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Rumour Mongering: Reds Lower Centre Half Expectations, Target Michael Keane

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If Liverpool miss out on the top four they can forget about landing Virgil van Dijk.

Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Before Liverpool lost to Crystal Palace, they seemed near certainties to make the top four and had reportedly made Southampton's £50M rated Virgil van Dijk their top defensive target. Having lost to Crystal Palace and now looking a 50:50 shot to make the top four, the papers are today linking them with Michael Keane.

Burnley's 24-year-old centre half has been linked before, and he's not a bad player, but he's not a player who would improve Liverpool's starting eleven like van Dijk would, and that his name has resurfaced today offers something of a commentary on just how disappointing Sunday's 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace was.

Make the top four, make it back into the Champions League, and get one of the top defenders in the Premier League, a proper team of the season contender who wouldn't look out of place at a top club in any of Europe's top leagues. Fail to make it, get a solid and very English second choice from a relegation-threatened side.

It's hard not to have it all looking like a case of damning Keane with faint praise, but it's hard to find all that much that's nice or encouraging to say when the rumour mongers switch tracks from a player of Virgil van Dijk's calibre to, well, anything that isn't in that same rarefied footballing air.

Keane would be a solid addition for a side on the fringes of the Europa League, a club like Everton looking to build incrementally year over year. Liverpool and the club's fans, though, had begun to believe they weren't that kind of a team. It's hardly Keane's fault that revived links to him are so disappointing, but they are.