With the much anticipated 2013/14 Premier League campaign nearing kick-off, we look at a potential Liverpool eleven that could mount a Champions League challenger under Brendan Rodgers.
The team may include a few players who don't currently play for the Merseyside outfit, but this is the potential 18-man squad that may line up for Liverpool this time round.
Goalkeeper- Simon Mignolet
Mignolet was initially brought in as competition for Liverpool no.1 Pepe Reina, but with the inconsistency of the Spaniard last campaign, Mignolet has been given a surprise promotion with Reina recently shipped out for a season-long loan at Serie A giants Napoli. As it stands, Mignolet is set for a crucial debut campaign with his new team.
Left-Back- Jose Enrique
Liverpool have been searching for cover at left-back all summer long, with Brendan Rodgers keen on increasing his options in the defensive line, but Spanish national Enrique will be confident of nailing down a regular spot in the Reds' starting eleven, after impressive performances last campaign.
Enrique has got undoubted ability, establishing himself as one of the Premier League' top full backs, but with injury problems hampering further developments, Rodgers is set to introduce some cover for Enrique. The Spaniard, though, isn't worried and has announced he'd relish competition for his left back spot.
Centre-back- Daniel Agger
The great Dane has been a rock at the back for several years now and has really established himself as one of Europe' top defenders. Despite a recent bid from footballing giants Barcelona, Liverpool will be confident of keeping hold of the die hard reds fan. Agger has been loyal to his boss and committed his foreseeable future to Liverpool as they look to push on with their domestic efforts.
Competition may be on its way for Agger as Liverpool are said to be in for a top centre-half to replace the void left by club legend Jame Carragher, but Agger will be confident of keeping his starting spot after being announced as Liverpool's new vice captain.
Centre-back- Martin Skrtel
Liverpool's second centre-half spot has been the subject of huge debate for many Reds fans with apparent interest in a new recruit, but after Skrtel announced he would be willing to stay and battle for his spot I feel he'll be able to regain the form he delivered at the beginning of last campaign. Rodgers seems willing to offer Skrtel a second chance even after the arrival of former Arsenal and Man City centre-half Kolo Toure. The battle for the second spot will be between Kolo and Skrtel but I feel the latter will just pip his fellow team-mate if he can pick up his form.
Right-back- Glen Johnson
The England full-back has been a regular for Liverpool since his £17million arrival from Portsmouth back in the Benitez days. Johnson has proven himself a top class right back and has earned himself many plaudits throughout the English game and despite the imminent return of Martin Kelly after over a year out with a serious injury, Johnson will be confident of keeping hold of his spot in Rodgers' side.
Central-midfield- Lucas Leiva
The Brazilian has been a rock for Liverpool since establishing himself as a regular since the departures of Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso to La Liga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively. Lucas is a top-class sweeper ahead of the defence and provides a fantastic service for the players ahead of him.
He is a neat passer of the ball and can do a job in the defensive role as well, Lucas will have serious competition from Welsh playmaker Joe Allen, but the Brazilian will be content with the extra push to continue his consistency in the Liverpool line-up.
Central-midfielder- Steven Gerrard
Club legend Gerrard has been the Reds' talisman for over a decade now and is still integral to Rodgers' Anfield revival. Without Gerrard Liverpool look a completely different team. Captain fantastic has been ever-present at the heart of the Liverpool midfield and has probably one of, if not the best passing ranges in the world. The England captain has vowed to get his team back to the standard of play they once enjoyed, up at the top with the big guns within world football and has announced his one goal is to re-launch Liverpool back into Champions League competition, before he retires from football.
Left attacking-midfield- Willian
Brazilian wizard Willian has been told he is free to leave Anzhi as the Russian outfit look to cut costs on foreign players and introduce more homegrown talent to their ranks. Rodgers has been linked with a serious interest in the former Schakhtar man and has identified the playmaker as his 'marquee' signing for the summer. Willian wouldn't come cheap, but after missing out on main targets Diego Costa and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Rodgers looks set to splash out on his new main man.
Liverpool will be confident of fending off interest from Premier League rivals Manchester City and Tottenham after Willian announced he'd be more than happy to link up with Rodgers this summer. As well as Willian's interest in the prospective transfer, Liverpool are willing to offer the Brazilian a wealthy contract as well as first-team football week in week out as they look to replace the gap left by West Ham bound Steward Downing.
Right-attacking midfield- Phillippe Coutinho
The Brazilian took the Premier League by storm after his £8million january arrival from Serie A side, Inter Milan. Coutinho displayed some top notch performances earning major plaudits from everybody associated with the English game.
Despite a difficult start to his career the wonder kid has reignited his quality at Liverpool, showing his raw ability to beat a man and create goals from very little to work with. The likes of Henderson, Suarez and Sturridge all flourished from the influence of Coutinho, scoring many more goals after the little Brazilian arrived. Coutinho will hope to hold a place in the Liverpool line-up with the likes of Jordan Henderson and Liverpool new-boy Luis Alberto both challenging for a spot in the starting eleven.
Centre-forward- Luis Suarez
Despite all the controversy surrounding the future of Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, it finally looks like the Uruguayan will stay at Anfield. Rodgers insists that he has a major part to play in Liverpool's push for Champions League football and Suarez is an undoubted world-class player, but has been ridiculed for his actions on the pitch. Diving, racism and biting have all contributed to the bad press Suarez has recieved, but the abuse seems only to improve the forward. He has flourished under Rodgers, and proved himself a real force within the Premier League last season.
Striker- Daniel Sturridge
The Englishmen scored 12 in 16 for the Reds after his £12million January arrival from Chelsea. Sturridge was given his chance up-top immediately and managed to convert frequently for Rodgers' Liverpool side, forming what looks like a formidable partnership with sharpshooter Luis Suarez.
If allowed to continue his progression and assuming he avoids injury, Sturridge will be a class act for Liverpool next season and will gain the same fear factor as the top Premier League strikers carry. Without a doubt Sturridge will be a major part of Liverpool's success in the future and the Englishmen may well develop into a world-class player.
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