Liverpool Football Club should be paying close attention to Chelsea’s recent Alvaro Morata deal argues Jack Hallows and for good reason.
Alvaro Morata and Romelu Lukaku.
Two of the most high profile transfers set to be completed this summer transfer window.
One to Manchester United, the other to Chelsea. Both for incredible sums of money in excess of £70m (Morata being £58m up-front with add-ons).
Interestingly, while one was always off to United and the other was always off to Chelsea, no one had quite imagined it would be this way around until roughly 10 days ago!
Lukaku looked for all money to be heading to his former club Chelsea, as the Blues marquee replacement for want-away Spaniard and notorious troublemaker Diego Costa.
The Belgian had been linked with a return to the London club since the summer of 2016 and Antonio Conte seemingly had him practically pencilled into the starting line-up for Chelsea’s Community Shield clash with Arsenal on August 6th.
Jose Mourinho however, saw a golden opportunity when negotiations between the two parties hit a snag and pounced. The Portuguese used his relationship with Lukaku’s agent Mino Raiola – who also represents Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – to his full advantage in a swift negotiation process.
Up until that point, Mourinho himself looked to have Morata all wrapped up pending a medical. Even Morata himself was said to be so confident the move would go through that he was confused and devastated when the news that the Belgian had usurped his move broke.
Mourinho had not only secured one of the Premier League’s deadliest strikers last season, he’d effectively weakened two rivals; poaching Everton’s best player and resigning Chelsea to missing out on their priority target, news that quite understandably angered Antonio Conte.
However, the Londoners weren’t just going to throw a hissy-fit and mess about.
Practically the day after Lukaku was confirmed as a Chelsea player, Conte looked to embark on an all out assault on the available big-money strikers in European football with links to Belotti, Aubameyang and of course, Morata, all surfacing.
It seems Morata is the one that ultimately caught the eye enough for Conte to sanction the finalisation of a deal and the Spaniard certainly fits the bill in what Chelsea would’ve been looking for.
Tall, strong, adept in the air while also possessing a good first-touch and very impressive hold-up play, Morata is the perfect replacement for Diego Costa and one might even argue, a more complete footballer than Lukaku.
So how does all of this tie in with Liverpool Football Club?
To put it simply, this window has been one nightmare episode after another when it comes to adding Jürgen Klopp’s big-money targets Virgil van Dijk and Naby Keïta to the ‘done-deal’ pile alongside Mohamed Salah, Dominic Solanke and Andrew Robertson.
Every time the Reds look to be taking on step closer to bringing either of the players to Liverpool, they then seem to be pushed back another three and the sagas have honestly become exhausting.
Frustratingly, it’s not even a question of the players not being interested. Both van Dijk and Keïta are said to be highly keen on making the switch from their current clubs to play under Klopp.
However, as willing as both players are to move, their clubs are equally unwilling to sell and neither look to be any closer to handing in a formal request to leave.
With the Reds Premier League campaign beginning again on August 12th with a trip to Watford, the club are cutting it awfully close when it comes to having all of their desired targets signed and secured by the time they take to the field.
While Klopp had initially hoped for the squad to be completed by the time Liverpool pre-season training begun in the first week of July, he knew it was always going to be a tough task. To have only one of your priority signings secured by late July, however, isn’t a matter of exercising extreme patience. It’s a problem.
The Reds are said to still be in the hunt for both Keïta and van Dijk’s signatures but when does enough become enough? A rejected £66m bid for Keïta has seen suggestions they’ll return with yet another improved offer of £70m+, despite Leipzig having previously indicated they would accept the last offer. Surely, if this next proposed one is rejected, enough is enough?
The Reds cannot spend the entire window begging on hands and knees to either of Leipzig or Southampton and if alternatives are available, of which Paul Joyce of the Times has confirmed there are at least some to Keïta, the Reds really may need to move on soon.
While Keïta looks an incredible player with an even more incredible ceiling of potential, signing an alternative would surely be better than ending the window with no one at all.
If the Reds don’t opt to move on soon, they’re very much in danger of winding up red-faced and empty-handed by the time September 1st comes around.
Don’t even get me started on the Virgil van Dijk saga. Southampton were always going to be tough to deal with even if the Reds hadn’t managed to spectacularly shoot themselves in the foot with everyone watching.
With the Morata and Lukaku deals, both Chelsea and Manchester United have shown what is possible if you are willing to take a gamble on one of your alternatives and do whatever it takes to get the desired player.
Surely by now patience in the Liverpool camp is wearing thin – even if Klopp has stressed time and again that it won’t be an issue – so if the clubs won’t sell and the players won’t request formally to be transferred, perhaps the Reds should start taking a leaf out of their rivals’ book and explore other avenues.
What do you think? Should Liverpool keep pursuing van Dijk and Keïta? Or is it time for the Reds to start looking for alternatives?