So, the Champions League final then. Are we all over it now? We’re all over it, aren’t we? I mean, we’re not over it over it, but we’re getting there. Except, we’re probably not, are we? I thought I’d take this introduction to make a couple of points, clear a couple of things up. For starters, there’s no question in my mind that Sergio Ramos intended to hurt Mohamed Salah when they tussled for the ball. I’ve been amazed at some people declaring it to be debatable whether there was any intention and think that David Squires absolutely nailed it in his latest piece for the Guardian. If you missed it, Squires wrote, “It’s hard to judge whether Sergio Ramos intended to hurt Salah unless you have followed his career to even a cursory degree”.
We all knew that Ramos would attempt something like this heading into the final, especially given that he’s attempted exactly the same thing on other players as recently as the quarter-final. Yet somehow we’re supposed to believe that it was purely accidental? Don’t be so ridiculous. His intentional elbow on Loris Karius at the start of the second-half is proof of that. Don’t get me wrong, the petitions about it and other such things are an absolute nonsense. Yet I’ve been frustrated to hear intelligent football people who should know better discuss it as though it was purely accidental and we should all just shrug our shoulders. Nothing’s going to change, but it’s perfectly ok to say that he’s a cheat and that Liverpool had gone toe-to-toe with the best team in Europe for half an hour before the Spaniard decided to intentionally injure our best player because he couldn’t beat him legally.I also don’t buy into the idea that ‘everyone would want that sort of player on their team’. I wouldn’t want someone like that anywhere near Liverpool Football Club. There’s a difference between the ‘dark arts’, such as time-wasting and getting a player booked by play-acting, and actively hoping to cause them physical injury in order to take them out of the game. People point towards Steven Gerrard, yet when he came onto the pitch against Manchester United and stamped on Ander Herrera, he was widely condemned by most sensible Liverpool fans. Likewise Luis Suarez used to push his game to the edge, but when he did things that went beyond the pale no one on Merseyside was slow to condemn him for it. The Champions League is over and done with and Sergio Ramos and his Madrid teammates have the winners medals. Yet they’ll all know that that particular win will forever be tainted by the disgusting play of one man and the winds of fortune that blew their way.
The Runners And Riders Of The Rumour Mill
As I say, that’s just something that I wanted to get off my chest about the Champions League final. It’s over and done with now, though, so we move on and look forward to the rest of the season. One way that we can all get excited is by improving the squad, with Michael Edwards and his behind-the-scenes team proving in the last few transfer windows that they know exactly what they’re doing in their air-conditioned office. Here’s a look at what the papers say they’ve been up to this week…
No question that the best way to bounce back from a heart-breaking defeat in the final of the Champions League is by bringing in a top-class player to cheer every up. Could we do it?
Fábio Henrique Tavares
Where else to start but with a look at our latest signing? Better known as Fabinho, Fábio Henrique Tavares is a Brazilian central midfielder that we’ve signed from Monaco for a fee believed to be in the region of £40 million. The manager summed up how exciting it all is when he said, “He has ability and mentality to play at the highest level in a number of positions. He can play ‘six’, ‘eight’ and ‘two’. This is cool”. That sounds a little bit like we’ve signed three players in one, whilst in reality he’ll almost certainly end up playing as the deepest lying midfielder. Some weirdos are celebrating that as a sign that Jordan Henderson will be dropping out of the squad, but I think they’re grossly under-estimating how much the manager loves his captain.
“This is something that I always wanted – this is a giant of a team. The infrastructures of the club look exceptional.” 🙌
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) 28 May 2018
Aside from anything else, the former-Sunderland man was never a number six but has done an excellent job filling in there in the last couple of seasons. Fabinho is a specialist defensive-midfielder, meaning that Henderson can be released to go further forward. If you are one of those that wants to see the back of the club captain, it might be worth asking yourself whether you complained about our lack of depth against Real Madrid on Saturday. If so, it might be worth realising that the only way that you change that is by having as many quality players in the squad at the same time as you can. Jordan Henderson definitely ticks that box, so the signing of Fabinho is likely to be seen by Klopp as a bolstering of the midfield rather than a new look to it. The exception to that is likely to be Emre Can, of course, whose departure we’re all expecting to be announced any day now.
