Liverpool will fail to finish fourth next season

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With Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham all set to strengthen over the summer months, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers must work tirelessly in the current transfer window to ensure his side are well-equipped to replicate last season’s impressive showing next term. But even then it may not be enough for the Merseyside outfit to secure a top-four finish at the end of the 2014/15 campaign.

First and foremost it’s imperative Liverpool keep Luis Suarez in their ranks. This, however, will be much easier said than done. Real Madrid are reportedly keen to sign the Uruguay international who, like most other players on the planet, would find it nigh-on impossible to reject a dream move to the Bernabeu.

While Liverpool are a big club in their own right, they still pale in comparison to the behemoth that is Real Madrid, where some of the sport’s greatest ever players have cemented their status as legends. Following in the footsteps of Alfredo di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas, Raul, Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Cristiano Ronaldo and other legendary figures would lure just about every ambitious players who harbours dreams of winning the most prestigious trophies before they retire.

Suarez falls into this category - and it seems difficult to imagine Liverpool retaining the South American if, as expected, Real Madrid decide they want the player.

If the worst comes to the worst, and Liverpool lose Suarez, then they can kiss goodbye to their hopes of finishing inside the top four next season, regardless of who they bring in to replace him. But even if they retain his services, the fact Liverpool are back in Europe after a lengthy absence threatens to disrupt their ambitions of challenging for the Premier League title next season.

The Reds went so close to winning the 2013/14 Premier League title thanks to their lack of European football. Would they have pushed Manchester City so close had they been playing every Thursday-Sunday in the Europa League, or every Tuesday-Saturday in the Champions League? Almost certainly not.

Rodgers and Liverpool still deserve immense credit for the football they produced last season - at times it was the most breathtaking football any team in the country was playing - but the fact they only needed to focus on the league was undoubtedly a major benefactor in their stunning campaign.

Liverpool fans will be delighted to see the club back in the Champions League - and understandably so. European nights at Anfield are special occasions and you wouldn’t bet against the Reds making a real impression in the world’s most revered club competition, despite having been out of it since 2009.

But they should brace themselves. Chelsea have already lined up some fantastic signings in the form of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas, while the world-class Thibaut Courtois returns to cement his status as the club’s - and the Premier League’s - best goalkeeper. Arsenal will spend big on reinforcements after ending last season with the FA Cup. Retaining Arsene Wenger’s services for another three seasons was a huge morale boost.

Manchester City will be there or thereabouts again thanks to Manuel Pellegrini and their superstar players; Tottenham will improve under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino, while Louis van Gaal coming in at Manchester United is a prospect which ought to terrify Rodgers, Mourinho, Wenger and every other Premier League boss.

The odds are already beginning to stack up against Liverpool and we’re still 66 days from the start of the 2014/15 campaign. Their stay inside the top four of the Premier League could be a fleeting one.

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