Brendan Rodgers: title or no title, stars now want to be Reds
Liverpool manager plotting for a summer shopping spree and reckons this season's achievements have sent a message to the world of football
Liverpool may have lost the initiative in this season's English Premier League title race, but as he plans for a fresh assault next season, manager Brendan Rodgers believes the guarantee of a Champions League berth and the style of play he has developed at the club will entice star names to Anfield this summer.
The five-times European champions have been the revelation of the Premier League season with their high-tempo attacking game and could still win a first title in 24 years over the next week - though if Manchester City win their two remaining games they are almost certain to take the crown, following Saturday night's crucial win over Everton.
"We will need to bring in players over the summer and the great plus about being in the Champions League is that it makes it easier to attract the top ones," Rodgers said.
"We have a way of working and a way of playing that recommends itself to leading players.
"We have established a reputation as a creative, attacking team that wants to win games and that should stand us in good stead.
"Last summer when we were speaking to certain players they said they respected what we were trying to achieve, but they wanted to play at the top level.
"We are at that level now, ahead of schedule, so I suspect this summer will be a totally different proposition."
Liverpool's quest to bring the English title back to Anfield for the first time since 1990 hit a bump in the road when they were beaten 2-0 by Chelsea last weekend.
They get a chance to return to winning ways at Crystal Palace tonight, their destiny no longer in their own hands but still in with a chance depending on how other results pan out.
City have the advantage due to a healthier goal difference with both sides on 80 points with two games to play; Chelsea were third on 78, ahead of last night's game against Norwich.
"The owners recognise that we will need an injection of quality for next year and I know the profile of the players we will need," Rodgers said.
"We don't need to change too much. The season we have had has been absolutely brilliant.
"We are a young team that's coming through. Everybody is loving what Liverpool are doing, and now we are in the Champions League.
"Taking Liverpool back for the first time in five years makes me immensely proud, but that's for next season. We still have this season to finish first."
Meanwhile, City boss Manuel Pellegrini insists his team will be taking nothing for granted as they try to seal the deal after clearing their last major hurdle with the win at Everton.
City will be top on Wednesday if they beat Aston Villa and after that only another home game against West Ham is set to stand between City and the trophy.
"It was a testing moment, but we haven't finished yet," said the City manager. "We've just won one of the three games that we must win to win the title.
"It was a very difficult game because you see the history here for City, two wins in 10 years, Everton are in a good moment and they played well so it's a very important victory.
"I was talking with the players especially after we lost against Liverpool and I said that the title was not over and we must continue playing."