Jack Hallows takes a look at Jürgen Klopp’s current targets and why it seems as if the German is seemingly desperate to land a marquee name.
Virgil Van Dijk, Naby Keita and Alexandre Lacazette. Other than being considered world class talent by a large percentage of European football fans, what do these three players have in common?
Their price tags.
While all three play in completely different positions, the Dutchman, Guinean and Frenchman are perfect examples of a ‘marquee‘ signing. Each one is a Champions League quality player who would command a fee in excess of £50 million and it’s no coincidence that all three have heavily been linked with the Reds this summer.
The need for a marquee player at Liverpool
While Liverpool do currently boast a pair of players who would be considered marquee coups for literally any other club across Europe should they leave Merseyside tomorrow – Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mané – both were fairly unknown quantities upon joining the club.
Coutinho was an £8m playmaker showing promise but unable to break into the Inter Milan first team while despite becoming one of the Reds most valuable assets throughout last season, Sadio Mané wasn’t a particularly popular acquisition upon immediate arrival.
The Reds haven’t signed a marquee-level player since the likes of Fernando Torres or Luis Suarez arrived and even they were fairly unknown quantities to most. The stance on Merseyside in recent years that buying talent with the potential to become world class if nurtured properly is an admirable approach and it truly paid off last season with the likes of Wijnaldum, Lallana, Firmino, Coutinho and Mané all stepping it up a gear to guide the Reds into the Champions League play-offs.
However, if the club is to continue moving forward as an attractive prospect for outside players, Klopp knows the need for big names and that he must prove he can reel them into Anfield. Marquee players not only excite the fanbase but have the ability to lift the quality of those around them and improve the team as a whole. If Liverpool are to be making continuous steps forwards in their progression then they need a player – or three – with the quality to come into the starting XI and hit the ground running.
The names linked
So far – if reports are to be believed of course – it looks as if Klopp has a big name target lined up to bolster each section of his starting XI. This is encouraging news as it shows that the German is more than willing to improve his squad wherever possible and is looking at his side as a whole, not just individual areas.
Virgil Van Dijk would not only represent a massive coup for the club if he were to sign but he’d go a long way towards fixing an area of the Reds’ game that has plagued them consistently for years: the defence. The 6’4 Dutchcentre-backk has had a £60m price tag slapped on his head by Southampton and for good reason. He’s strong in the tackle, composed on the ball, knows how to organise a defence and at 25 years old, hasn’t even hit the peak years of his career yet.
The Mirror reported yesterday that the defender will make the switch to Manchester City in a £60m deal worth £200k a week but truthfully, none of us knows where he’ll end up until we see him pictured in a jersey. If it is to be Liverpool then Klopp will potentially have pulled off one of the biggest signings in the club’s long, rich history both in price and stature.
Onto Naby Keita. The Guinean midfielder has been a revelation for RB Leipzig this season and was a huge part in guiding them to a second-placed finish in just their first ever Bundesliga campaign. A box-to-box midfielder capable of also operating further forward, Keita netted 8 goals and assisted 7 in 31 Bundesliga appearances this season and has drawn plenty of praise for being a ‘complete’ midfielder.
Many have compared him to N’Golo Kante of Chelsea but the truth is he’s a completely different footballer. His reading of the game is fantastic and while admittedly he is very impressive defensively – he averaged 2.6 tackles and 2.5 interceptions per 90 last season – but it’s on the ball that he really excels. The midfielder averaged a goal contribution every 161 minutes, while also creating 1.3 chances and completing 2.7 successful dribbles per 90. It’s no wonder the former Salzburg man has had a £50m price tag placed on him by his club.
Neil Jones of the ECHO has reported that the 22-year old will decide his future after he’s finished with his current holiday and the Reds should absolutely do what it takes to bring him to Anfield. Midfield depth is something that Klopp will need a lot of next season and Keita would provide huge competition for places. His presence would see the likes of Lallana and Wijnaldum have to lift their game even further to be a guaranteed starter.
Finally, you know who it is and you know why I’m simultaneously so sceptical and excited about him being linked once again. It’s Alexandre Lacazette. The Lyon forward has once again been touted as a target for the Reds after Atletico Madrid’s transfer ban was upheld, meaning any proposed move to the Spanish giants is now impossible this summer.
The striker has netted a staggering 91 goals in 129 appearances across his last three seasons with Lyon and would be the perfect example of a marquee talent capable of transforming a team from the get go. His pace, finishing ability and link up play would see Liverpool’s front line look absolutely terrifying – especially if flanked by Mané and potential new signing Mohamed Salah – and it’s very likely that the Reds would have far fewer problems with breaking down teams that employ a low block next season.
Of course, Lacazette has been linked with the club practically every summer since Luis Suarez left and Lyon are known to drive a hard bargain when selling their players, so take this one with a real pinch of salt.
However, it i, unfortunately, the nature of football that we could end up signing all three of these players or conversely, none of them as nobody really knows what’s going on behind closed doors at Liverpool Football Club.
What we do know however, is that getting that marquee signing is hugely important for the club this summer and Klopp seemingly agrees. Even signing just one of the above trio of players would be not only a statement to other clubs in the Premier League but to the fanbase and the players already at the club that says – “we are a Champions League club and we are here to stay.”