The nearly men: Six players who were inches away from donning Liverpool red

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By Lewis Rooke – @LV_Rooke

It must have been something in the Ayre under the tumultuous reign of Brendan Rodgers that Liverpool became notorious for dragging out transfer sagas throughout a whole window, only for them to fall apart in tatters.

Supposed transfer guru Ian Ayre’s ability to sensually tease and tickle Liverpool fans burning desire for a marquee transfer, only to call a halt on the deal at the last minute and leave you with the bluest of balls became a running theme during his tenure. Here, we take a look at the players who may have been lining up for Liverpool right now had Ayre got his way.

Gylfi Sigurdsson

As Brendan Rodgers arrived at Anfield in 2012, it was expected some of his most trusted lieutenants would follow him over the Welsh border. They sure did with the arrival of both Joe Allen and Fabio Borini, but the player that really tickled Rodgers’ fancy was Icelandic midfielder Sigurdsson.

The prospective transfer of the now Everton man was one that dragged away through the 2012 window, until Tottenham capitalised on Liverpool’s inability to close the deal and brought Sigurdsson to White Hart Lane for £12 million as Liverpool haggled for something closer to £8 million.

Sigurdsson would eventually return to Swansea after an unsuccessful stint with Spurs, where he would go on to prove himself enough to convince Everton to part with almost £50 million to bring him to Goodison Park.

Diego Costa

Before his switch to Chelsea, Diego Costa was a bullish and unproven target man under the tutelage of the equally rugged Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid. Liverpool activated the £25 million buyout clause of the then Brazilian international in 2013, who was expected to play in a front three consisting of himself, Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.

However, Atletico offered Costa a new contract on the back of the clause being activated, thus preventing any possibility of seeing one of the nastiest frontlines in football history.

Costa has since gone on to prove himself a worthy Premier League striker and is now back playing in Madrid under Simeone once again.

Yevhen Konoplyanka

The Ukranian winger seemed to be linked to a move to Liverpool what seemed like an age in 2014, with the Dnipro man one of the most courted players outside of the top leagues in Europe. Together with his comrade Andriy Yarmolenko, they made up a very threatening wing partnership for the Ukraine national team.

Konoplyanka was the subject of a £15 million pound bid from the Merseyside club, with him also going as far as passing a medical and agreeing personal terms. However, the deal came to grinding halt thanks to Dnipro owner Ihor Kolomoyski not signing the transfer paperwork.

Konoplyanka did eventually get his big move, initially to Unai Emery’s Sevilla, however the Ukrainian quickly found himself packing his bags once more with a move to Schalke in the Bundesliga. A bullet dodged?

Loic Remy

Loic Remy looked as much a Liverpool player as any in July 2014 as the Reds agreed an £8 million fee with QPR for the pacey Frenchman with an eye for goal, however the deal collapsed over concerns regarding Remy’s medical.

Looking to replace the void left by the departing Luis Suarez, Brendan Rodgers turned to Mario Balotelli instead to replace the Uruguayan… and we know how that turned out.

The now 31-year-old Remy is now plying his trade back in France with Lille after underwhelming stints with Las Palmas and Chelsea.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Before announcing himself on the world stage, Henrikh Mkhitaryan was an exciting two-footed playmaker at Shakhtar Donetsk. While rumours circulated in 2013 about a mysterious unspellable Armenian potentially arriving at the Kop, the intrigue round his transfer built throughout the whole window, with fans clamouring for the move to add much needed creativity.

However, the deal eventually fell through after Liverpool could not come to terms with the Shakhtar hierarchy, with the Armenian instead being snapped up by none other than Jurgen Klopp for Borussia Dortmund.

Mkhitaryan has since proven himself a useful Premier League player with both Manchester United and Arsenal, but it could have been very different for the 29-year-old.

Alex Teixeira

The Ukrainian league took Ian Ayre’s fancy once more, but this time a deal for Brazilian forward Alex Teixeira was on the table. Teixeira was very heavily linked with a move to Merseyside in January 2016, with Jurgen Klopp looking to make the Shakhtar Donetsk man his focal attacking threat as Christian Benteke continued to misfire.

Liverpool failed to get their hands on the prolific frontman, after offers close to £30 million were rebuffed by the Ukrainians, with the Brazilian instead choosing a hefty pay packet in China with Jiangsu Suning over proper competitive football.

Liverpool, on the other hand, turned to a forward by the name of Sadio Mané instead. The rest, they say, is history.

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