by Sam Patterson (@sam0007ster)
The Reds lifted the Premier League trophy on Wednesday night – and now their collective focus now inevitably turns to next season, 2020/21.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were expected to face strong competition for this year’s first division crown, but, in the end, won it at a canter – an absolute canter. In fact, they arguably had two hands on the trophy before the turn of the new year – or at least in hindsight they did.
How, then, can one possibly improve a side which has accumulated ninety-six points in a single season, and possibly ninety-nine by its close tomorrow evening? Or at least, how does one keep this side so ruthlessly consistent?
That’s the enormous task facing Jurgen Klopp, his backroom staff and, of course, his recruitment team, including Sporting Director Micheal Edwards and FSG president Mike Gordon.
The week’s headline news
Talk of Thiago Alcantara moving to Liverpool – the highly experienced Bayern Munich midfielder – still persists. Sources from Germany suggest that whilst a deal between the German giants and the Merseysiders is some way off, it is entirely plausible that the transfer will happen.
The Bavarian-based news outlet, @Abendzeitung, for example, indicates that Thiago wants Liverpool and vice versa. But – and here’s the but – the Reds are only willing to dish out €25million on the 29-year-old, which is €10million shy of the reported asking price. Both parties are confident a compromise can be reached, however.
A deal could hinge on Liverpool accruing capital from sales – that’s if you believe the Mirror. The Reds are to receive upwards of £10million for the sale of Croatian defender Dejan Lovren, with a move to Zenit St. Petersburg nearing completion.
It also cannot be denied that Klopp has a midfield void to fill with long-time servant Adam Lallana set to leave. Brighton Hove Albion, Leeds United and Leicester City are all said to fighting it out for the Englishman’s signature whose Liverpool contract expires this month. Brighton, as reported by multiple sources last night, are the frontrunners.
Klopp will know the importance of maintaining a balance between experience and youth in his squad. Lallana has, for some time now, been acting as a mentor to the up-and-coming Harvey Elliot and Curtis Jones, among others.
So the rationale behind a potential move for Thiago may not simply rest on what he can offer on the pitch – a patent authority on the ball – but what he can offer in the dressing room – a winning mentality and hunger for more. He would also, no doubt, be a role model for the younger players, like Lallana before him.
And that brings us on to the curious case of Gini Wijnaldum, 29. The Dutchman has just one year remaining on his current deal. And with no concrete suggestion he is about to renew his commitment to the club, it thereby fuels the Thiago-Liverpool speculation.
Simon Huges made this very point in this week’s edition of the Athletic’s Red Agenda podcast: “It’s quite interesting that Wijnaldum’s contract still hasn’t been resolved – he’s a crucial player for Klopp. I do wonder to what extent that is related to supposed interest in Thiago. Maybe he thinks he needs a player with experience in that position”.
- Goal’s Neil Jones asserts that Liverpool are looking to recruit defensive cover at left-back. Norwich City’s Jamal Lewis and Bournemouth’s Lloyd Kelly are listed as potential options.
- French side Montpellier will look to sign forgotten man Loris Karius. £6million is the asking price. If Liverpool accrue that money, they will secure a profit on the German goalkeeper they signed from Mainz in 2016. (Multiple sources)
- Victor Osimhen’s name continues to pop up. The Lille striker is highly-rated and is said to be worth something in the region of £50million. But it looks like he’s on his way to Naples. His agent, however, is pushing for a move to Anfield. (@CorSport). Another report suggests his agent is actually doing the complete opposite. (Football Italia)
- Marko Grujic is likely to leave this summer. Either on loan or as a straight sale. Hertha Berlin are ready to make an offer. (@bzberlin)
- Werder Bremen forward Milot Rashica is set to sign for RB Leipzig. £34.5million is his release clause, with Leipzig hoping to reach a compromise. He turned down both AC Milan and Liverpool before choosing Leipzig. (@SPORTBILD)