Lucas Leiva's two-month layoff led to a quick response, at least amongst the world's rumour mongers, who reacted to news of the defensive midfielder's injured knee by immediately linking Liverpool to AC Milan defensive midfielder Nigel de Jong. At 29 years of age and reportedly on massive wages, the ex-Manchester City player always seemed an unlikely target for Liverpool given their preference for young, undervalued players with relatively low pay packets.
Still, with Liverpool in desperate need of midfield reinforcements to keep the dream of a return to the Champions League this season alive, some had been willing to believe the rumour on the grounds that that the club's owners would make an exception to the transfer policy given the circumstances. However, if ESPN is to be believed, no exception is to be made and Liverpool never actually had any interest in acquiring the player.
De Jong always seemed an unlikely target and a potentially awkward fit for Liverpool, but with less than ten days to go before the transfer window slams shut he represented the sort of target Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool must bring in or risk becoming only the second team since Aston Villa to spend Christmas in first before missing out on the top four come season's end. In the circumstances, such a result would have to be considered an unmitigated failure.
Manchester City, Chelsea, and Arsenal won't get any weaker in the coming seasons. Meanwhile, Tottenham's overhauled squad will head into next year a more cohesive force while Manchester United are showing signs of finally finding their feet—and have Juan Mata set to join. If Liverpool pass up the chance to make it back into the Champions League this season, they could spend years cursing the missed opportunity.