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Fabregas: Ref had a bad day

Chelsea
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 By Mike Whalley

Liverpool eye top transfer targets

Managing director Ian Ayre believes that Liverpool's qualification for the Champions League will enable them to land their top transfer targets this summer.

Liverpool struggled to attract talent like Henrikh Mkhitaryan without playing in the Champions League.

Reports suggest that manager Brendan Rodgers will be given one of the biggest budgets in the club's history this summer -- possibly more than 50 million pounds -- to strengthen his squad for a European campaign.

Sunday's 3-2 victory at Norwich ensured Liverpool will go straight into the group stages of next season's Champions League, a competition in which they last played in 2009-10.

A tally of seven points or more from their final three matches of the season will see the Reds go into the competition as Premier League champions.

Liverpool have had mixed fortunes in the transfer market over the last 12 months, managing to ward off Arsenal's interest in Luis Suarez last summer but also losing out to Borussia Dortmund for midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan and to Chelsea for both Willian and Mohamed Salah.

Ayre also came in for criticism after failing to complete the signing of Ukraine winger Yevhen Konoplyanka from Dnipro in January -- although that is a deal that could be revisited in the summer.

Liverpool's inability to offer Champions League football has put them at a disadvantage when trying to sign big-name players, but Ayre feels that the club's pulling power is about to increase.

He told British national newspapers: "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.

"Even when you step through that door, there are still a lot of others trying to get the same players.

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

"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. That has always been on the cards.

"What we achieved on Sunday was massive. 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. It is all important for what we are trying to achieve."

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