Report: Liverpool tracking 53-capped star as Gerrard replacement

Liverpool have stepped up their search for Steven Gerrard's replacement.

Gerrard is departing Anfield at the end of this season, linking up with MLS side LA Galaxy after years of loyal service at the Merseyside club.

Despite playing a key role as the Reds came so close to winning the Premier League last season, the 34-year-old has struggled this term, and Brendan Rodgers’ side have looked better when he has been relegated to a substitute role. He has neither the energy nor consistency to play at the top level now, and, although his abilities shine through on sparse occasions, he cannot keep it up for a run of games,

His departure from Anfield, while bad in terms of club culture, is fantastic news for Rodgers who can now begin to rebuild his side with a new look central midfielder, and various reports have surfaced claiming that the Northern Irish coach is on the lookout for a long-term replacement for the former England captain.

Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke has been linked with a summer transfer to Merseyside, as per AS in Spain, although his large buyout clause - €60 million according to the same article - makes a transfer unlikely in these FFP hit times. There are few other top class, energetic central midfielders on the market - Paul Pogba and Arturo Vidal will likely join bigger clubs than Liverpool - but the Reds have reportedly got their eyes on one target who will be available for free in the summer.

As reported by the Liverpool Echo, who quote SportBild, Sami Khedira is being eyed up ahead of a potential summer transfer, with his contract expiring at the end of this season. The Germany international midfielder currently plays for Real Madrid, but his deal is not being extended and clubs are free to approach him with a pre-contract agreement. A number of Bundesliga teams are said to be interested, with Schalke the key name highlighted in the same Bild article.

What does this mean for Liverpool?

Despite being heavily affected by injury in recent years, Khedira is still only 27-years-old, and has proved that he is a top quality player on his day. For a free signing he would arguably be the budget transfer deal of the summer, and, if tied down to a long-term contract, could theoretically provide years of top flight service for just the price of his wages.

There is no indication as to where Khedira would prefer to play next season, and a host of clubs will likely attempt to sign him in the summer, so, if Liverpool have a serious interest in him, they would be wise to enter pre-contract talks right now - with his signature already available on the market.

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