What a difference a week makes in the world of transfer rumours, hey? No sooner had a pressed ‘Publish’ on my piece last week did news break that the bookmakers had slashed the odds on Virgil van Dijk joining Liverpool from Southampton. I updated the piece, went back to Twitter and five minutes later it emerged that the player had confirmed that Anfield was his preferred destination, explaining exactly why those odds had been slashed. The following day the whole thing was thrown into turmoil once more when Southampton confirmed that they’d complained to the Football Association about us tapping up the player!
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) June 6, 2017
That, of course, caused some Liverpool supporting heads to go entirely, suddenly convinced that we’d be banned from making any signings whatsoever in the coming summer. It’s an odd stance from Saints, presumably annoyed that they didn’t get the bidding war they wanted between Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea that would have caused van Dijk’s price to shoot up astronomically. The problem they’ve got is that they’re a stepping stone club, so if they block the Dutchman from moving to us why would other players head there in the future? From a Liverpool point of view van Dijk’s decision should be seen as a massive boost to confidence, with other players now taking note of the fact that we’re not messing around.
If you’re interested to read more about what I think of the van Dijk situation then you’re in luck – I’ve written a full piece on it you can find here. The long and short of it is that I think there’s still some way to go until this particular tale is entirely told. Admittedly, in my transfer piece last week I did say I thought the van Dijk deal was as good as done, then I had to re-assess it down to a 6/10 when everything fell apart. Still, I wouldn’t bet against the player ending up at Anfield before the end of the summer.
The Runners And Riders Of The Rumour Mill
So, do any of the rumours I mentioned last week need reassessing seven days down the line? van Dijk is the obvious one, but as I wrote a full column on him the other day I’ll leave that for now. If nothing needs to be looked at afresh, are there any new names that have entered contention since I last looked?
So this is one I mentioned last week and it isn’t exactly a shocker, with Mamadou Sakho haven’t burnt his bridges with Jürgen Klopp a long time ago. What makes the new rumour interesting, however, is the suggestion that the Frenchman might be used as a makeweight in any potential move for Virgil van Dijk. So the story goes, Southampton were interested in Sakho back in January but our valuation of £30 million put them off. The former PSG captain ended up at Crystal Palace, of course, where he impressed in a deeper lying midfield. The thing that might make this move unlikely in the immediate is the fact that Claude Puel is likely to be relieved of his managerial duties at St. Mary’s at any moment, so player movements will likely be delayed until a replacement is found.
Likelihood Rating: 4/10
So Sakho is the only major out that’s been discussed in the press, but what of the ins? Are there any big names that might be wearing Red next season? Who should we all be watching YouTube clips of at the earliest opportunity?
Last week I rated our move for Mohamed Salah as a 10/10, suggesting it was as good as done. There has been little movement since then, with reports suggesting that Liverpool and Roma have failed to reach a fee for his services. For my money that all seemed very much like a negotiating stance over the finer details, with the Reds likely to be trying to bring Roma down a couple of million pounds and the Italian club doing the opposite. Well the latest rumour is that the deal is done and will be announced after Egypt play Tunisia on Sunday night. In fact, it could even have been confirmed by the time you’re reading this. Fingers crossed!
Likelihood Rating: 10/10
Have you heard the one about Liverpool trying to sign a player from Southampton? Stop me if you’ve heard it before… Not content with winding the Saints hierarchy up over van Dijk to the point that they’ve reported us to the Premier League, new rumours have emerged that we’re keen on signing Dusan Tadic. The Serbian international is believed to have a release clause in his contract of £13 million, meaning we could get him for a knock-down price. He hasn’t started much under Puel and has apparently told friends that he’d love a move to Anfield. Not surprising, given he’d know everyone there if we keep going at this rate. At some point someone at Liverpool Football Club might want to consider the possibility of just signing the Southampton scouts and getting it over with.
