As clubs prepare for European competition, they usually use the extra money that's coming their way to bolster their rosters. Sometimes they add stars, sometimes they add depth, but the bulking out of a roster is quite common ahead of impending fixture congestion.
The trouble is, for the clubs that don't measure up and fall out of the continental competition after the group stages (or in same cases, down to Europa from the far more prestigious Champions League), it can be difficult to keep the whole gang together, especially with fewer matches to go around. When looking at clubs that don't have as much money as some of the giants, this is an opportunity to get talented players at potentially cut-rate prices.
Lasse Schöne, Attacking Mid, Ajax
Schöne is a clever little Danish playmaker who's best behind the striker, but can also do a job out on the right as a wide playmaker of sorts. He's been a big factor for Ajax this season, but with Siem de Jong and Lerin Duarte likely to be returned to health by the time their Europa League fixtures with Red Bull Salzburg come around, Schöne's role is going to be diminishing soon.
Uniting the Denmark international with Daniel Agger only makes this a more attractive prospect, especially since Schöne would be able to provide Brendan Rodgers with more flexibility and options in the midfield and off the bench. He wouldn't cost a ton to bring in and his wages should be very reasonable for a rotational player, making this a potentially smart move all-around.
Lazar Markovic, Left Winger, Benfica
The little Serbian winger is a dangerous player and, at 19 years old, looks like a star in the making. He attracted the attention of clubs like Chesea last season, and he's already made an impressive mark on his current Portuguese employers. Without Champions League football, however, it'll be harder for Benfica to fend off potential suitors.
Twelve Days Of Transfermas
Twelve Days Of Transfermas
He's fast, lethal with the ball at his feet, and is tough to handle in the box. Working him in to the rotation could be a bit of an issue at first, but with a talent like his, it'd be a good problem to have. Any opportunity to get probably the brightest prospect at a given position should not be passed up on.
Florian Thauvin, Right Wing, Olympique Marseilles
Thauvin is one of the many exciting young talents coming up in the French national team's system, and has been one of the few high points of a disappointing campaign for Marseilles. Thauvin is best on the right wing, but he can play across the attacking midfield band, including behind the striker. He's a tricky and dangerous players with a lot of different moves in his toolbox, and doesn't seem to be getting tested overmuch by Ligue 1 any more.
Mauricio Isla, Right Mid/lots of other positions, Juventus
This one will make some of our readers happy to see. The Chilean international is an incredibly versatile player, capable of playing all up and down the right hand side of the pitch, in central midfield, and even at center or left back in a pinch. Despite that versatility, Isla has been under-utilized by the defending Italian champions, and falling out of the Champions League could easily make him expendable. Complicating any potential transfer is that he's still co-owned by Udinese, meaning that Liverpool would have to come to separate agreements with both clubs. That shouldn't be too hard to accomplish, but you never can tell what will trip up a given transfer.
Others To Consider: Christian Gunter, Left Back, SC Freiburg (Germany); Steven Defour, Central Midfield, FC Porto (Portugal); Adam Matthews, Right Back, Celtic (Scotland); Zakaria Bakkali, Right Winger, PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands); Taras Stepanenko, Defensive Mid, Shaktar Donetsk (Ukraine)