Kolo Toure
Kolo Touré was widely expected to depart Liverpool this summer before being handed a one-year contract extension earlier in May.Getty Images

Mark Lawrenson has claimed an overhaul of Liverpool's forward unit this summer would likely see Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert replaced by Christian Benteke, Danny Ings and Divock Origi, while the former Anfield favourite also defended the decision to offer Kolo Touré another contract extension.

The Reds endured a frustratingly inconsistent 2014/15 campaign, with a group stage exit from the Champions League compounded by semi-final defeats in both domestic cup competitions and a failure to retain their place in the top four.

A lack of goals was a crucial factor behind that last failure in particular, with Liverpool's Premier League tally dropping from 101 to just 52 last term as a result of Luis Suarez's move to Barcelona and Daniel Sturridge missing a substantial period of time due to injury trouble.

The latter, who notched 21 times in the league two seasons ago as Brendan Rodgers' side missed out on the title by just two points, has been ruled out for an additional five months after undergoing surgery to fix a persistent hip problem.

As a result, Liverpool are widely expected to refresh their striking options over the coming months with Balotelli, Borini and Lambert having contributed just four top-flight goals between them, but Lawrenson has warned supporters not to expect players of the very highest caliber to arrive as replacements.

"Liverpool's summer transfer plans could hardly be said to have the 'wow' factor," the 57-year-old wrote in his latest column for the Liverpool Echo.

"But that is where the club are at the moment. With no Champions League, we aren't going to bring in Champions League standard players. That's the chicken and egg situation and it's going to be like that for a while.

"On the face of it, the intended overhaul up front would see Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert moved on. In their place would come Christian Benteke, Danny Ings and Divock Origi.

"I think that's an acceptable change that most fans would be happy with, particularly when they reconcile themselves with the fact the top, top players will almost certainly be avoiding Anfield over the coming months."

Belgian international Origi is already a Liverpool player, of course. Having been signed from Lille for £10m ($15.2m) in July 2014, he was immediately loaned back to Stade Pierre-Mauroy where he has since scored a further 11 goals.

Compatriot Benteke, meanwhile, has been repeatedly linked with a switch to Merseyside after a fine end to the season under Tim Sherwood at Aston Villa. Ings is reportedly being tracked closely by both Liverpool and Tottenham following an impressive run for relegated Burnley.

Specifically discussing Ings, out of contract at Turf Moor in June, Lawrenson added: "I wouldn't regard Ings as a gamble. He's more of a punt, that's the right word. If it comes off, then great. If it doesn't then at least large money hasn't been wasted."

Although a dramatic reduction in goals obviously caused sixth-place Liverpool problems, significant doubts have also been raised by fans and pundits alike regarding a perceived lack of defensive strength.

Only Tottenham, Swansea and Crystal Palace conceded more goals in the top 10 last year and the likes of Dejan Lovren, Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho were rarely at their best as midfielder Emre Can was dropped into the backline.

Rodgers, providing he is trusted with another sizable transfer kitty following the 6-1 final day humiliation at Stoke, is expected to target the arrival of at least two new defenders yet more than a few eyebrows were raised when it was announced that Toure had agreed to extend his stay by a further year.

The 34-year-old, who made just seven Premier League starts last season, is evidently not held in particularly high esteem by some, but Lawrenson believes his experience will prove pivotal to Liverpool moving forward.

"A surprise to some, yes, but it makes sense that Kolo Touré has been given a contract extension," he added.

"Touré knows at this stage in his career he can only hope to be a fourth-choice centre-back and his first-team opportunities will be limited. But he is popular in the dressing room and has been around the block a few times.

"Given the relative lack of experience throughout the squad, such knowhow will prove useful in being passed on next season."