Lallana the prime target on Brendan Rodgers' hit list
Brendan Rodgers says Liverpool face a crucial summer in the transfer market if they are build on this year's title challenge.
Rodgers is making plans to add to his squad with Southampton's £25m rated Adam Lallana a prime target and Cardiff defender Steven Caulker also under serious consideration for an £8m bid.
The additional demands of Champions League football means a minimum of four new players – who Rodgers describes as 'starters' rather than squad players – is essential.
Liverpool were active in the transfer market a year ago, but only goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has commanded a guaranteed starting place every week. Mamadou Sakho, an £18m purchase from Paris Saint-Germain, has been in and out largely due to injury, but Spanish duo Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto have been barely used, Kolo Touré is a squad player and loanees Aly Cissokho and Victor Moses are completely out of favour.
"The players we brought in last summer were young players and players to cover," said Rodgers. "This season we need to bring in starters. One of the things watching the Man City game the other night is they are bringing on (Stevan) Jovetic who scores the goal – £23-24m, Fernandinho £29m and (Alvaro) Negredo £20m.
"That level of player to bring into the game is massive for you and I think this year the reality is we've been unable to do that.
"We have started games amazingly well. We have been up in a lot of games before the hour mark and not been able to manage the games through.
"There are going to be games next season in all the competitions, Premier League, Champions League when we're going to need to be able to change the game.
"I have tried to do it this year with systems and different tweaks, but next year it will be with personnel and that will be important for us."
Rodgers will have a significant budget and is sure the fact Liverpool are now seen as potential title winners – and have a Champions League place – will pay dividends. Lallana is a case in point, as he is also wanted by Manchester United, who are targeting his Southampton team-mate Luke Shaw.
It is understood the 26-year-old England international Lallana wants the move to Anfield rather than Old Trafford, a sign of the shift in pulling power when a side falls out of the top four.
"Listen, we are shopping at a different shop to Manchester City and Chelsea, but we will get players in that I think can improve us," said Rodgers.
"The work has been on-going for a little while now, especially since we consolidated a place in the Champions League. I think we are a real attractive proposition to players through Europe. We are right on the football map now but we have got work to do. We will see how quickly we can get things done.
"I meet regularly with the recruitment boys. For them and their status when they are going to games in Europe, meeting agents and watching players it has been great. We have to work hard to make the right decision for the right type of player to come in here but there is no doubt the Champions League helps you a great deal. Last year we spoke to a number of targets and they wanted Champions League football."
Liverpool still retain a slim hope of winning the League tomorrow, but Rodgers admits Monday's setback at Crystal Palace – losing a three-goal lead in the last 12 minutes – ranks as one of his worst moments.
"The Crystal Palace game was probably the lowest I have felt in football," he said.
"It was so unexpected what happened. You have got to pick yourself up and go again and I analyse over the course of the season and this season has been exceptional. There is a great deal of learning will come out of that game. It's a great reference point.
"The likes of Jon Flanagan, Raheem Sterling, Joe Allen, the Coutinhos. All these players are going to go through this again and they are going to be better prepared for it.
"This is one of the best pushes for the league we have had as a club for 24 years. We are still in it, but if it doesn't work out we will learn from those experiences, and I can guarantee we will be better next time.
"It's something as a manager you will use as a reference point and our players will grow from it.
"It's pretty plain and clear where our improvement is needed. Defensively it's about our concentration.
"We need to play the game and defend with intelligence and read the game in certain situations, particularly away from home. And that's something we will do." (©Daily Telegraph, London)
Adam Lallana (26) Southampton, £20-25m
Steven Caulker (22) Cardiff, £8m
Yevhen Konoplyanka (24) Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, £12m
LIVERPOOL V NEWCASTLE UTD, LIVE, TOMORROW, SKY SPORTS 2, 3.0