Liverpool should hope that Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek stays put this summer.
The 22-year-old is one of several Ajax players to break into the limelight this season. The Dutch club pushed on to the Champions League semi-finals with a series of impressive performances.
Ultimately, however, such progress alerted richer clubs to their talents. Frenkie de Jong is moving to Barcelona this summer, while Matthijs de Ligt is in very high demand.
Van de Beek certainly hasn’t gone under the radar but he hasn’t quite ‘enjoyed’ the hype of his two teammates. One example of that is his perceived value – Le Parisien consider him a £49m player. This may work to Liverpool’s advantage, though.
Van de Beek is a very effective midfielder in the mould of Liverpool’s current crop. He’s full of energy, very physical, and capable of providing a little bit of everything.
He scored 14 times this season in both the Eredivisie and Champions League – a fine haul for a midfield player. It’s also exactly the kind of record Liverpool don’t get from their current midfielders.
Liverpool’s current midfield
You’d imagine Van de Beek could slot into Liverpool very well. The only problem is that now isn’t quite the right time.
Liverpool have a lot of midfielders. Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, Fabinho, Gini Wijnaldum, James Milner, Adam Lallana, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all established and all want games. Introducing another centre-midfielder and promising him games is difficult.
Next summer, though, provides opportunity. Milner, in particular, will be 34 years old and the club will have to think about replacing him.
Lallana hasn’t played very much this season and although he’s likely staying for at least another season, that could easily change in a year.
Oxlade-Chamberlain and Keita have doubts over them, too. Will the former get back to his best after the injury? And will Keita finally get a run of games going and hit form?
We can only answer these questions next summer. And if Van de Beek is still available, he’d be perfectly placed to fit right in.