The striker had his head turned last summer by los Blancos' interest and would welcome it again should Brendan Rodgers's side miss out on the top four, which skipper Steven Gerrard admits is likely to be the deciding factor in their talisman's future.
Arsenal made a concerted effort to poach Suarez in the summer, making a £40m-plus-£1 bid that was rejected, but have now ended their interest after it was made crystal-clear that the Reds would not countenance a sale to their title rivals.
SALAH HEADS JANUARY TARGETS LIST
Despite the still-very-possible exit of Suarez at the end of the season, plus an existing concern about squad depth behind him and Daniel Sturridge, transfer targets in the centre-forward position are yet to emerge.
The most likely recruit as things stand is Mohamed Salah. The 21-year-old winger has impressed for Basel in the Champions League, scoring twice against Chelsea, and his Egypt team-mate, Mohamed Zika, claims that he is "99 per cent sure" that Salah will move to Anfield in January.
Indeed, a striker could be on his way out. Iago Aspas has struggled to make an impact on the first team since his summer switch from Celta Vigo and has been persistently linked with a loan to Swansea City, with Michael Laudrup observing that he is "an interesting player".
Fabio Borini, already loaned out to Sunderland, is also a possible mover. The Italian's agent confirmed in late November that he wanted a meeting with the Reds as his client seeks more time on the pitch than he is currently being afforded, with a view to fighting for a World Cup place.
Further on the 'in' front, Rodgers has previously admitted that Jose Enrique's long-term injury absence may prompt a move for a new left-back in the winter. Reports in the UK also claim that Liverpool have scouted Sevilla midfielder Ivan Rakitic, though his £33m buyout clause may be prohibitive.
One of their most persistent links is to England Under-21s midfielder Will Hughes. A target for the Reds for over a year now, he has impressed in Derby County's revival under Steve McClaren and Rodgers has been forced to deny that a deal is already in place.
REDS ICONS COULD MOVE UP IN ACADEMY SHAKE-UP
Since the unexpected sackings of Frank McParland and Rodolfo Borrell from key roles at the head of their academy in November, Liverpool have yet to announce successors.
The academy director and head of academy coaching had been vital figures in the Reds’ youth system in recent years and were particularly well regarded by ex-boss Rafa Benitez, but reportedly clashed with Rodgers before ultimately being dismissed to strengthen the manager’s position.
No replacements have been confirmed but former Reds players Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman and Rob Jones have all taken up mentor-like roles in the academy over recent months and have been tipped by the likes of Jan Molby to take a more prominent position when the shake-up is complete.
ANFIELD REDEVELOPMENT AWAITS FINAL GO-AHEAD
Earlier this year, owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) made a final commitment towards redeveloping Anfield and the surrounding area rather than constructing a new stadium or sharing one with Everton. Part of a £260m project by Liverpool City Council, the £150m plans are essentially ready to go but both parties are waiting for the 30 remaining vacant and derelict properties in the way to be bought up.
This is a matter of when, not if, as the Council gave itself powers in October to use compulsory purchase orders as a last resort, but work cannot begin until the matter is resolved.
As Professor Tom Cannon told Goal in November, an improved ground promises £10m-15m of boosted income, though it will need time to take effect, making their Champions League push this season all the more vital.
The revamped Anfield is expected to fit around 60,000 seats but, said Professor Cannon, "the big thing is not so much absolute capacity, it's the share of capacity which is given to executive facilities - what Roy Keane would call the prawn sandwich brigade.
"Liverpool probably could move from 100 to probably a couple of thousand of those kinds of facilities, because of their global reach."