Liverpool fans looking for a brief reprise from the pain of last weekend's woeful, baffling performance against Aston Villa and today's news that Lucas will miss six to eight weeks with a knee injury may want to sit this one out. Gluttons for punishment, on the other hand, will be happy to hear that Chelsea are open to a bid for Juan Mata from another Premier League side. But that Premier League side isn't Liverpool. It's Manchester United.
Meanwhile, the Mohamed Salah rumours continue to spin their wheels and Liverpool fans are left to pick over a list of names that swing from not likely to uninspiring to might be good in a few years and all while the club's previously promising season is busy burning down in the background...
Age: 20 - Games Played: 48 - Goals: 9
Eleven appearances for Norway
The latest name on the pile is Red Bull Salzburg's Valon Berisha, with Norwegian paper Aftenbladet claiming Liverpool scouts have been watching the 20-year-old closely. Berisha was offered a development contract by Manchester City and Aston Villa at the age of 15 but felt remaining at Norway's Viking FK gave him his best chance of first team action at an early age. His goal, though, always appears to have been England and the Premier League, and when he moved to Salzburg the player admitted he saw the move as an "intermediate step" and was choosing a side that could aid in his development while giving him lots of first team football.
If he's willing to accept that a move to Liverpool at this stage in his career isn't likely to lead to starting every week and that he'd most likely be sat beside Luis Alberto on the bench, then Berisha appears a promising prospect likely to cost less than £5M. However, if Berisha sticks to his past approach of following the playing time as he continues to develop, a move to Liverpool for the attacking midfielder at this stage in his career would seem an odd choice. Similarly, if Liverpool have any intention of bringing in a player to strengthen the starting eleven this season, Berisha isn't it.
Age: 23 - Games Played: 45
Declined Wales call-up in hopes of England opportunity
Sticking with kids and odd choices, the past week has seen a flurry of rumours linking Liverpool to Nottingham Forest's Karl Darlow. The young shot stopper has so far made 45 appearances for Forest, most of them coming after he became the Championship club's first choice 'keeper in the second half of last season, and moreso even than Berisha his seems an odd name for Liverpool to be linked to despite frequent rumours in the summer that the club were seeking a new backup and that Brad Jones' days were numbered.
With Forest fighting for promotion in the Championship and the player starting every match, it's not a move that makes a lot of sense for either Darlow or his current club. It's also fair to ask why Liverpool would be interested in a young but established goalkeeper who will need minutes the club simply cannot offer. A veteran willing to come in and mostly sit on the bench might be one thing for Liverpool to target, but an up and coming shot stopper starting every week in the Championship is something else entirely—and it's a something else that doesn't pass the smell test.
Age: 28 - Games Played: 117 - Goals: 33
Two goals in 23 appearances for Brazil
Talksport, amongst others, are making a big deal over reports Lazio's Hernanes will cost significantly more than €15M if somebody wants to pry him away from Italy while overlooking that there have until now been no links suggesting Liverpool are actually interested in the 28-year-old central midfielder. However, while he isn't the defensive midfielder the club would seem to need, Hernanes is a fairly complete one who would fill a role similar to previously rumoured target Ivan Rakitic, and were Brendan Rodgers willing to drop Steven Gerrard one can imagine a hugely promising midfield trio consisting of Hernanes along with Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen over the next two months.
That there was little suggestion Liverpool were interested in the player before Lazio's president came out this week to say he wasn't for sale unless somebody made an exceptional offer is one mark against any potential transfer. The player's age and the likely be a high fee is a second. Still, with the Rakitic rumours mostly gone, it's an intriguing name being thrown into the void and the sort of player many fans would hope the club is targeting—particularly now that Lucas is out.
It's hardly shocking to find Christian Tello rumours resurfacing; more surprising to find suggestions the club will try for current Everton loanee Gerard Deulofeu in the summer added to them. Both rumours help to keep the tradition of linking Liverpool to random Barcelona players who won't be moving to Anfield alive and well. Speaking of which, the past week has seen a handful of exceptionally unreliable links to Barca's Pedro, a name that has come up in connection to Liverpool nearly every window since Barcelona started trying to buy a replacement for the Tenerifian winger.
Elsewhere, Nigel De Jong's name has bubbled to the surface following Lucas' injury and despite that Milan seem disinclined to let him go, while it appears to be more of the same on the Mohamed Salah front—Liverpool want to pay £8M, Basel want to be paid £12M, and Newcastle may be looking to get in on the action. Meanwhile, Valencia paper Super Deporte believe their local club is targeting Iago Aspas to help with a second half push for European football.