Should Liverpool fail to land Naby Keïta this summer, Jack Hallows feels Jürgen Klopp should look at one of these three alternatives instead.
Signing Naby Keïta is proving to be mighty difficult this summer.
RB Leipzig have continued to publicly reiterate their firm stance that the Guinean midfielder is not for sale and sporting director Ralf Rangnick seems to become angrier by the minute.
What makes it most frustrating is that the player is supposedly keen on the move and Liverpool are willing to do their part and pay a whopping £70m for his services, all of this means nothing though if his current club won’t let him out the door.
While it’s practically impossible to find another player who is simply just another Keïta, there are still a few midfielders out there who could still do a stellar job for the Reds and might come with both a slightly lower price tag and less resistance from their clubs.
Leon Goretzka / FC Schalke 04
22 years old, German and already being hailed as a “complete midfielder” by his international teammates, Goretzka would be a fantastic addition to Jürgen Klopp’s ranks.
A tall, physically imposing presence in the middle of the park, Goretzka excels when starting in a number 8 position and making late bursts forward into the box – similar to what both Adam Lallana and Gini Wijnaldum currently do for the Reds.
The Schalke midfielder managed to get on the scoresheet 5 times in 30 Bundesliga appearances last campaign, assisting a further 3 goals – from a total of 43 chances – for teammates.
The German youngster is also superb off the ball too, making 80 interceptions, 28 clearances and 6 blocks last season, averaging a total of 4 defensive contributions per game.
The player is said to be likely to move on this summer and if the Reds can’t tempt Leipzig to part ways with Keïta, then Goretzka would certainly represent a more than capable – and cheaper – alternative.
Jean Michael Seri / OGC Nice
Over to the Ligue 1 now as we move on to OGC Nice’s Jean Michael Seri.
At 25, Seri is older than both the aforementioned Keïta and Goretzka but still fits perfectly into Klopp’s preferred age range.
The Ivorian is another well-rounded no.8 who offers more of an attacking threat and he is coming off the back of a truly stellar 2016/17 campaign in which he helped Nice to a third-placed finish – behind only an incredibly impressive AS Monaco side and the money pumped giant that is PSG.
Seri boasted a 90% passing accuracy in the Ligue 1 last season, creating 73 chances at just over 2 per appearance and registering 9 assists, while also showing his own goalscoring ability by finding the back of the net 7 times.
He also completed an impressive 33 of his 38 attempted take-ons, showcasing an advanced dribbling technique and ability to wriggle his way through opposition midfields.
The Ivorian also averaged 2 defensive actions per game, making 28 interceptions and winning 26 tackles.
The Reds will, unfortunately, have another real battle on their hands trying to prise the 25-year-old away from Nice if he attracts their attentions, with the club’s manager today rubbishing rumours that the player could be off to Barcelona.
Mateo Kovacic / Real Madrid
With Real Madrid boasting ridiculous amounts of talent in their central midfield ranks already – Modric, Kroos, Asensio, Isco to name a few – and looking to add Ceballos alongside them, Kovacic could be persuaded that his future lies elsewhere this summer.
The 23-year old Croatian has hardly seen his career take off with the Spanish giants and despite making 27 La Liga appearances in 2016/17, very rarely did he play the full 90 minutes.
An impressive dribbler and passer of the ball, Kovacic is often compared to his compatriot Luka Modric and for good reason.
Even with reduced game time last campaign, the Croatian completed an impressive 59 take ons, made 46 tackles, created 17 chances for teammates, registered 3 assists and managed to get himself on the scoresheet against Real Sociedad.
He’s hardly the finished product and it would probably take a little more time than someone like Seri, Goretzka or Keïta to mould into the player that Jürgen Klopp would require but with the player boasting Champions League experience and rumoured to be available for just £22m, Kovacic wouldn’t be the worst player to take a punt on.
Let me know in the comments below, which midfielder would be your first-choice alternative to Naby if the Reds miss out on him this summer?