Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers faces a challenge none of his predecessors have had to even consider – replacing Steven Gerrard.
Gerrard’s departure at the end of the season will leave a hole at Anfield in terms of midfield dynamism and leadership. It will be an opportunity for players such as Jordan Henderson or Joe Allen to step up but there could be other options.
Here, we considers players elsewhere that could fill the Gerrard void.
It is unthinkable that Barkley could quit Everton and move across Stanley Park to the Toffees’ arch-rivals, and the Blues would certainly never consider selling him to them. Such a scenario probably belongs in the realms of fantasy but, nevertheless, Barkley would actually be a fine replacement for Gerrard. Since breaking into the Everton team and earning England recognition, the 21-year-old has shown he has the potential to reach the top. He is possibly the best English box-to-box midfielder to emerge since Gerrard.
Also possibly unrealistic given that the Frenchman is rated in the £50million bracket and Liverpool – despite receiving such fees for players – have never seriously threatened to pay at that level. Since leaving Manchester United for Juventus, the 21-year-old has established himself as one of the best young midfielders in Europe. He is often linked with a return to England, but usually with the likes of United or Chelsea.
It is certainly not inconceivable Liverpool could attempt to raid Southampton again, however. After taking Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Rickie Lambert last summer, the Reds could look at the highly-rated 25-year-old Schneiderlin. The Frenchman looks to have settled after threatening to leave in the summer but an offer from Liverpool could be tempting.
It might not be a signing to excite, but Delph’s contract at Aston Villa is coming to an end and, with his future uncertain, he would be an easily attainable option. The former Leeds player, 25, has improved greatly over the last 18 months and is now in the England reckoning.
Liverpool made serious attempts to sign the Armenian in the summer of 2013 but ultimately lost out to Borussia Dortmund. Since then the 25-year-old’s star has fallen slightly with Dortmund struggling in the Bundesliga. If he were to become available again, Rodgers could revive his interest.