sport

Liverpool set to strengthen

Managing director Ian Ayre is confident Liverpool will be able to attract their top targets in what promises to be a busy summer for the club.

A move to Anfield has become a far more attractive prospect this season with the Reds clear favourites to win the Premier League and already assured of their place in the Champions League.

That marks a huge step up on last term, when they failed to make even the Europa League, but Ayre knows money will need to be spent on the squad this summer if the team is to repeat or better their 2013-14 heroics.

Reports suggest manager Brendan Rodgers will be handed a war chest of around 60m to add to his options, made up mainly of the money Liverpool will receive for reaching Europe's top club competition.

"There is no question we always expected that the squad we need for next season will be very different to the squad that we have needed for this year when we were not playing in Europe," Ayre said.

"It will cost what it costs when we decide who the manager wants to buy. That has always been on the cards. It is fairly obvious that we set out with an ambition to get into the Champions League.

"It has always been tougher in the transfer market when you are not competing at the highest level. We had the issue with Luis (Suarez) last summer because he wanted to play in the best games against the best players. That is always a factor.

"We have always been fortunate to be able to bring great players here despite that but there is no question it opens up a few doors for us and makes it a little bit easier.

Liverpool are five points clear of Chelsea at the Premier League summit following Sunday's win over Norwich - though third-placed Manchester City, a point further back, have a game in hand.

"What we achieved on Sunday was massive," said Ayre. "This isn't just about getting in the qualifiers. We are guaranteed Champions League football.

"It is an unbelievable achievement from where we were. It is what we set out for but if you were taking bets at the start of the season, you'd have said fourth place would be a great achievement. Now we are guaranteed third and we are determined to push on."