It's 2 am and I'm staring at multiple tabs on my offensively garish laptop screen, each one replete with insistent and screeching tales of impending arrivals and departures, to and from Anfield. Most can boast a relationship with reality which is at best tangential. It is, frankly, madness to click and read and yet, when the alternative is still more self-indulgent wailing and lamentation about the end of a Liverpool legend's career, my path becomes clarified. I can weep no more. I choose the blue pill. Ladies and gentlemen, we are going down the rabbit-hole.
The Pepe Reina to Barcelona rumours simply will not go away despite the efforts of many fans to simply plug their ears and recite the 'lalalala' song. Even this complex avoidance technique is powerless against the sheer volume of the stories and The Daily Mirror are insisting that there is substance to the rumour and that Tito Vilanova, Sandro Rosell and Andoni Zubizarreta are in talks to bring the La Masia graduate home.
That same paper's Matt Law suggests that Stoke City's Asmir Begovic may well be the target to replace Reina, should he depart. The sweetener in this otherwise grim, recurrent tale, is that Stewart Downing is reputedly the highly unattractive carrot with which Brendan Rodgers might try to tempt Tony Pulis. Read that sentence again. This type of wrongness is what causes damage to people's fragile psyches.
As covered yesterday by Noel, Sam Allardyce is highly excited by the prospect of taking Andy Carroll on a permanent transfer. This is monumentally offensive to me on a couple of fronts. Firstly, I resent the concept of Allardyce deriving any Liverpool-related pleasure from life. Secondly, I am a defiant Big-Lug defender and I'd love to see him given another chance. If he stays in London, however, at least we can continue to laugh uneasily at pictures of him resembling an unkempt hobo and eating fast-food late at night.
Assorted tales abound which link various other first-teamers with the Anfield exits. Martin Skrtel, Sebastian Coates, Glen Johnson and Jonjo Shelvey are amongst the senior men who are being whispered about and the potential exists for several highly promising younger stars like Fernando Suso and Raheem sterling to be sent on loan that they might accrue more high-level experience.
So much then, for the bleak tales of departures and farewells, except for the Downing one -- that's a great story. Let us instead examine the delights the various 'news' outlets are serving us up about exciting new arrivals.
Easily the most tantalising and idiotic of all the potential 'X To Liverpool' stories is the one doing the rounds about the club's reputed interest in Malaga wonder-kid Isco. The fact that his manager of this campaign will likely be at Manchester City next season is no deterrent to papers. The fact that the Mancunians are amongst the few clubs who could afford the suggested fee of more than thirty million pounds is also, apparently, the most moot of points. It's Isco! It's Liverpool! Throw shit at a wall! See if it sticks!
Irrefutably, Brendan Rodgers will need to recruit defenders in this coming window. How many, is the stuff of speculation, as we've already established. The idea about our manager rekindling his relationship with Ashley Williams is still irritatingly prevalent but a link to another British defender of a younger, more FSG-friendly vintage is emerging.
The Mail suggest that Liverpool are considering a move for Tottenham's Danny Rose. The player has impressed on-loan at Sunderland and the Under 21 international's stock has risen considerably after having previously impressed under Harry Redknapp in the Spurs first team. However, given his current disillusionment with much of the squad available to him, it's likely Paolo Di Canio will shout as loud as anyone in an attempt to keep the full-back on his roster.
More exotic and interesting defensive targets are cited by The Liverpool Echo, who believe that LFC are preparing a twelve million pounds bid for the Greek international Schalke centre-half Kyriakos Popadopoulos. I will not lie. I want this to be true, not only because I've seen him perform excellently but also because he has one of the best names ever, which will look delightfully comical on the back of our new kit.
Ed told us the tale of Tiago Ilori a couple of days ago and The Echo follow our man's lead by positing a potential move by Liverpool for the Sporting Lisbon man, just as they trail in Elizabeth's wake in linking us with thirty two year old Ivorian international, Kolo Toure. The Liverpool Offside -- ain't no hiding from us, Mr. Speculation.
I could, of course, continue ad nauseum. Liverpool still has enough cachet and resources to be an attractive destination for decent footballers and journalists possess more than ample imagination to join the often imaginary dots. That, however, is your lot for today. It's getting a little cramped down this particular rabbit-hole and I've come over all claustrophobic.