Of all the Premier League teams, Liverpool have been one of the busiest so far in the summer transfer window, recruiting no fewer than four new players as they look to bounce back from a hugely disappointing campaign in which they finished sixth in the league and failed to win a trophy for the third successive season under manager Brendan Rodgers.
While the signing of James Milner from Manchester City on a free transfer certainly generated some excitement on Merseyside, the players Rodgers has brought in since haven’t exactly captured the imagination of Liverpool fans.
Danny Ings and Adam Bogdan from Championship sides Burnley and Bolton Wanderers respectively will be nothing more than squad players, unlikely to establish themselves as key members of the first team, while the acquisition of 18-year-old centre back Joe Gomez from Charlton Athletic is very much one for the future.
The Reds boss needs to make some inspired, big-name signings between now and the end of the transfer window to reassure the increasingly restless Liverpool fanbase that he is the man to make them compete for silverware again.
With plenty of targets being linked with a move to Anfield, who would make up Liverpool’s dream starting XI next season?
Simon Mignolet, to put it bluntly, is not a top-four goalkeeper.
Petr Cech is expected to leave Chelsea having lost his place to Thibaut Courtois; a world-class goalkeeper with masses of experience playing at the highest level of the game, he would immediately become Liverpool’s no.1, despite his advancing years.
With Glen Johnson gone, John Flanagan struck by injury and Javier Manquillo failing to convince, a move for Southampton’s Clyne might be wise as Liverpool look to strengthen in the right-back berth.
The Reds have already had a £10million bid rejected for the England international; raise it to £15million and they are likely to be able to secure the signature of this highly-promising modern full-back.
Despite his contractual issues, Skrtel remains Liverpool’s best centre-back and tying the 30-year-old to a new deal is a must for the Reds.
He may have a tendency to needlessly tug at opponents’ shirts in dangerous areas, but the Slovakian was one of the best performers at Anfield last season, and it is hard to see how Liverpool can improve on him at this moment in time.
Still only 25 years of age, Sakho is a technically superb ball-playing defender (although at times he does resemble Bambi on ice).
Left-footed, he is a perfect accompaniment to the right-footed Skrtel. Given time, the pair can form an effective centre-back partnership.
The Spaniard found it difficult at times last season in his first year at the club, but his wonderful solo goal against Tottenham Hotspur in August showcased his talents as an attacking left-back.
At 22, he has plenty of time to acclimatise to English football, and Rodgers should show patience. A full-back pairing of Moreno and Clyne would be one of the most agile – and feared – in the league.
The England international is desperate to take over the captain’s armband from the outgoing Steven Gerrard, and on the basis of his performances over the past two seasons, he deserves it.
Hard-working, creative and with the ability to chip in with the odd goal, Henderson has staked his claim as a key player for Liverpool.
Before signing for the Reds, Milner wanted assurances that he would be able to enjoy regular first team action, and it is likely that Rodgers will grant the 29-year-old his wish.
Sharing Henderson’s work ethic, the pair would make Liverpool’s midfield hard to break down.
His travails at right-back last season served only to show that Rodgers was playing Can woefully out of position, and if given the opportunity to play in his favoured central midfield role, he has the potential to thrive at Anfield.
Can has already impressed for Germany’s under-21 side at the European Championships; the upcoming campaign can be his breakthrough season for Liverpool.
Lallana was one of Rodgers’ more successful signings last summer. Excellent with both feet, he would make an effective counterpart to Philippe Coutinho, with freedom to drift inside and create chances through the middle.
Similarly to Lallana, his placement on the left does not in any way mean that this skilful Brazilian will take up a conventional winger role.
Such is the talent of Coutinho that he is able to play anywhere across an attacking midfield three, and swapping wings with Lallana would create havoc for opposition defenders.
Liverpool’s player of the year last season, the 23-year-old would have the licence to roam as a playmaker, where his trickery and ability to find space makes him one of the Premier League’s most attackers.
A superb goalscorer, Sturridge became virtually a stranger at Anfield last season due to a succession of injuries that kept him out of most of the campaign.
Immensely talented, lightning quick and with wonderful ability on the ball, Liverpool’s chances of winning increase exponentially when Sturridge is in the starting eleven.
The Reds need to keep him fit next season, otherwise their chances of getting back into the top four are markedly diminished.