Seeming poised for a surprise title challenge, with the best player in the world on current form under contract and a chance to make up for missing their marquee targets over the summer, Liverpool's January has so far been something of a dull disappointment. Not only has nothing happened, but the closest thing to a potential big name, difference making signing in Sevilla's Ivan Rakitic seems less likely by the day. There's always the chance for a pleasant surprise, but increasingly the moves being talked about are less about starters and the present and more about substitutes and the future…
Age: 25 - Games Played: 100 - Goals: 23
Nine goals in 59 appearances for Croatia
Though rumours liking Sevilla's Ivan Rakitic with a move to Liverpool have largely cooled since the January transfer window opened, the 25-year-old midfielder has 18 months remaining on his current deal and by most accounts doesn't see himself staying in Spain. This has led to speculation that Sevilla will offer the player a new contract, with Marca reporting that initial contract talks are underway—not to keep Rakitic around over the longer term, but simply to keep him happy until the summer and avoid having him push for an exit before the month is out.
It is believed any new contract would lower his release clause from where it currently stands at €40M to around the €25M mark while bumping his wages, allowing Sevilla to secure his services for the rest of the season and Rakitic to get the move he wants in the summer for something like his market value. However, given Rakitic's desire to leave, if a new contract can't be agreed quickly it's possible a late deal could be made to secure his services. So far this season he has recorded eight goals and six assists in 17 league appearances. PSG have also been linked to the midfielder.
Age: 19 - Games Played: 26
Second youngest player ever in La Liga
Heading across town to Sevilla's second side finds rumours that Liverpool are interested in 19-year-old Real Betis winger Alvaro Vadillo. Either that or Liverpool's scouts got lost on the way to watching Rakitic play. Vadillo is rumoured to be on the radar of a number of large European sides, from Liverpool and Tottenham in England to AC Milan and Fiorentina in Italy, with the player seen as one of the brightest prospects in Spain not already at either Barcelona or Real Madrid. He missed much of last season with a torn cruciate ligament suffered against Madrid.
Vadillo has yet to score for Betis in the league, though he does have four assists in La Liga and a goal in the Europa League, and has scored four times for Betis B, the Andalusian side's feeder club. Far from the finished product, if he were to arrive at Liverpool, Vadillo would be a name for the future rather than a player to help Liverpool secure a top four finish this season and maybe even to push for more. As such, a rumoured £17M release clause and Betis' reported unwillingness to sell suggests any reports of a potential move are little more than flights of fancy
Age: 21 - Games Played: 71 - Goals: 22
Two goals in two England U21 appearances
Danny Ings, Burnley's 21-year-old striker has scored 16 goals in 25 appearances in the Championship this season on the way to becoming the flavour of the month prospect in England's second division. Released as a schoolboy from Southampton, Ings has since spent time at Bournemouth, Dorchester Town, and now Burnley. Though he had been linked to Liverpool, Newcastle, and Fulham in the past, it wasn't until this season that the wider world began to take notice thanks to a string of strong showings and a late-blooming touch in front of goal that has seen the 5'10" striker who arrived for £1M in 2011 seemingly linked to every second Premier League side for five to ten times as much.
Rumours of his arrival have gone hand in hand with speculation Iago Aspas could be headed out on loan, either back to Spain or to Swansea City. Given Ings would be unlikely to see significantly more action than Aspas currently does sat behind Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, and given Aspas cost Liverpool nearly £8M in the summer, the Ings to Liverpool rumours are puzzling. With £8M already invested in Aspas and similar fees spent on youngsters Tiago Ilori and Luis Alberto only to see them struggle to get a game, it's hard to see the appeal in swapping in Ings just to have him sit on the bench behind Suarez and Sturridge at a time in his career when playing time is key.
Age: 20 - Games Played: 0
Has made the bench once for Liverpool
Speaking of youngsters Liverpool has spent a great deal of money on just to have them sit on the bench or in the reserves brings us to Tiago Ilori, with rumours of a loan move gathering momentum in recent weeks. Granada are favourites to sign the centre half for the remainder of the season, with the Spanish side a surprise ninth in La Liga after flirting with relegation for most of the past two seasons—their first back in the Spanish top flight after a 35-year absence. Despite costing £7M in the summer, the 20-year-old has yet to make a senior appearance since arriving at Liverpool, and for some a loan move to a side on the continent rather than in England would be cause for further disappointment.