Now that we’ve talked about the player we’ve definitely signed, let’s have a little look at the one’s we’re being linked with. Some journalists have already tweeted that they expect more business from Liverpool before the week’s out, so this entire section might be null and void within moments of me pressing ‘publish’…
It’s definitely too soon to be referring to this one as a ‘saga’, but I do get the feeling that I might have to resist the urge to write about Nabil Fekir every week until we’ve either signed him or he’s gone elsewhere. This time it’s only correct for me to write about him, given that our new signing practically issued a ‘go and get him plea’ before the ink on his contract had even dried. When asked about his former Ligue 1 rival the Monaco man said, “If he comes, it will be good too”.Many believe that that is the next player on our hit list and the French newspaper L’Equipe claimed earlier in the week that the Reds would open talks with Lyon this week in advance of a move worth around £53 million to the French club. How much truth their is in that obviously remains to be seen, with the Fabinho news proving that this might well be a summer full of surprised. None of the usual chancer-accounts who like to make up rumours had any idea that a transfer was in the pipeline, so might we also only find out that we’ve signed the attacking midfielder once the deal is already done?
Likelihood Rating: 9/10
There’s another name that feels like we’re likely to be linked to it time and time again, that of Christian Pulisic. You can absolutely understand why the club would be keen on signing him. Not only is he a talented player in his own right with an incredibly strong mentality, given many think he’s likely to be the US soccer team’s future captain, he’s also young enough to tick all of both FSG and Jürgen Klopp’s boxes. There’s also the ability to break into the American market that comes with him signing.
No surprise, therefore, that more talk about the Dortmund man cropped up again as soon as the transfer window opened. This time it’s his own dad that’s doing the talking, telling Sky Sports News, “He was linked to Tottenham. Last week it was Liverpool. The week before Man United. The week before this… it’s hogwash”. How much ‘hogwash’ is involved remains to be seen, given that he went on to say that they’re currently looking at what the ‘best phase of his next development will be’. That’s far from a denial of a move, so keep your eye on how this develops.
Likelihood Rating: 6/10
The last name I’ll mention this week is that of Alisson. The Roma goalkeeper might have conceded seven goals against us in the Champions League but it was widely felt that he couldn’t have done a lot about any of them. He’s a player that suits our style of play better than most other goalkeepers but has more experience and maturity than Loris Karius. Rumours about the necessity to replace the German were always likely to rear their head after his Champions League final performance, of course. Personally I still think he’s got a big future and has a lot of the attributes that some clubs will look for in a shot-stopper. I’m not entirely sure he won’t be our reserve ‘keeper next season, too.
Yet there’s no arguing that he’s lost the faith of Liverpool supporters after the manner in which he essentially handed the club’s biggest game in a decade to the Real Madrid on a silver platter. As a consequence, it seems almost impossible for Klopp to go into next season without replacing Karius. Given that Simon Mignolet is also likely to leave, that means that we’ll need a definite starter to come in and the choices are limited. The two names that are being bandied about are Alisson and Jan Oblak, with Roma saying this week that Alisson’s future will be decided after the World Cup and slapping a £79 million price tag on him. Will that remain so high as the summer wears on? We’ll see.
Likelihood Rating: 4/10
Unsurprisingly, there are far fewer rumours about players departing Anfield than there are ones about those likely to arrive. That’s likely to be because any players leaving will be doing so because the manager no longer requires their services rather than big clubs think they can buy them. The only exception to that is Emre Can, but I think the German will have left by next week’s column so I cant be bothered writing about him this week. There is one name that’s on the list, though…
Having literally just mentioned the rumours linking us with Alisson (and it’s worth noting we’re also being linked with Alex McCarthy, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Jan Oblak, to name but three ‘keepers), it’s not a shock to see the name of Loris Karius reaching the pen nib of some journalists. I’m not entirely sure there’s a whole heap of credence with this particular link though, if I’m being honest. According to the Guardian, newly promoted Serie C side Rimini have offered him the chance of a loan move.
As I said before, I think Karius has got a lot of attributes that will attract clubs to him, having shown this season that he’s a far more talented shot-stopper than most people are giving him credit for. He made two ginormous mistakes on the biggest stage in club football, yet I think suggesting he’ll move to the Italian third-tier is a little bit of a mickey take. Far more likely is the idea that he remains at Anfield next season and is used in the League Cup or the FA Cup before either rehabilitating himself or being moved on. Whatever happens, I genuinely think he’s got a big future ahead of him – provided he can cope mentally with Saturday night.
Likelihood Rating: 1/10
Exciting transfer news will always win people around, so I’m not surprised that the mood after last weekend’s defeat already seems to have lifted in the wake of the Fabinho news. It also means we can spend every day expecting an exciting an announcement to come from the club, which I think is brilliant. Have we signed anyone else yet?
Until next week…