By Hassan Talib Haji
Liverpool have stepped up their pursuit of Schalke youngster Lewis Holtby with a view to securing the 22-year-old on a free transfer next summer.
Goal.com understands that the Reds are keen to talk to Holtby in January after having reignited their interest in the in-form Bundesliga midfielder, whose father is from Merseyside.
Schalke have made clear that they would be willing to keep hold of the former Alemannia Aachen youngster until the end of the season, knowing that they would only be able to yield around €7 million (£5.5m) if they were to sell him in January before he becomes available on a Bosman deal.
The Anfield outfit previously monitored Everton fan Holtby following Brendan Rodgers' arrival on Merseyside, as was exclusively revealed by Goal.com in July.
Holtby, who has also been linked with Tottenham in recent months, is considered to be a technically-gifted passer of the ball in Germany, and fits Liverpool's current recruitment model of signing young, cheap players with obvious future resale value.
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The 22-year-old has made no secret of his interest in a move to the Premier League, admitting to Goal.com in July that playing for an English side was a goal of his.
Despite Liverpool's interest in the Schalke star, bolstering their striking options remains a priority ahead of the January transfer window and means they are in no rush to push through a move for Holtby.
"Liverpool only really have their eyes on a goalscorer when it comes to signings in January after missing out on deadline day in summer," a source close to the club told Goal.com.
The lack of firepower in Rodgers' squad was highlighted again as the Reds struggled to capitalise on a dominant performance against Reading on Saturday, picking up a 1-0 win thanks to a Raheem Sterling strike.
Darren Bent and Daniel Sturridge have been highlighted as potential targets by Anfield officials in recent weeks, with both players likely to be available within Liverpool's January budget of approximately £10m-£12m.
Rodgers previously made a desperate attempt to sign Sturridge on loan in the closing hours of the summer transfer window, but the Chelsea man is only interested in a permanent move away from west London with the Stamford Bridge hierarchy reluctant to extend his £65,000-a-week deal.