Who will Liverpool look to as Steven Gerrard's replacement?
Published 18/05/2015 | 18:51
After an emotional send-off at Anfield at the weekend, it is finally sinking in that Steven Gerrard's time at Liverpool is almost at an end. Just who will Liverpool choose to replace their club captain?
Manager Brendan Rodgers has always advocated that the philosophy of the Reds will be to turn their attentions to youth, but admitted that to speed up the process of challenging for silverware, they will need to spend big on quality.
"The model at this club is clear: we want to take young players and develop them into world-class ones, but that can be a long and a difficult process," the Liverpool manager said last week.
Gerrard will have one final outing against Stoke City, but who will step into the breach next summer?
Hard to imagine the powerful midfielder cannot manage first-team football on the back of a stellar World Cup campaign, but such is life at Real Madrid.
Has been on the periphery at the Bernabeu under Carlo Ancelotti with the likes of Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Toni Kroos, James Rodriguez and Isco all ahead of the German in the pecking order.
Was strongly linked with Arsenal last summer, but could be required more urgently at Anfield.
Another player previously linked with the Gunners - Arsene Wenger had a last-minute bid turned down in the last transfer window according to local reports - the holding midfielder would offer more defensive qualities that a cutting edge in the final attacking third.
Gerrard has been used as a protective shield at times, not altogether convincingly, and with Lucas struggling to recapture his form of old, the Portuguese international would provide much-needed solidity.
A reported buy-out clause of €47m has been put forward as a stumbling block should Sporting decide not to negotiate.
Has taken over the mantle from Wesley Sneijder of being constantly linked with Manchester United, with nothing concrete yet to materialise.
Was outstanding in the defat of Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals and it would be highly improbable that he would entertain a move from a Champions League finalist to a side that failed to even qualify for Europe's premier competition.
His box-to-box style is reminiscent of Gerrard in his pomp.
The Slovakian has seen his profile, certainly in transfer activity, dip over the last 18 months.
The Napoli star had been courted by a number of top European clubs and has been a consistent performer for the Serie A club, particularly in the Champions League as a number of Premier League clubs have found to their cost.
A genuine creative spark in the middle of the pitch, his eye-catching performances are matched by his colourful hairstyle and appearance.
Arguably one of the best bits of business Southampton have ever conducted after his £1.2m move from Strasbourg in 2007, the French midfielder was expected to join the exodus in the summer but remained on the south coast of England. Whether that was by choice is unlikely, but he has again turned in some highly impressive performances for the high-flying Saints.
His former manager Mauricio Pochettino appears keen to bring the player to Tottenham Hotspur, but could well be a £20m option for Brendan Rodgers.
Summer purchases of Saints trio Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren have not quite lived up to expectations thus far, but the combative midfielder (seven yellows, one red card this campaign already) will not be short of options should he force a move from St. Marys this summer.