At this early stage of the transfer window, it is pretty likely that Liverpool are looking at internal options for next season rather than flexing their muscles financially.
This could make it practically impossible to sanction a hefty bid for Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, who is at this point a perennial transfer target for Liverpool.
Even following Dejan Lovren’s departure to Zenit Saint Petersburg, it is probable that Liverpool will pursue a cheaper, mid-range option rather than Koulibaly.
But could that be the wrong move? Here is a look at the case for splashing out on the Napoli man…
Liverpool have showcased themselves the best, so buy the best
Amid reports from The Mirror, linking Koulibaly with a potential summer move to Liverpool, there is no questioning that the Senegalese ace represents the best defensive option on the market in terms of quality.
With Koulibaly, Liverpool could do the impossible and make an instant improvement to the first choice XI, with Koulibaly challenging Gomez to partner Van Dijk.
If Liverpool are serious about remaining on their perch and defending their league title they will have to be ruthless and accept that the status of being the best in the land makes the club arguably the most attractive footballing destination in Europe.
A move for Koulibaly would ensure against complacency and demonstrate how there is always looking room for improvement.
Takes the pressure off Gomez and Matip
There is no questioning that Gomez has successfully established himself as one of the finest up-and-coming defenders in the league. Yet, at just 23, he still represents just one of three of Liverpool’s senior central defensive options.
It is also worth noting that at the same age, Virgil van Dijk was still establishing himself in the Scottish Premiership with Celtic which dictates that defenders typically take longer to mature and develop.
Also, Liverpool’s only other senior option, Joel Matip has showcased on numerous occasions that his reliability in terms of fitness has been a big concern.
Matip, 28, has only started eight PL matches this season and has failed to shrug off an ongoing knee injury which makes his regular participation next season all the more complicated.
If Liverpool were to sign Koulibaly, 29, then he could partner Van Dijk, also 29, for the next three to four years.
By that time, Gomez will be 27 and will be more than ready to take the mantle without the added pressure of being thrown in too early and being asked to match the same consistency levels of the best central defender in world football.
This could be a seamless transition between one generation and the next, with Van Dijk and Koulibaly setting a new standard for defensive steel while in the meantime developing Liverpool’s youngsters who will get to witness first half two of the best in the business.
Get one over City
Liverpool’s biggest strength this season has unquestionably been their ability to find numerous methods of grinding out results as well as their adaptability in a number of positions.
Manchester City have found this out the hard way with Pep Guardiola’s team finishing a heavy 18-points behind Klopp’s English champions.
The Citizen’s most glaring area of weakness has been in central defence. City have had to cope with the loss of former club-captain Vincent Kompany as well as the long-term injury to Aymeric Laporte and it’s fair to suggest that have worryingly struggled.
This has emphasised their need for a centre-back with Koulibaly identified as the club’s No.1 target.
If Liverpool were to steal Koulibaly from City’s grasp it is difficult to see how they are able to find an alternate option of the same calibre which would unquestionably boost the Reds’ title odds next season.
However, perhaps the major drawback and potential downfall over a move for Koulibaly is the price. Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis told Corriere dello Sport he would sell him for £90 million and no less.
For a player of his age, this is majorly excessive, yet it is also important to note that Napoli’s own ambitious transfer activity as they target Victor Osimhen – who is set to join from Lille.
This will mean the Serie A outfit will have to look at balancing the books.
Despite the owner’s comments, it is possible a move of around £70 million could cause Napoli to consider trading one of their greatest assets.
Do we think this is a move Liverpool will make? The blunt answer is no but it is important that the club don’t rule out any interest entirely.
Lovren’s departure changes the dynamic and creates the need for a replacement. Also, this is a move which would make the Reds better, and for this reason, it is one Liverpool should consider if they are to capitalise on their current status as English, European and world champions.
- Thiago could be a valuable asset if Liverpool look to pursue reported interest