Likelihood Rating: 3/10
This is the rumour that just won’t go away. Despite having a scoring record of something like three goals in a hundred and thirty-six seasons, Jürgen Klopp is apparently desperate to sign Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal. The England midfielder is another player with only a year left on his contract and is apparently useful right the way across the middle, so I can see some sort of sense in the move. That said, I’ve heard £40 million as a figure being bandied about and that strikes me as complete and utter bobbins. Given that’s only a pound less than Arsenal offered for Suarez, I can’t see us going above even half of that figure. We’ll see though, I suppose.
Likelihood Rating: 6/10
eighteen-year-old Kylian Mbappe scored twenty-six goals in forty-four games for Monaco last season, making him one of the hottest properties in Europe. Klopp has long had an interest in the French forward and now it seems that the German has told the midfielder’s representatives that he’ll be the focal point of his Liverpool team. I’m not entirely sure that Monaco need to sell him and even if they do he’ll likely go for in excess of £100 million. That would almost certainly price him out of Liverpool’s range, so it doesn’t seem a realistic rumour to me. Then again, both the manager and the owners have been talking about showing ambition this summer and I’m not sure there’s a more ambitious move we could make.
Likelihood Rating: 3/10
Werder Bremen have finally agreed the sale of Serge Gnabry to Bayern Munich, meaning that the German giants now have an excess of forwards in the squad. Costa signed for them from Shakhtar Donetsk back in 2015 and has three years left to run on his contract, so he won’t be a cheap acquisition. Both Juventus and Barcelona are keen on him too, so Liverpool will have to offer an attractive package to lure him to Anfield. He’s almost certainly going to be leaving the Allianz Arena this summer, though, having said recently, “I’m not always that happy here. But soon we will find a situation”. I don’t see it happening, but I’m bang on board with us signing as many fast and exciting attackers as financially possible this summer.
Likelihood Rating: 6/10
This is one that makes some sort of sense to me. All of the indications are that Jürgen Klopp will stick with James Milner as his first-choice left-back next season, so a back-up to the midfielder turned wingback is a crucial addition this summer. With Alberto Moreno likely to be on his way out of the club and Ryan Sessegnon seemingly choosing Spurs over us, the links to Hull’s Andrew Robertson have become more frequent. I’m not entirely convinced the stories that we’re set to announce his signature as soon as the window officially opens are true, but I can absolutely see us talking to the Tigers over the 23-year-old. After all, Hull have been relegated and he’s only got a year left on his contract.
Likelihood Rating: 7/10
Stefan de Vrij
Another case of ‘stop me if you’ve heard this one before’ here, with the Reds rumoured to be keen on signing a Dutch centre-back who wants to leave his current club this summer. No, I’m talking about van Dijk, but instead his international team-mate Stefan de Vrij. That’s who Liverpool have reportedly turned their attention on since ‘abandoning’ their chase for the Southampton player. de Vrij has told Lazio that he won’t be signing a contract extension, meaning that he’d be allowed to leave for free next summer. The Italian club are keen on avoiding that scenario, so they’ll likely cash in whilst they can on the twenty-five-year-old. We desperately need to improve our defensive options this summer, so as long as we sign one Dutchman or the other I’ll be happy.
Likelihood Rating: 4/10
Not a ‘player we might be signing’ story this time, more of a ‘player we definitely won’t be signing’ tale. Lazio’s Balde Keita is set to sign for the Italian club’s rivals AC Milan, according to the former Barcelona youth player’s agent. The twenty-two-year-old netted sixteen times in Serie A last season and was on our list as an alternative for if the Mohamed Salah deal fell through. The youngster’s only got a year left on his contract at the Stadio Olimpico, so it’s likely that the Biancocolesti have decided to take no chances and get some money for him whilst they can. Still, not all stories can be about us signing a player so it’s only right that I chuck in one that says we’re not signing someone, right?
Likelihood Rating: 1/10
As soon as the football season ends, silly season starts. With no live action to watch, we all start obsessing over the idea of players moving and signings being announced. It’s easy, then, to forget that the international transfer window hasn’t even opened yet and there’s still loads of time to get deals over the line. Hopefully this time next week we’ll have announced Salah; not because I believe it matters all that much, simply because it will appease the fans that have no patience.
Until next week…