EXCLUSIVE: Interview w/ Christian Falk, BILD’s Head of Football

With Liverpool’s rise to glory, many names have been mentioned by the media as possible transfers that could strengthen Klopp’s squad, and with the German manger’s background, Bundesliga players are one of the first to be mentioned in newspapers and foreign outlets. If there is ever doubt over any transfer that involves German players, there is one name that specializes in knowing the in’s-and-out’s of the business, that’s BILD & SPORT BILD’S Head of Football Christian Falk. Famously known for his ‘true’ or ‘not true’ posts on Twitter where he denies fake reports, or complies with the reliability of some, Christian is one of the biggest names in sport journalism when talking about Germany and it’s football. LFC Transfer Room had the pleasure of speaking to him and getting some great comments on possible transfers, current Liverpool players that could head out to the Bundesliga, future deals and more.

Q: With the recent return of the Bundesliga, who would you consider to be good, exciting players ‘to watch’ that might be looking for new clubs at the end of the season? – Do you have any personal favourites that you enjoy watching?

Kai Havertz – especially those who witnessed his match for Leverkusen against Werder Bremen as he scored two goals – he is one the hottest players on the market. However, he wanted to be transferred during the summer, but FC Bayern won’t be willing to gamble right now. For Bayern, Havertz is of course very interesting, but the club would prefer a transfer in 2021 instead. That means Havertz will take on the focus of other international top clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid or Liverpool. I have heard there is interest from these clubs. The agents of Havertz informed Bayer Leverkusen already about this, but there are no offers yet. It’s clear to me that you English fans highly rate Jadon Sancho. No one at Dortmund I spoke to thinks he will be sold this summer. If an offer comes in over 100 million euros, his transfer will be considered. The fact is Sancho excites the Premier League, and he will continue to maintain their interest in him through 2021.”

“…And please, don’t even think about Erling Haaland! (jokes). He has only been playing in the Bundesliga since January. We don’t want to lose him this soon, the English clubs won’t have a chance to buy him this year.”

Q: Jadon Sancho & Kai Havertz are one of the Bundesliga’s most priced assets at the moment, and have been rumoured for a move away lately – With both players having such a high price tag from their clubs, could you see them leaving at the end of the season? Do you think Liverpool could ever be willing to sanction a move for any of them at that price?

Havertz could be an interesting player for Liverpool, but the agents and heads of the club I spoke to at Leverkusen didn’t mention them as one of the clubs interested. So far we have no sign that Liverpool has ever had interest in Jadon Sancho, and if Jurgen Klopp really wanted to sign him, Dortmund would have already known that – Klopp would never try and bring a player from BVB without first contacting the German side. Manchester United has been chasing him for months. He is good friends with Rashford and they keep close contact with one another.”

Q: Marko Grujic is set to return to Liverpool at the end of the season. Do you think he has made a significant impact for Hertha Berlin to try and get him on a permanent basis? Or are there any other clubs that could be looking for his services in the Bundesliga? Alternatively, do you see him coming back to Liverpool?

Marko Grujic’s first season at Hertha was outstanding, they would have preferred to sign him but had no money. Also, Grujic always saw himself as a Liverpool player in the long run. In his second year on loan, Marko suffered due to the many changes of coaches, and has no form at all. Hertha would like to see him find his old form. For now, they are interested. Grujic himself wants to go back to England unless he receives a clear signal from Klopp that he doesn’t want him.”

Q: Since we are on the topic of Hertha Berlin. Not too long ago Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius terminated his contract with Besiktas, the German is now set to come back – there has been a lot of reports claiming that Hertha Berlin want the 26-year old, and that Karius might fancy a move to Berlin considering his girlfriend lives there. Is Hertha’s interest in Karius real?

“Indeed, Hertha’s goalkeeper-coach (Zsolt Petry) spoke already with Karius, but the interest in him is weak. At the moment he is not the number one goalkeeper candidate at Hertha. We’ll see what happens next.”

Q: It is no secret that the German National team are interested in Jurgen Klopp as a future Joachim Löw successor, now it is uncertain if Klopp would leave Liverpool for another challenge in a near future. But if so, Julian Nagelsmann has been mentioned by the media as one of the ideal Klopp successors at Anfield. – What do you think about this? Is there any truth in the consideration of Nagelsmann as a future Liverpool manager, or do you see him staying in the Bundesliga for a long time?

“I honestly have never heard of this scenario before. Nagelsmann does not rule out going abroad one day, but he has always emphasised that he only wanted to prove to Bundesliga fans that he could win titles. That’s why he rejected the possibility of joining Real Madrid – at least that’s how he describes it. However, I believe 120 percent that Kosicke, Klopp’s agent, would suggest Nagelsmann as his successor. Nagelsmann is so ambitious that he would certainly not say no to Liverpool in the future.”

Nagelsmann is so ambitious that he would certainly not say no to Liverpool in the future.

Q: Let’s go back in time to a few years back when Klopp recently arrived at Liverpool. One of the most talked about transfer sagas was Koln’s left-back Jonas Hector & – at the time – Borussia Monchengladbach’s midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud. They were very strongly mentioned by the media, but a move for both never seemed to materialized. Why do you think this happened? Was there any truth in these reports, and in Liverpool’s interest of the Bundesliga couple?

