Midweek Sport - - SPORT -

LIVER­POOL are set to step up their pur­suit of Bay­ern Mu­nich­starXher­dan Shaqiri in the next 48 hours.

Reds boss Bren­dan Rodgers is a big fan of the Swiss play­maker and tried to lure him to An­field af­ter a de­cent World Cup show­ing.

Shaqiri turned down a Mersey­side move then in or­der to fight for his place with Bay­ern.

But he has failed to es­tab­lish him­self under Pep Guardiola and has largely been a bit-part player for most of the cam­paign.

The Bun­desliga gi­ants are will­ing to let the 23-year-old go in Jan­uary and In­ter Mi­lan have al­ready of­fered a £2mil­lion loan deal.

But Bay­ern want to sell the player out­right, a sit­u­a­tion which has seen Liver­pool move ahead of the Ital­ian club in the race to land the tal­ented mid­fielder.

The Reds are now pre­par­ing an of­fer in the re­gion of £11m and will meet with the player’s agent, his brother Erdin, in an at­tempt to thrash out a deal.

Should Liver­pool be un­able to lure Shaqiri to An­field, then Rodgers plans to re­vive his in­ter­est in Ukraine star Yevhen Konoplyanka.

The Dnipro winger was on the brink of a switch to Liver­pool 12 months ago, only for the move to col­lapse at the 11th hour.

The Kop club have main­tained an in­ter­est, although dif­fi­cul­ties in ne­go­ti­at­ing with the Ukrainian club last time round means there is some re­luc­tance from the An­field hi­er­ar­chy to en­ter into talks.

Reds de­fender Martin Skr­tel says his team­mates are des­per­ate to win the FA Cup to pro­vide cap­tain Steven Ger­rard with a fit­ting part­ing gift.

Ger­rard an­nounced last week that he will end his long as­so­ci­a­tion with his boy­hood club at the end of the sea­son to play in the USA.

The skip­per turns 35 on the same day as the FA Cup fi­nal, and af­ter their 2-1 win over AFC Wim­ble­don on Mon­day Skr­tel wants Liver­pool to go all the way.

“We want Ste­vie to fin­ish his ca­reer here with another tro­phy,” said the Slo­vakian.

“There is a long way to go in the com­pe­ti­tion, but we will try our best.

“Ste­vie showed how im­por­tant he is for us. He showed his qual­ity with two great goals and proved what a great player he still is.

“He’s been here for such a long time and when he’s not here af­ter this sea­son, it’s go­ing to be dif­fer­ent.

“It won’t be the same. It will be dif­fi­cult with­out him.

“He’s the leader on the pitch. He’s a great player and a nice guy as well.

“We’ll miss him both on and off the pitch. It will be re­ally dif­fi­cult to re­place him.”

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