It’s almost a certainty that Liverpool will aim to buy a midfielder next summer. It had been thought that the club would sign one this summer after losing Gini Wijnaldum a year ago without signing a replacement.
However, it seems Jürgen Klopp is content with his current crop of midfielders, and is happy to forgo another season without having signed a replacement for Wijnaldum.
All signs point to a big signing in midfield in the summer of 2023, when the likes of Naby Keïta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s contracts expire. Keïta could, and likely will, renew with Liverpool, but Oxlade-Chamberlain's future is in serious doubt.
Much speculation has centred around Liverpool holding off for a year to sign Jude Bellingham, but they shouldn’t put all their eggs in one basket, and a list of targets should be drawn up.
One name that will very likely be on the list is Inter dynamo Nicolò Barella, who Transfermarkt value at £63m, and who is under contract until 2026.
The Italian is an integral part of the Nerazzurri set-up in midfield, and it’s believed that Klopp is a big fan of the former Cagliari player.
Barella was signed by Inter in the summer of 2019 and quickly became a cornerstone of Antonio Conte’s side. Possessing a mixture of pace, strength, running and a powerful shot, his short height belies just how physical a footballer Barella is. He flies into tackles and is just as good as battling to win the ball back as he is when in possession of it.
He’s one of the only few Italian midfielders in recent years who can do it all in midfield, with Italy typically producing either footballers like Andrea Pirlo or Marco Verratti, who sit deep, or attacking midfielders like Domenico Berardi or Lorenzo Pellegrini.
The last box-to-box midfielder Italy produced of Barella’s quality was arguably Roma legend Daniele De Rossi in the early 2000s.
Last season, Barella scored three times and provided 13 assists in 36 league games as Milan wrestled the Scudetto from Inter’s clutches, but Barella was one of Inter’s best performers of the season, and without him in midfield, the Simone Inzaghi’s side aren’t the same.
This was evident in the two meetings against Liverpool in the Champions League when Barella was suspended for both games (much to the delight of Jürgen Klopp, who made reference to his quality in his pre-match press conferences). Inter lacked Barella's incisiveness and dynamism in midfield, with everything they did very laboured and slow.
Liverpool still would have progressed had Barella been available, but it would have made it more of a fight, and very much a lot closer than the actual games were, even though Inter won at Anfield.
Inter’s financial problems also aren’t going away anytime soon. Even with the return of fans to stadiums in Italy after the pandemic, the club will likely close their accounts for the 2021/22 season with a loss of £103m which, while bad, isn’t anywhere close to the £212m they posted a year ago.
The debt will likely still be high in a year’s time, and Liverpool could take advantage of that. It seems Inter will still have to sacrifice a big name this summer, with Milan Škriniar on the verge of joining Paris Saint-Germain.
Next summer, it could be Barella.
Barella would be ready-made for Liverpool’s midfield, with his combustible style perfectly fitting for Klopp’s 4-3-3. Moreover, at 25, he’s coming into the prime of his career, and a 2023 summer move would be the perfect time for Barella and Liverpool to make a deal happen.
Whether Inter will want to let Barella go is a different matter, but given their financial state, they may not have a choice, even a year from now.
Mohamed Salah — a name once worshipped at the Kop, despite still being a Liverpool player, his name has evoked apathy from a large section of the supporters base at Anfield of late.
Salah is a world-class talent who was undoubtedly one of Liverpool's best players last season, but with his long-term future in doubt, there is increasing trepidation he could depart the club on a free contract next summer and move to pastures new.
He will leave behind him an indelible legacy, and also a major void if he does decide not to extend his current deal. The gaping abyss left from his absence will be a mighty task for Julian Ward to fill. But it seems like the club's sporting director is already working on a plan to ensure Liverpool are prepared for the possibility.
According to Sport, Liverpool are in discussion with Serge Gnabry, who also has an expiring contract with Bayern Munich next summer, and who the club could potentially see as an heir to Salah's throne at Anfield.
Predominantly playing on the right-wing, but also capable of playing on the left and in central roles, Gnabry's profile is similar to that of Salah as we have previously highlighted here. In key metrics, they match up well together but the key difference is that Gnabry is over three years younger than the Egyptian star and therefore Liverpool may be more open to giving him a long-term contract on the wages he would demand.
