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Liverpool have been smacked in the face by yet another knee injury to Brazilian anchor man Lucas Leiva, leaving the Reds threadbare in the central midfield department. Whilst captain Steven Gerrard has been deployed in a deeper role of late, and Joe Allen is back to full fitness, Brendan Rodgers will be keen to strengthen a key area of the pitch, and I've identified five players who could do just that.

 

 

1. Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu (Udinese)

 

Despite being just 23 years of age, Udinese terrier Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu has already represented Ghana on 41 occasions. Standing at just 5ft 8in tall, it's easy to overlook Badu in the centre of the Bianconeri midfield, but his insatiable desire to win the ball and energetic approach makes him a key player for the Italian side.

 

Liverpool have been heavily linked with Badu this January, and reports have claimed that he would welcome a move to Anfield. With the Reds looking susceptible in defence, and now without their invaluable rudder at the base of the midfield, Badu would be a convenient addition to the squad.

 

2. Fernando Reges (Porto)

 

Although on this list as a potential replacement for a defensive midfielder, it would be unjust to label Fernando Reges as just that. The 26-year old Porto midfielder is adept in all facets of the game, primarily in the defensive third but also pushing forward. Whilst he possesses a superb tackling ability, the Brazil international is also blessed with pace, he's confident on the ball, passing competently and even carrying the ball forward himself.

 

 

Fernando is another who has attracted grave interest from Merseyside, as well as a host of other European teams, and Rodgers would do well to acquire his services. Although he plays in the same position as Lucas, Fernando is a vastly different player, so much so that he has the confidence and ability to regularly perform skills that Brazil star Neymar would be proud of.

 

3. Nigel de Jong (AC Milan)

 

A criticism levelled at Liverpool this season is that they don't have the power to challenge for the Barclays Premier League title. Two of the favourites to land the trophy this season, Manchester City and Chelsea, possess plenty of power in the form of Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany, David Luiz and Nemanja Matic. Nigel de Jong, therefore, would be an unsurprising signing, and Rodgers has reportedly been keeping an eye on the Milan man.

 

An extremely combative midfielder, de Jong will be a familiar name to English football fans having spent two-and-a-half seasons with Manchester City, but he will perhaps be best remembered for his violent assault on Spain's Xabi Alonso during the 2010 FIFA World Cup final. Injuring a former Kop hero is perhaps not the best way to endear yourself to Liverpool fans, but there's no doubting that de Jong would add a seriously competitive edge to the Reds' midfield.

 

It is understood that the Italian giants are reluctant to sell the Dutchman at this time, so a six-month loan deal may work out best for both teams.

 

4. Sergi Roberto (Barcelona)

 

Virtually every player who graduates from Barcelona's infamous La Masia academy gets likened to a current or past great, and 21-year old Sergi Roberto is no different. Despite not playing for the Spain senior squad yet, Roberto has been compared to current Barcelona legend and Roberto's personal hero, Xavi. Of course, Roberto is a long way from matching the standards Xavi has set during his illustrious career, but he certainly has the ingredients to become the flavour of Barca's next generation, that is if no other club snaps him up.

 

Roberto has represented Spain at four youth levels, and is currently part of the Under 21 setup, which includes the likes of Real Madrid's Alvaro Morata and on-loan Everton starlet Gerard Deulofeu. Roberto is known for his simple passing game, excellent technical ability and high work rate, which goes a long way to justifying the comparison with Xavi.

 

 

Liverpool have been a keen party for some time now, although interest seems to have waned in the last six months. Nevertheless, Rodgers could do a great deal worse than bringing in Roberto on a short-term loan deal, given Barcelona's objection to letting him leave permanently, which is understandable.

 

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