With the transfer window fast approaching, it seems like there's a number of different areas for Liverpool to look at strengthening. Be it for depth or finding the "right" player for an overall increase in quality, the likelihood of at least some notable transfer activity for the club seems fairly high.
With that in mind, let's start with a category that, while it may not bring immediate impact for the squad, is always an intriguing one to look at in the winter window: the acquisition of promising youth. January is a time that frequently sees younger players shuffle around, as clubs have had time to evaluate the progress of both their academies and those of other clubs. With holes identified as well as other players who seem to fit the ideas and goals of the system, this is a good time to try to swoop in for guys who you hope to be a big part of your club in the future.
With that in mind, I've put together a list of potential targets for Liverpool to looks at. Some have had links to the club, and some are just pipe dreams, but it's good food for thought for how Liverpool can look to take another step, especially with the youth system in a bit of flux recently.
M'Baye Niang, Right Wing, AC Milan
Why Niang has seemingly fallen out of favor for the Italian giants is beyond me. The 18-year-old is tall, lithe, and quick as can be, both in the open field and in tight spaces. He certainly has several facets of his game to work on (defensive work as with all young wingers, and his crossing is abhorrent), but on a whole he's very advanced for such a young player, and he could walk in to the wide forward rotation of all but a few clubs in Europe.
As such, a bevy of clubs are after him, with Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester City all interested in him, and a host of other big European names rumored to be involved as well. If Liverpool were to dive in to the bidding, this wouldn't be an easy get for them, but he'd instantly be the club's best prospect out wide by some margin. The downside, however, is that his agent is listed as being Mino Raiola, which... yeah.
Valmir Berisha, Forward, Halmstads BK
The 17-year-old Swede has yet to make his first team debut for his Swedish first division club, but is already drawing lofty comparisons to highly successful players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic. While that seems like jumping the gun more than a little bit, but his performances in the U-17 World Cup (which saw him score 7 goals) opened a lot of eyes and earned him the attention of virtually every top club in Europe.
At 5'10" (with room still to grow), a strong frame, a lethal left foot, and excellent on-ball skills, it's easy to see why people are excited about Berisha. It's even been reported in the media that he's interested in a move to Anfield after Brendan Rodgers and company recently outlined a fast-track path for him to become part of Liverpool's first team. Add in that he's still young enough to qualify as a club-trained player in a few years for European competition purposes, and this is a signing that makes too much sense for the club not to try to make happen.
Ryan Gauld, Left Wing, Dundee United
The 17 year old Scot has drawn rave reviews for his performances in Dundee's first team, and has been a huge part of their current fourth-place standing in the Scottish Premier League. In thirteen matches (including four substitute appearances), he's chipped in four goals and five assists, and has generally been the best thing his club has had going. Considered to be the best prospect that Scotland has produced in some time, Gauld has already drawn significant interest from big clubs, with Manchester United supposedly close to tabling an offer for his services. Liverpool have been rumored to be involved as well, and while I'm generally leery of Scottish players, Gauld looks like he has a good chance of being the real deal, with pace, a strong shot from outside the box, and a bit of an eye for a pass or cross despite his youth.
Carles Planas, Left Back, Barcelona
While everyone has been focused on the will-he-won't-he saga of Martin Montoya, Barcelona has another talented fullback wasting away. This one is Carles Planas, a left back currently biding his time in the Segunda Division with Barcelona B. While he's not on the same level as Montoya, he's a good prospect in his own right who's just stuck behind one of the best left backs in the world. At 22, he's a little old to be considered a "true" prospect, but with only a year and a half left on his contract and no real prospects at the Camp Nou, he would probably cost about the same as most of the others on this list and has legs about as fresh. This could be a fantastic buy-low option for Liverpool to look at.
Moussa Dembele, Forward, Fulham
No, not that Moussa Dembele. Fulham still has another impressive young player by the same name as the midfield dynamo, but this one is a forward with a good nose for the goal. He recently made his first team debut as a late sub against West Ham after scoring five goals in four matches in reserve play this season. Just 17, Dembele carries the same benefit of Gauld and Berisha in that he'd be eligible to become a club-trained player under UEFA's squad rules, and could probably have a similarly quick path to the first team as Berisha (though he lacks the Swede's upside). Watching him play, he reminds me a lot of a young Eddie Johnson, with his height, speed, and athleticism. Hopefully he works out better in England's top flight than the American did, but it's definitely a profile worth rolling the dice on.
Others to think about: Adama Traore, Right Wing, Barcelona; Lucas Anderson, Forward, Ajax; Diego Reyes, Center Back/Defensive Midfield, Porto; Ricardo Centurion, Left Wing, Racing Club (Argentina); Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg, Midfield, Bayern; Enzo Beloso, Right Back, Newell's Old Boys; Yannick Gerhardt, Central Midfield, Cologne