Transfer round-up: Ryan Sessegnon to Anfield? Plus more gossip…

Sam Patterson

Here’s Sam with the all the transfer gossip from the past week. He also believes a surprise Spurs player would be an astute addition…

by Sam Patterson

Liverpool’s Andy Robertson is arguably the best left-back out there. The Scot is one of the mainstays in Jurgen Klopp’s red machine; a winning machine which sits twenty-five points clear at the top of the Premier League table.

But back-up is surely required. The marauding full-back has been Liverpool’s stand-alone senior left-back since Spaniard Alberto Moreno departed last July.  

A solution from within?

Some will no doubt argue that 19-year-old Algerian Yasser Larouci has made significant strides this season. Larouci made a positive impression in the 1-0 FA Cup third-round triumph over bitter rivals Everton. The Youngster did well to contain the likes of Theo Walcott and Richarlison. The jury’s still out, however.

Yasser Larouci,Djibril Sidibe

There are no qualms, of course, over the willingness of James Milner who has proven a capable deputy when required (whether that be on the right or left flank). ​According to Melissa Reddy, Liverpool hierarchy’s decided against adding left-back cover last Summer for this very reason. Reddy has also made it clear that the club believes “(adding) variety to the roster is more essential than having largely dormant fullbacks”. Perhaps, then, the idea Liverpool will splash millions on a ‘periphery player’ is far-fetched.

Indeed, a key premise which lies behind most Klopp signings is not ‘void-filling for void-filling sake’ – the aftermath to Philippe Coutinho’s exit in 2018 bears this out.

But perpetual success depends on a constant – and consistent – endeavour to evolve and progress. Strength and depth is key and Klopp knows it.

FBL-ENG-PR-LIVERPOOL-LEICESTER

Who Fits the Bill?

I’m pretty sure Klopp is blissfully unconcerned with position-tags and what is tritely called a ‘full-back’. When identifying a player, he’s usually more concerned about how ‘X’ (preferably young, some years before his peak) adapts to changes in shape, and whether their strongest (and weakest) attributes are malleable and, in turn, how those attributes can be moulded to his philosophy. Off-field personality also plays its part of course.

Now, I don’t believe for one minute someone like myself – merely trying to understand Liverpool’s methodologically in the market – is capable of accurately identifying a player which suits said methodology. But one can speculate.

It’s a well-known fact that Liverpool were once long-time admirers of Ryan Sessegnon, a player which has fallen under the radar of late. The 19-year-old is now under the stewardship of Jose Mourinho at Spurs but struggling for game time in a season blighted by injury.

Ryan Sessegnon

The youngster, ​by his own admission, has so far failed to hit the heights of his Fulham days. Sessegnon notched up an impressive 43 goal contributions in 120 appearances for the Londoners. The stats are impressive, especially when you realise he played the majority of those games as a left-winger. And, better yet, he’s still a teenager, a boy. 

Nevertheless, he would demand a hefty fee. There is also no reason to suggest Spurs would be open to a sale, especially to one of their rivals. But he does tick a lot of boxes. He’s a front-footed box-to-box footballer who’s made his name as a dynamic winger and has also applied his trade in a deeper left-back role.

Strength in depth:

Sessegnon wouldn’t necessarily be lying dormant on the periphery either. He could cover for Robbo and concomitantly adds versatility in numerous positions up and down the field – perhaps for five to ten years – whilst Klopp – and his eventual successor – oversee the transition from this team to the next. 

He, therefore, offers a multiplicity of options offensively but can also throw caution to the wind; he’s a swashbuckling athlete who’s ceiling is sky-high. For all intents and purposes, he’s a project. Klopp loves a project.

Robbo stars week-in-week-out for this record-breaking side. But a weak-link – if there is one – is perhaps the lack of cards Klopp has to hand if the Scotsman, for whatever reason, has to drop out for an extended period. A player of Sessegnon’s ilk would thus be an astute long-term investment.

Short snippets:

  • The Reds have been tentatively linked with Wolves forward Diogo Jota. The 23-year-old is arguably one of the hottest young prospects in the Premier League. He boasts impressive stats: 25 goals and 13 assists in his previous two campaigns. Jota’s numbers, as the Echo’s Reece Chambers asserts, are similar to Sadio Mane’s at Southampton before he made the switch to Merseyside in 2016.
  • The Standard’s David Lynch has rejected the suggestion that Liverpool will look to sign World Cup winner Mario Gotze when the transfer window reopens. The German – available on a free – turned down a move to Anfield in 2016.
  • Newcastle are understood to be weighing up a plethora of potential free transfer targets. One of them, according to The Athletic’s Chris Waugh, is Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana. The Englishman is likely to depart at the end of the season and a recent report on Football Insider has labelled Lallana the ‘the most wanted man in football’.
  • According to the Diario Sport, Sevilla centre-half Diago Carlos is a prime target. Klopp is desperate to get his man and is willing to splurge substantial capital on the defender. But he faces competition; Barcelona are also keen.
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