At the time of writing we are just five days away from when the Premier League transfer window officially opens. The 2016-2017 season now seems like little more than a distant memory, with all eyes turning onto the players that Jürgen Klopp will hope to bring in before August arrives and we start all over again. Some Liverpool supporters are already having kittens over our ‘lack of activity’ because Manchester City have spent £43 million bringing in Bernardo Silva from Monaco. Never mind that none of Tottenham, Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal have made signings; City have and Liverpool haven’t so it’s ‘FSG Out’ time already.Throughout the summer I’ll be writing weekly transfer rumour round-up pieces, trawling through the various websites so that you don’t have to. I’ll try to make sure that they’re at least semi-plausible, but sometimes getting involved in a bit of nonsense can be quite fun. To make things clearer regarding the reliability of the rumour I’ll add a Likelihood Score out of 10. This is based on nothing more than my own instinct. Unlike some Liverpool blogs desperate for Retweets and followers, I don’t pretend to be ‘In The Know’. In fact, I hate people who claim to know what’s going on because their sister’s best mate’s hairdresser cuts Kenny Dalglish’s hair.
What Do We Need?
I think it’s fair to say that this Liverpool squad’s weaknesses are reasonably well-known. The manager seems quite happy using James Milner at left-back moving forward, however much that might make some of us want to pull our hair out. For that reason I think we’re unlikely to go big on a left-sided full-back, though I do think we’ll bring in someone that can act as a back-up to the former Aston Villa, Leeds and Manchester City midfielder. Rightly or wrongly, the German also seems to be happy enough with his goalkeeper, so I can’t see us buying anyone in for the number one slot.
Instead our concentration at the back is on a central defender, someone to rotate in with Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip when either of them are injured. Given that they seem to drop out of the starting line-up with a degree of consistency, a new defender is likely to start regularly. Whether we look for more than one man at the back will depend entirely on the futures of Lucas Leiva and Ragnar Klavan, as well as the perceived development of Joe Gomez after his recovery from injury. For now it seems safe enough to assume that a first-choice centre-back and a second-choice left-back are all we’ll be in the market for, but that could change as the summer goes on.
In the middle of the park there’s definitely a chance that Jürgen Klopp will be looking to add a body or two. As supporters we simply have no idea how bad or otherwise Jordan Henderson’s injury is. Having missed a large chunk of the last two seasons, the manager will have to make a big decision on the future of his captain. Can we get a full campaign out of him? Or will it be yet another year of touch-and-go regarding the former Sunderland man? If it’s the latter than we will need to think about bringing in a replacement as well as another player just to strengthen our squad.
It’s the forward slots where I’m expecting to see the most work done this summer. Our disappointing form when Sadio Mané dropped out for the African Cup of Nations and then his injury was alarming, so Klopp will be looking to ensure that we don’t look so toothless up front in the future. We are terribly one-paced when the Senegalese winger is missing from the starting line-up, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see us go for pace, pace and more pace. Up-front the manager has some questions to answer, too. Can he depend on Divock Origi when the chips are down? Does he think the Belgian’s developing enough? That’s to say nothing of the eternal question surrounding Daniel Sturridge’s future.
I think how many attacking players we bring in will depend largely on the manager’s plans for formations next year. If he’s planning to persist with the 4-3-3 style of football we played last season then he’s unlikely to go too hot and heavy for an out-and-out striker, instead looking for another player who can inter-change with Firmino and Mané and work well with the likes of Coutinho and Lallana. Again, this feels like something that will become clearer as the transfer window wears on.
The Runners And Riders Of The Rumour Mill
Now that we know what Klopp is likely to be looking for, let’s have a look at the players that are rumoured to be heading out of the exit door at Melwood as well as the ones that some people think might be arriving…
Anyone who saw his speech on the final day of the season will have felt that it seemed something like a goodbye from Lucas Leiva, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see him depart for pastures new in the coming weeks. The Brazilian has spent ten years at Anfield and would almost certainly like to stay if the manager can find a use for him, but that all depends on how much game time he’ll be hoping to get. Last summer Galatasaray made a move for him and there were rumours earlier in the year that they’ll return this time around, so that’s one possible exit strategy. Might Klopp want to keep him as a fourth choice centre-back or ask him to join the staff? It remains to be seen.
