Neil Mellor has advised Liverpool to sign a quality striker very early in the transfer window in order to avoid last summer's mistakes.

The Reds allowed Luis Suarez to join Barcelona and replaced him with Mario Balotelli, who arrived from AC Milan in August 2014. The Italian international has struggled to impress, while Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini have failed to get regular playing time.

Daniel Sturridge is set to miss the start of the next season after the England international underwent a hip surgery in May. Divock Origi will return from his loan spell this summer and Mellor is hopeful the 20-year-old could fire for Liverpool.

Despite having the Belgium international as an option to lead the attacking division, Mellor wants Brendan Rodgers to sign a quality striker. He has also urged the former Swansea manager to keep hold of Lambert.

"Our big focus behind the scenes now has to be to get the right pieces of business done - and done early," Mellor told the Liverpool Echo.

"We need at least one striker - and if we don't move quickly and be prepared [to] pay what we might need to get the right candidate for this glaring vacancy at Anfield, then the fear is we'll regret it all over again. And that is unthinkable," he said.

"So we've got to sort it. And sort it fast. Because if we leave it late, as we found ourselves doing last summer, then there's a real danger we'll miss out again."

"There might be stuff going on behind the scenes, maybe plans that are well advanced but that we have not heard of. I sincerely hope so. Because it's mission critical up top for the Reds now," the former Liverpool player said.

"Yes, Divock Origi is on his way and hopefully will add to our goal threat. But we've still got to go and get that one player who can lead the line, hold the ball up and deliver us 20 goals a season. And players like that usually cost.

"I hope Rickie Lambert stays but at his age he is clearly not going to be the long term answer we need. Balotelli just hasn't worked out and I can't see his contribution suddenly changing. And now we hear Daniel Sturridge will miss the start of next season after missing most of this," he concluded.

Liverpool are linked with a move in signing Borussia Dortmund frontman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. He has scored 22 goals and managed 10 assists in all competitions for the German outfit and his arrival could boost the Anfield club's strike force for the next season.