Liverpool target Luis Suarez is believed to have made it clear to Ajax that he would be prepared to leave the Dutch club for Anfield should a suitable offer arrive in the remaining two weeks of the January transfer window.
The Eredivisie side's new boss, Frank de Boer, has stripped the Uruguayan international of the club captaincy after a number of controversial incidents and is thought to be resigned to losing the striker in the coming weeks.
Liverpool have emerged as favourites to secure Suarez's services after Tottenham chose not to further their interest in the 23-year-old, who will only contemplate a move to England should he be able to join a club with a core of Spanish-speaking players.
Though Ajax are prepared to listen to offers substantially below the £35m valuation they placed on the striker after an impressive World Cup, the Dutch club will not countenance selling the player for less than £18m.
Whether Liverpool match that fee will depend on whether the club's owners, Fenway Sports Group, believe Suarez's age, potential and marketing power make him a worthwhile investment.
Manager Kenny Dalglish and director of football strategy Damien Comolli will doubtless attempt to convince the group's principal backers -- John W Henry and Tom Werner -- of that in the coming days.
Dalglish and Comolli have also scouted Wigan winger Charles N'Zogbia intensively in recent weeks, and the Frenchman may prove a cheaper alternative to another long-term target, Aston Villa's Ashley Young.
The England international would cost around £15m should Villa choose to release him, roughly twice what N'Zogbia may cost.
Another Villa player, left-back Stephen Warnock, is also being monitored. Dalglish may look to bring the 29-year-old back to the club he left in 2007 on an initial loan until the end of the season.
Dalglish is thought to be keen to bring as many as four new faces to Anfield in the next 13 days as he looks to inject some much-needed confidence into his jaded side.
Quite how hard the last 18 months of failure has been on Liverpool's squad is illustrated by Dirk Kuyt, a player who came into the campaign on the back of the proudest moment of his career and now finds himself facing an unexpected relegation battle.
"It is difficult for me," he said. "Six months ago, I was playing in a World Cup final. Last week, I had my second defeat of the season to Blackpool. That's not something that should have happened. I am better than that and the team is better than that." (© Daily Telegraph, London)