Likelihood Rating: 6/10
Even if we forgive Mamadou Sakho for taking pills without consulting the medical team, he was late numerous times and interrupted the manager when he was filming a piece on the pre-season trip to America. That might seem like small fry but discipline is important, so his decision to celebrate with Christian Benteke when the forward scored a goal for the Eagles at Anfield last season won’t have gone down well with Jürgen Klopp. That the Reds conceded 83 goals in 56 games with Sakho in the team will make the German’s decision a bit easier, too. Steve Parish said that the Frenchman is ‘too expensive’ for Palace earlier this month, but I think that’s just a negotiating tactic. They said the same thing about Benteke too, after all. Sakho’s gone, it’s just a question of who he’s going to.
Likelihood Rating: 10/10
Despite being named in the worst team of the 2014-2015 Ligue 1 season back when he was playing for Lille, rumours have emerged of both Monaco and Lyon wanting to take Divock Origi back to France this summer. Given that Monaco are almost certainly going to lose Kylian Mbappe this summer, it makes sense that they’ll want to bring someone in who could replace him. Likewise Alexandre Lacazette will be leaving Lyon, hence their interest in our Belgian frontman. Whether Origi’s still in Red next season will depend on whether or not Klopp thinks he can keep developing him.
Likelihood Rating: 5/10
At times this season it’s looked as if James Milner completely lacked the ability to run. Klopp has played him as much as humanly possible, with the manager’s refusal to turn to Alberto Moreno on the bench a clear indication of the fact that he doesn’t trust him. If he had turned to him, of course, he’ll just have seen him tossing a bottle around and trying to get it to land straight up. Part of the reason we’ve pursued Ryan Sessignon this summer is because Moreno has no future at the club. If he’s here next season I’ll eat my hat.
Likelihood Rating: 9/10
There are other players likely to depart Anfield this summer, with names like Kevin Stweart, Connor Randall and Andre Wisdom likely to be on their way. The ‘ins’ are always far more interesting than the ‘outs’, though, so I’ll have a look at some of the biggest names we’ve been linked with so far.
It’s not exactly unheard of José Mourinho to completely misjudge a player and freeze him out in order to make a point, so I wouldn’t read too much into Mohamed Salah’s less than stellar Chelsea career. The winger has been excellent for Roma in a league known for its defensive strength, so I’m excited by the rumours of his impending signing. The president of Roma, James Pallotta, ruled out a move this week, but that strikes me as little more than a negotiating tactic over Salah’s price. Plenty of reputable sources say we’ve already agreed personal terms, so it seems like a matter of when rather than if, now.
Likelihood Rating: 10/10
Virgil van Dijk
Unless you’ve been flipping onto this page and pressing refresh every 5 minutes you won’t know this, but I’ve updated this section of the page three times since I first wrote it. To begin with I was going off the Mirror’s story that City looked likely to win his signature, then I talked about how the price for him to join Liverpool had swung dramatically from 5/2 to 1/10, before finally settling on this update. According to local, trusted journos such as Paul Joyce, plus Andy Hunter in the Guardian, van Dijk told friends on Monday that Liverpool was his preferred destination.
With the club willing to pay around £60 million for his services as well as £200,000 to the player in wages, it looks as though it’s now nothing more than a matter of time before it’s officially announced. It’s a major coup for Jürgen Klopp, with the player’s decision to choose us over the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City a real signal of intent from the club. It will hopefully tell other players we’re interested in that we’re not messing about this summer and are determined to push on to the next level next season. The ‘FSG Out’ brigade are suddenly rather quiet…
Likelihood Rating: 10/10
The Reds are very keen indeed on signing Naby Keita from Red Bull Leipzig, with the midfielder offering a box-to-box prowess that we could desperately do with when up against the ‘smaller’ teams of the Premier League. Liverpool want to sign him for around £37 million, but if Leipzig are to be persuaded to let him go then they’ll demand closer to £50 million. The player himself has spoken of his excitement about playing in the Champions League with Leipzig next season, arguably dealing a blow to the Reds’s hopes of signing him. I still think he’ll come, however, and that this is all part of the dance during transfer season.
I mentioned Alexandre Lacazette earlier in relation to Lyon’s reported desire to sign Divock Origi, but what I didn’t say is that Liverpool are one of the teams reportedly keen on signing the Frenchman. The hitman, who scored an incredible 28 goals in 30 league appearances last season, was supposed to be signing for Atletico Madrid before the Spanish club was handed a transfer ban. Now that move is off and the Reds are reportedly ready to swoop with a £60 million offer for his services. Apparently we’re likely to meet with his representatives next week, which excites me very much indeed.
Likelihood Rating: 7/10