Former Kop hero linked with Liverpool return as Barcelona begin clearout

The raft of left-winger/left-forwards linked with Liverpool over the past nine months strongly indicated that coach Brendan Rodgers would spend big on attackers this summer, but the collapse of the Reds’ top-flight title tilt will have served to sharpen the Northern Irishman’s mind.

Goals were never a problem during Liverpool’s first bone fide Premier League title challenge, with a final tally of 101 the third best in Premier League history, although they were pipped to top spot by a Manchester City side who scored one more.

If Rodgers is to furnish Anfield with a first league trophy since 1990 next term at 11/2 odds, he’ll need to shore up a defence that shipped 23 strikes more than Chelsea, 13 more than City, 11 more than neighbours Everton and seven more than Manchester United during 2013/14’s 38-game marathon.

A return to the Champions League through their second-place finish will boost Liverpool’s transfer-window firepower greatly and summer moves for Spurs’ Jan Vertonghen and West Ham’s Winston Reid – who both ply their trade at centre-half – have been mooted.

The latest whisper doing the rounds relates to a possible Anfield return for Barcelona holding-midfielder Javier Mascherano, who will anchor Argentina’s midfield when the Albiceleste attempt to win their third World Cup at 5/1 odds in neighbours Brazil’s backyard this summer.

Mascherano left Merseyside under something of a cloud in 2010 after 30 fine months at the club, when the former West Ham controversy demanded and was eventually granted a move to the La Liga giants.

However, like many a player that’s run out to the sound of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ before him, Mascherano clearly took to the Anfield faithful during his time on the Red side of Stanley Park.

After winning the Champions League with Barca less than nine months after leaving England, the midfield enforcer – who can also play in the centre of defence – said:

“I know some Liverpool supporters were disappointed after my exit, they were a little bit sad with me, but this is for them.”

With the 29-year-old reportedly available for as little £9m as Los Blaugrana look to put a chaotic season – that could yet end with a second consecutive La Liga title at 5/6 odds – behind them, it would be no surprise to see Kopites sporting red Mascherano jerseys once more come August.

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After training badly as a nurse during his early twenties, Iain spent four years working in a Cork City bookmakers before starting an English Literature degree in 2009. Since graduating, he has written for a number of sites on various subjects, including sports, politics and art.