Liverpool are planning a summer move for Udinese striker Luis Muriel. Goal.com believes the Colombian international could be a replacement for fellow South American Luis Suarez, whom the Mirror has linked with Real Madrid.
Brendan Rodgers has reportedly completed the £7.7m signing of Iago Aspas. However, the agreement to bring the 25-year-old Celta Vigo star to Anfield is understood to be independent of a move for Muriel.
Muriel has had a good season with the club, scoring 11 goals from 15 Serie A starts. He scored once and created a second in Udinese's emphatic 5-2 defeat of Inter Milan, on the final matchday of the Italian top flight. His goals have also ensured Francesco Guidolin's side will compete in the UEFA Europa League next season.
The Italians value their star in excess of £15m and that is unlikely to change very drastically, especially since he is contracted to the Stadio Friuli side till 2017. Budget constraints would normally make Rodgers think twice about this transfer, since he reportedly has only £20m in hand.
However, the Reds' coffers will be boosted by any sale involving Suarez. Both Madrid and Champions League winners Bayern Munich have shown interest in the £25m Uruguayan.
If Suarez were to leave Anfield, Rodgers would be left with England international Daniel Sturridge and Italian Fabio Borini. And if the Northern Irishman is serious about a Champions League challenge next season, he must know he needs top quality attacking players up front.
Sturridge, Suarez and winter signing Philippe Coutinho formed an impressive attacking trio in the final months of this season and, ideally, Liverpool fans would like them to continue. If that is not possible, then, for a club on a budget, the signings of Aspas and Muriel - referred to as the "Colombian Ronaldo" - could provide a reasonable alternative.
Muriel, however, has other ideas. The South American has said he would prefer to remain in Italy and continue his development before moving abroad.
"I want to stay in Udine for another couple of years. I have learnt so much here from boss Francesco Guidolin. Scoring 10 goals was the objective and I got 11, that is very satisfying. I managed to achieve two targets, seeing as the other was to help Udinese qualify for next season's Europa League," he explained to Gazzetta dello Sport.