Reds to splash the cash

Liverpool are planning a summer spending spree to add to their successful squad, with managing director Ian Ayre confident the pull of Champions League football will help them attract their top targets.

Brendan Rodgers' side are favourites for the Premier League title and have already guaranteed themselves a place in next season's Champions League group stage.

That is a huge step up from not playing in Europe at all this term, making them a more attractive destination but also increasing the strain on Rodgers' resources.

"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 (above) 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."

Former Liverpool star Luis Garcia believes Reds captain Steven Gerrard is one of the club's greatest players and deserves to finally lift the Premier League trophy this season.

The league title is the only club honour to evade Gerrard and ex-teammate Garcia, who was a key member of the club's 2005 Champions League-winning team, is confident the Reds have the title in the bag.

"There is no way I can see Liverpool losing this title now and Stevie deserves to win it," the Spaniard said.

"He's one of the greatest Liverpool players and also one of the biggest players in the history of English football.

"The team have a great chance to increase the gap at the top this weekend.

"A win against Chelsea will be very important for them and I think they're going to get it."

- PA Sport.

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