Left back snubbed Liverpool before Barcelona move

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Barcelona's French defender Lucas Digne controls the ball during the annual 51st Joan Gamper Trophy friendly football match beteen Barcelona FC and UC Sampdoria at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona
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Max Morland discusses Liverpool’s persisting left-back issues, particularly what could have been with Lucas Digne.

It was to the annoyance of many fans that Liverpool failed to sign a new left-back in the summer transfer window, especially given the issues surrounding the current occupier of that position – the error prone Spaniard Alberto Moreno.

However, it has been revealed recently that the former Paris Saint-Germain defender Lucas Digne was approached by the Reds in July, just days before he signed for Catalan giants Barcelona in a deal worth £16.7 million.

The French international had a successful loan spell at Roma last season and was one of the club’s key players in helping them to secure qualification for the qualifying rounds of the Champions League, attracting the attention of many clubs including Barcelona and Liverpool.

According to sources close to the 23-year-old, Digne was also made a target by Brendan Rodgers during last summer’s transfer window, who was looking to strengthen his defensive options after Moreno’s shaky first season at the club. However, Digne reportedly rejected the chance to sign for the Reds, and subsequently joined Roma on a season-long loan.

Given Liverpool’s previous interest, and dire need for a new left-back, many fans would have seen the French full back as an obvious choice for Klopp in the transfer window, who has recently dropped Moreno from the starting line-up after a poor start to the new season.

Liverpool did indeed make a fresh inquiry to PSG regarding Digne, although this went under the radar amongst supporters, and it was only recently that the Reds’ renewed interest in the full-back was revealed. Similarly to the previous summer, Digne, who was an unused substitute for France in their Euro 2016 campaign, turned down the chance to make the move to Merseyside, in favour of Champions League football with Barcelona.

This could lead many supporters to question Liverpool’s methods in the transfer market. If Klopp had decided that Alberto Moreno was not capable of fulfilling his duties in the first team, why didn’t the Reds pursue the signing of a replacement with any great intent?

The money needed to buy Digne or any alternative, would have been available, especially after a summer in which the sales of 12 players generated in excess of £77 million, and the club making an overall profit in the transfer market.

The reason for Liverpool’s faith in Moreno could lie within Jürgen Klopp’s managerial methods. In a recent interview, the German said that he likes to give “first, second, even third chances”, suggesting that he is prepared to give players the maximum amount of opportunities to prove themselves.

This mentality may be the underlying reason behind Moreno still being in Klopp’s line-ups (despite being dropped to the bench recently) where with other managers, he may have been the first man on the transfer list.

Amongst the alternatives to Digne was the young Leicester City full-back Ben Chilwell, who has been the subject of endless rumours linking him with a move to Anfield. Both the England under 21 international and Lucas Digne would also fit FSG’s usual transfer policy of buying young talent for low prices, and then selling them on to make a profit. Klopp, however, reportedly turned down the chance to sign the 19-year-old for £10million, with Leicester not considering any offers lower than that amount.

With Barcelona possessing a huge, talented squad, Digne will have to fight for his place with current first choice left back Jordi Alba, and therefore if game-time proves hard to come by for the Frenchman, the offer of a move to Liverpool could still be on the cards in the future, especially if Moreno continues in the same vein as he has done recently.

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