Former Liverpool midfielder Steve McManaman has told ESPN FC it would be "a bit of a disaster" if Jurgen Klopp's side failed to finish in the top four this season.
Liverpool are currently fifth in the Premier League, out of the Champions League qualification spots.
Prior to last weekend's victory over Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool had won one game in 10 and crashed out of both cup competitions in January.
McManaman, who made 364 appearances for Liverpool between 1990 and 1999, believes Klopp would have a hard time recruiting elite players in the summer if the club did not secure Champions League football.
He said: "If they finish fourth then it will be considered a success.
"If they finish fifth, sixth, seventh or even eighth like they did last year, it will be a bit of a disaster because they went out of the two cup competitions in January and they went out rather meekly.
"People are gambling on the Champions League. There's no excuses now. There's one game a week, they've got 15 days since their last game until their next game.
"There's plenty of rest and time for them to recharge their batteries and get their bodies back in shape."
Klopp has taken his squad to a warm-weather training camp in Spain before they return to action on Feb. 27.
And McManaman added: "There's no excuses for Jurgen Klopp. He'll have to finish in the top four or the weight of the pressure will start to come on his shoulders.
"If you get into the top four, your targets in the transfer market become a lot better because people want to come and join Liverpool -- that's no problem at all.
"If you're not in the Champions League, you will get players that will say: 'I love Liverpool but I'm not going there because they're not in the Champions League. I will go to a better team who is at the highest level.'"