The World Cup playoffs are here, and not only do they allow teams to qualify for the World Cup, but also allow players to impress potential suitors.
One manager who will be watching with interest is Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, with a number of his rumoured targets set to take to the field over the coming days in order to help their nations reach the World Cup.
Here are five players that the Reds boss should be following ahead of the January transfer window...
Ivan Rakitic (Croatia and Sevilla)
The former Schalke man is a key player for the Andalusians in Seville having been appointed as captain this season, and the 25 year old has earned a reputation for being a gifted passer, but also as a threat to score from long range and from set pieces. The Reds were linked with a £12m move for the Croatian, and he is likely to be a key part of Niko Kovac's midfield, where he will feature alongside Luka Modric, as they look to see off underdogs Iceland.
Yohan Cabaye (France and Newcastle United)
It seems Rodgers has his eyes on another creative midfielder, with Newcastle's Yohan Cabaye also a rumoured target. Cabaye wanted to leave St. James' Park at the end of August, but saw a move to Arsenal fall through, and whilst the Magpies are believed to be seeking £18m for the former Lille man, Liverpool may be lining a bid up. Cabaye is expected to feature alongside Blaise Matuidi and Paul Pogba in the French midfield as Les Blues take on Ukraine, aiming to avoid any controversy after their last World Cup playoff debacle...
Alexandru Maxim (Romania and Stuttgart)
Romanian playmaker Maxim was linked with a £6m move to Anfield last week after a string of impressive performances for Bundesliga outfit Stuttgart. In what is likely to be a tight game against Greece, Maxim will be relied upon heavily as the Romanians seek to unlock a mean Greek defence. Able to play as an attacking midfielder or out wide, 23 year old Maxim could offer Rodgers some versatility should he move to Merseyside in January.
Andriy Yarmolenko (Ukraine and Dynamo Kiev)
Flying winger Yarmolenko has been strongly linked with Liverpool since the summer, and those rumours refuse to go away. Rodgers has reportedly sent scouts to watch Ukraine's game with France on Friday, though he could also be interested in Dnipro's Yevhen Konoplyanka. A £20m bid for Yarmolenko was supposedly turned down over the summer, and Rodgers seemingly hasn't given up hope of landing him yet, with a winger believed to be one of his primary targets.
Kostas Mitroglou (Greece and Olympiakos)
Greek hitman Mitroglou has been in red hot form so far this season, with 17 goals in 15 games for Olympiakos, as well as three goals for his country since the start of the season. A physically imposing striker, Mitroglou would certainly add something different to the Liverpool frontline, and with Spaniard Iago Aspas looking to head back to La Liga to rediscover his form, Mitroglou could be the man to ease the burden on Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge at the head of the Liverpool attack. With Romania missing Vlad Chiriches of Spurs, the 25 year old striker could have a field day.
image: © nathan17