Max Morland takes a look at three players that Liverpool’s scouts would do well to keep an eye on at this summer’s European Championship in France.
If there was one thing that Liverpool lacked last season, aside from defensive stability, it was an injection of pace and skill in attacking areas. After Brendan Rodgers loaned Serbian wide-man Lazar Markovic to Fenerbahҫe, the Reds were left with Jordan Ibe as the only natural winger.
Therefore, depending on whether Markovic returns to Merseyside, Klopp needs a replacement winger, and he should look no further than to the Swiss international and Basel youngster, Breel Embolo.
After missing out on Champions League football, the Reds could look to Embolo, who scored 10 goals in 26 appearances for Basel last season. He could provide a cheaper alternative to some of the more household names who might have been targeted had the Reds been victorious in the Europa League final in Basel.
The 19 year old is versatile and can play in a number of attacking positions; most notably as a winger or leading the line up front. He has a direct style of play, and possesses bucket-loads of pace and agility, some of the most sought after attributes in the Premier League.
Lately, Embolo has been utilized as a central striker for Switzerland, coming off the bench in their 1-0 success against Albania. His strength and aerial abilities have seen some draw comparisons between the young talent and current Liverpool striker Divock Origi, who was a key figure for Liverpool towards the end of last season.
However, the club have been criticized recently for purchasing players with lots of potential, many of whom are without Premier League experience and fail to live up to the hype surrounding the transfer. Embolo would likely be available for between £20 million and £30 million, which would be affordable for owners, Fenway Sports Group. As was shown by Anthony Martial last season, sometimes spending lots on highly talented young players more than justifies itself.
Embolo certainly has huge potential, but buying a young player with so little experience, for a large sum, would put pressure on him to succeed, and, as many other recent purchases have shown, some gambles are not worth taking.
However, the reality is that Liverpool do need a new winger, and there are not many players who could satisfy Klopp’s requirements at a lower price. As a result, Breel Embolo may just be a player to look out for in the Euros.
Surely the only positive to take from Liverpool’s disastrous Europa League final defeat at the hands of Sevilla was the fact that the club are in desperate need of a new left-back.
After being heavily linked with Leicester’s Ben Chilwell, who is currently in the champions’ reserve squad, Reds fans are happy to see the reliable German. Jonas Hector appear as an apparent transfer target. Hector, who only emerged as a starter for FC Köln 3 seasons ago, has since established himself as the reigning world champions’ first choice left back.
Hector has a solid reputation for being a steady, tactically aware full-back, and is more focused on his defensive duties than for making forward runs whenever he is given the opportunity. something synonymous with the current occupier of that position, Alberto Moreno. The Spaniard has been labelled “brain dead” by supporters after his poor defensive showings last season, most notably in the Europa League final.
If Liverpool did decide to sign Hector, they may also be boosted by the fact the German is consistently used by Köln in a defensive midfield role, which is a position which needs to be strengthened before next season.
Some of Hector’s main qualities include his awareness and positioning, which would be a huge improvement on Moreno, as well as his ability to perform inch perfect tackles. Despite his reputation as a more defensive full back, Hector has claimed 7 assists in the past year, showing that he does have the ability to provide for his team when he is needed.
However, Hector would likely cost the Reds around £12 million due to a lack of a release clause in his contract, which runs out in 2018. Hector has said himself that it would be hard to turn down the opportunity of playing for Liverpool if Klopp wanted his services.
Overall, Hector would be a very good option for Liverpool, and whilst his transfer may not set the world alight, he would be a definite improvement on Alberto Moreno. In the Euros this summer, he has been playing at left back due to Germany’s extensive options available in the centre of midfield, so Reds fans will be able to see what their potential future left-back has to offer.
Similarly to Embolo, Ante Ćorić bust onto the footballing scene at a very young age and has since been building his reputation playing in midfield for Dinamo Zagreb. He is a clever player who likes to control games and can effectively and quickly transition his team from defence into attack, something which Liverpool are in need of.
Ćorić has been linked with Premier League clubs heavily in the past year, although Liverpool have been the team most strongly linked with the 19 year old recently. Unfortunately, the young Croat is unlikely to get much game time in the European Championships due to the immense strength of his nation’s midfield, which contains the likes of Luka Modrić and Ivan Rakitić.
Despite Ćorić’s obvious qualities and brilliant potential, Klopp may decide that he does not want to gamble on the Croatian, who scored 4 goals for Zagreb last season, and that he already has enough central midfielders in the current squad.
However, if Ćorić does feature and perform well in the Euros there is a good chance that Liverpool may make the Croatian one of their main transfer targets this summer.