Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in! That’s how I feel with the state of the current transfer market. We had the Kylian Mbappe saga, Cristiano Ronaldo kicked up a fuss over a potential Real Madrid exit and Manchester United were poised to sign Antoine Griezmann.
It all went quiet, too quiet.
Out of nowhere comes Neymar. The Brazilian had been quiet for most of the summer until news broke that he had demanded out of Barcelona, with Paris Saint-Germain activating his eye-watering £198 million release clause. And so begins the chain reaction of events.
Consequently, Barcelona will be looking for a replacement and have sounded out Philippe Coutinho as just the man for the left flank. Given the current financial climate in football and his importance to Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp is well placed to demand the absolute maximum for his services.
If the Reds were to sell up, Coutinho would demand a sizeable fee, perhaps eclipsing the cost of Paul Pogba. RealSport explain how Liverpool could best spend the money.
Sign Virgil van Dijk
Liverpool participated in the Audi Cup earlier this week and demolished a sub-par Bayern Munich side 3-0 before losing to Atletico Madrid in the final. What the win over the German champions demonstrated, though, was just how devastating their attack can be.
Record signing Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane used their speed and trickery to terrorise the Bayern defence and both finished the game on the scoresheet. As was the case last year, the Reds excelled on the counter-attack and Salah’s injection of speed and creativity will only improve this aspect.
However, it leaves Klopp’s side too top-heavy, with the game-plan boiling down to a ‘you score, we score’ method of thinking. Defending was Liverpool’s undoing in 2016/17 and correcting this should have been priority number one. It seemingly was, until Southampton refused to sell Virgin van Dijk.
With van Dijk wanting out, Liverpool know he’s attainable; it’s just a question of cost. With Coutinho’s money pocketed, the Reds could comfortably pay the inflated asking price and bring the Dutchman to Anfield. He’d go some way to correcting the defensive deficiency and he’s very capable on the ball, fitting in well with Klopp’s ‘play out from the back’ philosophy.
Sign two players
Van Dijk isn’t, however, the be-all and end-all. Despite the need for an improved defence, Klopp made his desire for a central midfielder known after the audaciously large bids to sign RB Leipzig’s Naby Keita.
Again, the player wants the move but the club don’t want to sell. Given he has a clause in his contract pertaining to his departure for £48 million next summer, it’s best to put this on hold.
Selling Coutinho means Klopp will need to replace him, but instead of throwing money at the problem, Liverpool could sign quality as well as quantity by recruiting a midfield to take over the Brazilian’s playmaking duties, as well as another winger to pick up the dribbling slack to support Mane and Salah.
Consequently, Liverpool should turn to Nice’s Jean Michael Seri. He was one of Nice’s brightest sparks as they finished third in Ligue 1 and offers the same level of playmaking ability as Coutinho.
In fact, only Alexis Sanchez, Angel di Maria and Lionel Messi completed more through balls than Seri in Europe’s top five leagues last season. Seri created 73 chances, nearly double Nice’s second-most creative player, and assisted nine goals from midfield.
To replace Coutinho’s dribbling and industry in the final third, Liverpool could turn to Lazio’s Felipe Anderson. The Brazilian has been ‘on the verge’ of a Premier League move for years and seems more ready than ever to do so.
Anderson, too, is creative and fashioned 75 chances from the flank last season and assisted nine goals. His scoring tally of four, though, can be improved on. What will appeal to Klopp is the fact that he completed 117 take-ons and won 75 tackles, more than any other Serie A player. He’d offer an imaginative and industrious presence to Liverpool’s attack.
RealSport verdict: Sign two players
There’s no denying that Liverpool need to upgrade their defence, but in this situation their best bet is to spend any potential Coutinho money on two players; Seri and Anderson. It allows them to sign both quality and quantity.
For Klopp, this is important. He works his team hard throughout the season and they’re going to need to the additional strength in depth to avoid firstly burn-out, secondly to cope with the extra workload of the Champions League and thirdly to ensure they’re deep enough to manage any potential injuries.
Just remember what happened when Mane spent time on the side-line…
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