Nothing less than a title will do at this point. Joint-top on points with Manchester City after their win over Everton on Saturday evening, Liverpool have exceeded expectations from start to finish this season. Whether or not they capture their first top-flight title in 24 years, they're guaranteed a return to the Champions League group stages, and while the fight for silverware means that's longer an acceptable prize, it's a far cry from the types of finishes Liverpool have become accustomed to over the past four years.
Lowered expectations in league have led to lowered expectations in the subsequent transfer windows, but with the club securing a return to top-level football on the continent, there's now hopes that the squad will finally feature both depth and quality throughout. Those hopes start at the top, with Brendan Rodgers asserting that he'll finally be able to make the type of additions that supporters have been looking for in recent seasons:
"We will need to bring in players over the summer, and the great plus about being in the Champions League is that it makes it easier to attract the top ones, but we have developed a style of football over this past year that is already being recognised. We have a way of working and a way of playing that recommends itself to leading players. We have established a reputation as a creative, attacking team that wants to win games and that should stand us in good stead. Last summer when we were speaking to certain players they said they respected what we were trying to achieve but they wanted to play at the top level. We are at that level now, ahead of schedule, so I suspect this summer will be a totally different proposition.
"The owners recognise that we will need an injection of quality for next year and I know the profile of the players we will need. We are already putting plans in place so it will be the total opposite of my first season here, when players didn't report back until quite late after the Euros and I only had a short space of time to put across my ideas and methods. I had no real time to work then so it was difficult to be at a new club. This summer, we have an established playing style and new players will be able to come in and immediately know what we are all about."
Last summer moves for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Diego Costa, and Willian didn't pan out, and in January attempts to sign Mohamed Salah and Yevhen Konoplyanka fell through. A deal for Konoplyanka is still expected this summer, however, with interest in Adam Lallana widely reported in addition to a host of other targets. These are the types of names Liverpool have chased with little success, but now, with identity, success, and progress expected, it looks as though we can marry expectation with hope--and the requisite rumo(u)r mongering anxiety--when it comes to a transfer window.