Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool owners give Brendan Rodgers £45m kitty despite poor season

By Stuart McKinley

Brendan Rodgers will head to Boston for showdown talks with Liverpool’s owners next month, where he will be assured that his job is safe — for now. The Carnlough man will continue in the Anfield hotseat despite making unwanted history, as Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final defeat to Aston Villa means he is the first Liverpool manager since the 1950s to fail to win silverware in his first three seasons in charge.

Club chief John Henry and the Fenway Sports Group will continue to back Rodgers because their long-term plan — which his appointment in 2012 was central to — remains on track. However, he will be told that a significant improvement is needed.

They will keep faith in Rodgers even though they face the prospect of missing out on a massive £40m if Liverpool fail to qualify for next season’s Champions League. The Reds are currently fifth in the Premier League and the £116m spending spree which Rodgers undertook last summer, following the sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona, was designed to bring at least a top-four finish.

The owners accept, however, that there are mitigating factors on Rodgers’ behalf. The sale of Suarez, injuries to key players like Daniel Sturridge and having to bed in new faces was always going to make it difficult for the manager to stage a repeat of last season's Premier League title challenge.

Liverpool's American owners will sit down with Rodgers after the final Premier League game of the season on May 25 to carry out a detailed analysis of the season. Although the target of Champions League football may not be achieved, it is understood that they are happy that the club is financially stable and Rodgers is working within the wage structure, as well as fulfilling a commitment to sign young players and integrate them, plus academy products, into the first team.

Rodgers will, however, find that his summer transfer budget is less than half what it was 12 months ago, at around £45m, with strengthening the forward line the priority for the Liverpool boss. The reduced spending power won't prevent Rodgers from making a move for long-term target Yevhen Konoplyanka.

The Ukraine international is available on a free transfer from Dnipro and after failing with a last-gasp bid in January 2014, Rodgers will pencil him in high on his summer wish list. A fee of £18m is expected to prise Argentine forward Juan Iturbe from Roma, even though the 21-year-old has yet to win an international cap.

Liverpool are also in the chase to sign Dutch striker Memphis Depay from PSV Eindhoven, but they will find that his price has gone up significantly since Tottenham offered £15m for the 21-year-old after he impressed at the World Cup last summer. This time it will take around £25m to bring him to England.

Belgian striker Divock Origi is expected to be brought into the first-team squad after a season on loan with Lille.

Belfast Telegraph


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