LIVERPOOL have been linked with a string of players since the end of the 2016-17 season from the implausible to the nailed on, from Championship youngsters to internationally-coveted wonder-kids.
While some potential deals have fallen by the wayside in that time, there are several players that could yet be booking in Melwood medicals before the window slams shut on August 31.
But as we count down to the return of football, who can we expect to see leaning at the training ground in the not so distant future and what is mere pie in the sky? What are credible links that could happen and what have been dreamed up in the back bedroom of a follower-seeking Twitter addict? Here, we rate the rumours so far.
Virgil van Dijk
The story so far: Perhaps the most publicised of Liverpool’s nearly dealings this summer, which ultimately saw The Reds fall flat on their face. The alleged tapping up of Southampton’s star man and their subsequent reporting of Liverpool to the Premier League seemed to have signalled the end of road for a potential deal.
However, the noises coming from several journalists on the Merseyside patch suggest that a deal could be revived but it would hinge on Chelsea opening up the bidding for the Dutchman, in which case Southampton may be forced to listen to offers from Liverpool. Alternatively it’s been suggested that van Dijk himself could force through a move away from St. Mary’s.
Rating: 6/10. Could yet go either way. The player wants the move, Liverpool want the move, Southampton want to save face.
The story so far: Would be the most likely of the alternative options to van Dijk but it may be another player Liverpool will have to do battle with Chelsea for. Though slightly older than van Dijk, Koulibaly possesses similar attributes in terms of height and athleticism.
Several outlets reported interest in Koulibaly as a backup if the van Dijk deal were to fall through, and since that appears to have happened it isn’t inconceivable that Liverpool would pursue a deal for the Senegalese international. However any move would depend on whether Jürgen Klopp sees him as an upgrade on the options he already has at his disposal, as that was the basis on which the club went after van Dijk.
Rating: 3/10. Despite the debacle over van Dijk it still seems more likely than this deal with reports and links becoming ever more distant and infrequent.
Stefan De Vrij
The story so far: Sky Italia had this Dutch international down as another potential alternative to van Dijk, with reports suggesting a 20 million euro bid had been rejected.
However, as that story didn’t seem to make it out of the gossip columns it has to be taken with a pinch of salt. While he seems a gettable option, similar to the Koulibaly situation it’s down to whether Klopp sees him as an upgrade.
Rating: 2/10. Slightly lower rating than the Koulibaly rumours based on the reliability of the reports. Not been mentioned as a credible link for beards.
The story so far: This one would appear to depend on what happens with Alberto Moreno’s future at the club. James Pearce wrote in The Liverpool Echo that Moreno may yet indicate that he wants to stay and fight for his place and that may prevent The Reds moving for Robertson.
But given the Spaniard’s limited first-team opportunities in the last campaign it’s hard to see him settling for the same in 2017-18. Robertson would provide a solid option, likely as a backup to James Milner, and if his time at Dundee is anything go by, he has a higher ceiling than most supporters would believe. He’d definitely be an interesting purchase for Klopp.
Rating: 7/10. Seems the most viable replacement but it’s all up to Moreno now.
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The story so far: Seemed a non-starter given he’s a top target for Manchester City but reports in France said that Liverpool were one of the clubs to have made a serious offer for the left-back.
Whether that’s agent games to get City to make a move quickly remains to be seen but given that Klopp was mostly happy with Milner’s contribution last season it seems unlikely The Reds will be splashing out in that position.
Rating: 2/10. Fully expect him to be a Manchester City player by the end of the window.
The story so far: At first hope seemed faint; Leipzig weren’t looking to sell their stars and their financial backing meant they didn’t need to. Liverpool have always maintained their interest since the links were first made and Leipzig did seem to be taking steps back.
First there were reports that they would accept a fee in the region of €80m for the Guinean midfielder, then Keita was apparently open to the idea of a move to Liverpool and there has been substantial paper talk since then. Whatever happens Leipzig’s stance hasn’t changed much so Keita may need to force their hand if The Reds are to get their man.
Rating: 8/10. Definitely one to keep an eye on.
The story so far: A name that has been linked with Liverpool a few times but never have the links been quite so prominent as now. With a year left on his contract with Arsenal, and with him reportedly turning down the offer of a new contract, Anfield does seem the most likely destination.
The biggest stumbling blocks could be where he gets game time. One of the reasons why he’s an attractive prospect is his versatility; he can play on the right, left, in midfield and as a wing-back. But it’s hard to see him being a regular starter in any of those areas for The Reds.
Rating: 7/10. As long as he’s happy to be a squad player rather than a nailed-on starter.
The story so far: The fact this French wonderkid emerged as a target for Liverpool came as a surprise given that Real Madrid are one of the teams said to be chasing his signature.
The suggestions are that, if Mbappe is open to a move to England, The Reds want to be a part of the conversation and retain an interest on that basis. Zinedine Zidane is reported to have spoke to the 18-year-old personally while Monaco will offer him a staggering pay rise to stay put.
Rating: 3/10. Expect him either to stay put or end up at Real Madrid, would be a huge statement though if it happened…
The story so far: Was a name mentioned by reliable Merseyside journalists at one point but early suggestions were that he would go to Paris Saint Germain. French media threw Liverpool’s name about when PSG’s interest cooled but that seemed nothing more than agent games.
The Echo reported the other day that The Reds wouldn’t pursue a deal for Aubameyang as they didn’t see him as a financially viable option at 28 years old while The Times quoted reports in Germany that said Klopp didn’t enjoy a good relationship with his former striker.
Rating: 1/10. If the PSG move is truly dead, a move to China could be on the cards but don’t expect to see him in a Liverpool shirt.
The story so far: Given that Leipzig are looking to play hardball over Keita it’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which they sell their two best players in one window.
The Independent’s Miguel Delaney reported Liverpool’s interest but it would be more likely that they will pursue Keita if given the option of the two, especially since Klopp is said to be happy with his options up top.
Rating: 1/10. If the move for Keita is on the cards it surely rules this one out.
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