Liverpool's title chances aren't entirely gone yet, but if they were underdogs before they're massive ones now, and the disappointment of a loss to Chelsea and draw with Crystal Palace will likely remain a sore point. Despite what seems destined to be a disappointing final turn, though, finishing top three and guaranteeing a place in next season's Champions League is a massive achievement for a side many hoped could simply challenge for the top four.
With only a year left on Brendan Rodgers' contract, it's an achievement that meant the club was always going to look to extend the three-year deal he signed when arriving in the summer of 2012. It's no surprise, then, that multiple sources believe a £2.5M per year deal running though the summer of 2018 has been agreed in principle between the club and manager, with Rodgers expected to sign following Sunday's final game of the season against Newcastle.
News of Rodgers' imminent four-year extension comes at the same time as growing suggestions of a transfer budget of £40-70M plus any funds recouped through sales and up to six new first team signings being made before next season in order to deal with the added rigours of European competition. There is also a belief at the club that the sort of top class players who may have turned the club down before will now be more willing to listen to an offer from Liverpool.
"Last summer when we were speaking to certain players they said they respected what we were trying to achieve but they wanted to play at the top level," said Rodgers recently when asked about his summer plans. "We are at that level now, ahead of schedule, so I suspect this summer will be a totally different proposition. The owners recognise that we will need an injection of quality for next year and I know the profile of the players we will need.
"We are already putting plans in place so it will be the total opposite of my first season here, when players didn't report back until quite late after the Euros and I only had a short space of time to put across my ideas and methods. I had no real time to work then so it was difficult to be at a new club. This summer, we have an established playing style and new players will be able to come in and immediately know what we are all about."
Even if the title is in fact gone, and even if that's disappointing given where Liverpool were two weeks ago, the club have achieved a great deal this season. A new deal for Rodgers and a strong showing this summer in the transfer market can serve as confirmation of that and ensure those gains are held on to.