Liverpool are going back to Southampton for their next signing according to reports, after Croatian defender Dejan Lovren was alleged to have submitted a transfer request in order to leave the ailing Saints.
Having already signed Southampton's star forward Rickie Lambert, as well as retaining a very strong interest in Saints skipper Adam Lallana, the Reds seem to fancy their chances of a hat trick, pursuing the former Lyon man as a partner for Martin Skrtel next year.
But is he the best choice available, surely set to cost significantly more than the £7 million Southampton paid for his services last year? Below we list three alternatives:
Steven Caulker (Cardiff City)
The Reds have long been linked with the Cardiff captain, along with the player's former club Tottenham and, in recent days, their rivals Arsenal. At 22-years-old, Caulker is younger than Lovren, and with more Premier League experience. He is sure to seize an England spot in the next couple of years, and would likely cost less than the Croatian after his relegation clause was activated following the Bluebirds' drop back into the Championship next year.
Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal)
One outstanding international option, with over 150 games in England, is Arsenal's apparent want away defender Thomas Vermaelen. The 28-year-old has been unable to break up the Gunners' first choice pairing of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker, and has been linked with a departure since midway through the season. Possessing more pace than Lovren, the Belgian would be an outstanding addition to the Liverpool squad.
Micah Richards (Manchester City)
Richards has already confirmed he will be leaving the Etihad this summer, and having failed to build on his early potential as a powerful, versatile England prospect, could be available for as little as £7-8 million. Still just 25-years-old, Richards is capable at both centre and fullback, and could be given the game time he couldn't get at Manchester City, while working with a manager renowned for getting the most out of younger players.