Not to mention, there will be a lure of replacing a player departing on a free with a player arriving on a free contract is one FSG will regard as the perfect solution to what would have been an otherwise hefty financial challenge considering there are few players of Salah's ilk on the market and most cost excessive figures.
Next summer, if he were to arrive on a free contract, Gnabry would be on the brink of turning 28 years old. He would be about to enter his prime years in his position and still have plenty of seasons left at the pinnacle of the game.
It's a sort of future proofing for Liverpool who will hope by the end of Gnabry's time at Anfield, his successor will already be primed through the likes of Kaide Gordon or Ben Doak, who have both been brought into the club's academy over the last years and a half with extremely high hopes and will be expected to make a gradual progression into the first team.
Gnabry has proven over the last few seasons his talent in the Champions League and the Bundesliga, and while he may not ever hit the heights of Mohamed Salah, he has the ability and potential to reach close to it.
Few players offer a guarantee of goals like Salah, but Gnabry, with 104 goal contributions in 171 appearances for Bayern Munich, would certainly come close.
Liverpool aren’t likely to make a move for a new midfielder this summer, despite a move seemingly making sense. The club still haven’t replaced Gini Wijnaldum, but it seems like they intend to hold off from making a big purchase in the middle of the park until next summer.
According to many, Liverpool intend to make a serious move for Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham in the summer of 2023. This makes sense in a lot of ways as the likes of Fabinho, Thiago Alcântara and Jordan Henderson will be a year older, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will likely leave the club upon the expiration of his contract.
Moreover, Bellingham gets another year of top-class football under his belt at Dortmund, and given that he’s only about to turn 19, has a very bright future ahead of him.
However, Liverpool can’t sleep on Bellingham. According to reports in Spain, Real Madrid are considering making a 2023 move of their own for the former Birmingham player.
News outlet AS report that Madrid have identified Bellingham as their big midfield signing for next summer, after signing Aurélien Tchouaméni this summer for around £86m.
While a lot could change in a year, the last thing Liverpool need is to enter into a competition with Madrid for Bellingham, with FSG resistant to get into such battles with other teams for targets, preferring instead to have a clear run in order to keep the price down.
As history has proven time and again, the allure of playing for Madrid tends to win the day in a lot of cases, despite Liverpool’s own standing in the game, and so there is no guarantee that just because Bellingham is English, he would prefer a move to Liverpool if it came down to a choice between the two sides.
It’s just another reminder that Liverpool can’t take Bellingham for granted and that they must have something in place with Dortmund this summer, some agreement or another, that ensures that Bellingham stays where he is for the next year, but that in 2023 he moves to Anfield.
Liverpool no doubt know the risks involved in waiting a year for Bellingham. The club did the same with Fábio Carvalho, after his January deal broke down at the last minute. Other clubs could have come in and swooped for Carvalho ahead of a summer move, but Liverpool knew a deal wasn’t far away, and so bided their time to sign him officially.
Moreover, despite prioritising Bellingham for the midfield next summer, the club will no doubt have contingency plans put in place in case things don’t go according to plan, with it being said that the likes of Nicolò Barella, Luka Sučić and Ibrahim Sangaré all supposedly appreciated by Jürgen Klopp and the club.
Either way, the summer of 2023 will likely be a big one for Liverpool’s midfield, and the hope will be that Bellingham will be the marquee signing, but Madrid have sent a warning that waiting is a risky game.
Last summer, there was some anticipation surrounding the ever-growing reputation of Elliott, returning from an impressive loan spell at Blackburn.
Sadly, Elliott’s progress was cut short by a horror left ankle fracture-dislocation at Leeds and it was almost five months before he returned, scoring his first-ever Reds goal with a swivelling half-volley against Cardiff.
From that game onwards, though, he started just three times – only once in the league – and he was ineffective when thrown into the lineup away to Inter Milan.
Elliott himself accepted that his lack of intensity in training played a part in amassing just 336 minutes on the pitch following his injury return.
“It’s been tough, there have been a few downfalls and I don’t think I’ve played as much as wanted to since I’ve been back, but hopefully there are many years to come of me playing football,” Elliott admitted to This Is Anfield in May.