“The rumors of Dahoud and Klopp existed one year before Dahoud went to BVB. Since then, however, Dahoud’s performance has clearly deteriorated and Liverpool’s performance has increased. I think it is unrealistic to think that Klopp will get him now, the performance gap is too big. Besides, Klopp already had gotten a pretty similar midfielder like Dahoud – one and a half years ago in Naby Keita. If he had been convinced of Dahoud at the time, he would’ve already bought him. So why would he do this now?

This also applies to Jonas Hector who hasn’t gotten better in the past few years. He has lost his place in the German national team and although he is solid, would he really improve Liverpool now?”

Q: Liverpool currently don’t have a solid option as left-back cover. A couple of months ago it was reported that they were considering bringing Borussia Dortmund’s Raphael Guerreiro for a region close to £17M last season, but decided not to do so at the end – Do you think Guerreiro would’ve considered the idea of playing for Liverpool as a left-back cover, taking into count the fact that he could also play further up in different positions. Was this interest real at all, and could you see LFC coming back for him at the end of the season?

“The fact is that at the end of last season there was a lot of evidence of a farewell to Raphael Guerreiro in the summer. This was because his contract only ran until 2020, and they couldn’t agree on an extension. Dortmund didn’t want to let him go on a free in 2020. PSG and Tuchel were in conversation with his agents for a long time, but in the end Barca was his hottest prospect. In the end, Barca chose Junior Firpo instead of Guerreiro, who then extended his contract at Dortmund until 2023 in the late summer. Guerreiro is playing outstanding this season in Dortmund, but not as part of a defensive 4-man chain, he has his qualities moulded as a forward. I think that as a winger at Liverpool he wouldn’t have a chance with Mané and Salah. In addition, Guerreiro is not known to be an England ‘fan’. If anything, he would rather go to Spain, France, or Italy.”

Q: Let’s get into the main topic of conversation regarding Liverpool transfers. Timo Werner is constantly mentioned by the media, and his release clause is very appealing to many teams across Europe. Is it true that if RB Leipzig fail to win the Bundesliga, Timo Werner’s release clause could be reduced from €60M to €50M as per Italian newspaper Gazzeta dello Sport? Secondly, what is your take on the Werner-Liverpool transfer saga, his comments praising Liverpool and snubbing a move to Bayern, the comments of Ragnick saying he could fit a club like Liverpool, and Klopp’s possible interest in bringing him to Anfield. – Do you think it could happen, and who are the other options Werner could have on the table.

“According to our information, the clause is 55 million as a base value and can grow to 60 million if RB Leipzig makes it into the Champions League. And yes, I think this transfer is happening. Interestingly, Werner now has a new Social Media and Marketing agency. The boss of this agency is also Jürgen Klopp’s manager. Werner is also talking a lot about Liverpool in the public eye now too…”

“Werner now has a new Social Media and Marketing agency. The boss of this agency is also Jürgen Klopp’s manager. Werner is talking a lot about Liverpool in the public eye now..”

Q: Milot Rashica is an exciting Bundesliga prospect that has also been linked with Liverpool. Considering that his release clause is €38M, and that he can also operate anywhere in the front line, would you consider the Kosovo star a more suitable option to Liverpool than Timo Werner? Keeping in mind that he would probably come in as a backup option to Liverpool’s front 3, is Liverpool’s interest in Rashica as strong as it is with Werner’s?

“According to our information Liverpool were interested in Rashica, but then the new coach of Leipzig, Julian Nagelsmann, came to the RasenBallsport side. He spoke to Rashica and convinced him to join them. After that, Rashica had his head geared toward joining Leipzig. Leipzig wants the player, but for significantly less than the 38 million Euros of his release clause. There are no concrete negotiations yet between the clubs. Speculation of a 15 million offer or more is realistic.”

Q: It has been said that Liverpool have been in contact with Denis Zakaria’s agents, is that true? Do you think a move could materialize considering Liverpool have Jordan Henderson who could also play in that deep midfield position, and the possibility of Marko Grujic’s return to the club?

“Liverpool have been watching Zakaria for a long time, even before at his club in Switzerland, BSC Young Boys. So far, there have been no talks about a transfer, but rather there have been exchanges between his agent and the scouts regarding Zakaria’s development. His style fits Liverpool very well. He is dynamic, and great at tackling – a good number six that has a lot of speed and pushes the game up. If Henderson’s time at Liverpool ends sometime soon, Zakaria will be a good option as replacement. Our legend Günter Netzer told me that he is great, so if Netzer says this, it’s true. Grujic is not a player of his same class.”

Q: Who is your favorite Liverpool player?

“My favorite Liverpool player is James Milner. I talked with Emre Can this week about him. Emre said to me that he thinks that Milner is still the fittest player in Liverpool. I like Milner’s mentality. He is purely about football. He is what Thomas Muller is to FC Bayern. Both are the spirit of their clubs, absolute team players and enormously effective!”

I like Milner’s mentality. He is purely about football. He is what Thomas Muller is to FC Bayern.


Edited by Seth Revere.

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