“There were a couple of weeks where I wasn’t training at my best, I wasn’t performing to the best of my ability and I knew that in myself.”
Because of that, the short attention span of modern football means Elliott’s stock has fallen and he isn’t considered a regular starter next season by some.
Those early-season appearances are proof that he can be, though.Liverpool’s Foden?
There are clear similarities between Elliott and Phil Foden, in terms of their playing style and pedigree.
Both short in stature but supreme in natural ability, they possess stereotypically wand-like left feet, thriving with a low centre of gravity.
They play for their respective boyhood teams and have both been earmarked as future superstars since secondary school age, so the comparisons are understandable.
In fact, Elliott should be looking at Foden as the perfect role model – someone who is three years his senior and who similarly had to bide his time before becoming a fixture in City’s team.
When Foden was 19, he was about to embark on a season that still only rendered nine league starts, but also 38 appearances in all competitions.
He wasn’t the main man under Pep Guardiola, but in the two seasons since, he has won back-to-back PFA Young Player of the Year awards and become a leading player for club and country.
Elliott’s career may not mirror Foden’s by 22, but it is easy to envisage his 2022/23 campaign being similar to the latter’s 2019/20, in terms of impact and playing time.
Somewhere close to 40 appearances in all competitions would be considered a success, as long as his creative numbers are healthy.
Elliott has the ability to open up defences and add a new dimension to the midfield, while his pass completion rate in the league last season (84.3%) was superior to Jordan Henderson (83.8%), James Milner (83.2%) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (78.9%).
Consistency will come with time, but Klopp has called him a “fearless boy” and will know he has a jewel up his sleeve – someone with that healthy dose of arrogance that is required in elite footballers.
One year older and even more comfortable in his surroundings, this could be Elliott’s moment to go up a gear.New gear, competition & system tweaks
Liverpool fans love a transfer soap opera and the current talking point is the Reds not signing another midfielder this summer.
He will be well-rested after enjoying a summer holiday, while a full pre-season can only bode well.
Now expected to take the No. 19 shirt, this suggests that Elliott’s squad status is naturally enhanced and that he is considered a regular part of Klopp’s plans.
Away from his No. 8 role in a 4-3-3 system, there is also the potential for him to be used in a 4-2-3-1, should Klopp opt to switch his formation.
Elliott has the guile to thrive as a No. 10 in front of a double pivot, allowing him more freedom, providing chances for the front three.
His fruitful spell at Blackburn saw him score seven goals and register 11 assists in the Championship – a superb effort in a tough league, especially as a teenager.
Elliott’s versatility means he is also capable of doing a job in a right-sided attacking berth, as was predominantly the case at Ewood Park.
He lacks Salah’s electric pace and dynamism, which is a drawback, but that natural ability to drift inside and create space for Alexander-Arnold can make him a good option there.
The signing of Fabio Carvalho will immediately make midfield competition greater, with the 19-year-old starting 32 of his 33 appearances in the No. 10 position last season.
But their shared experience coming through the youth ranks at Fulham could see an exciting tandem form at Liverpool.
Greg Cruttwell, the founder of Carvalho’s youth club Balham FC, believes that he suits Klopp “down to the bone,” and Elliott himself told This Is Anfield that he is a “great kid as well as a great player.”
It is easy to forget about Curtis Jones, too, and he is another who should be expected to take another positive leap in the right direction.
Elliott is a raw player who is still learning, and while moments of magic are to be expected, so are learning curves along the way.
Frustrating displays are to be expected, as was the case with a teenage Steven Gerrard, but Liverpool have a special young player who would already be a more cemented figure had injury not occurred.
Expectations and excitement surrounding him should be great, given his talent.
And while a new midfielder still wouldn’t go amiss, the Reds may already have a secret weapon ready to explode.
French interior minister Gérald Darmanin has offered an apology to Liverpool fans for the distressing scenes at the Champions League final in Paris.
Liverpool fans were initially blamed by the French authorities for the chaos outside the ground ahead of the 1-0 defeat to Real Madrid, which saw thousands of supporters locked out and then tear-gassed by police.
France's sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera and Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin both said ticketless fans or supporters with forgeries trying to get in were the cause of the trouble.
However, there have been numerous eyewitness accounts of major congestion problems on the approach to the stadium and patient fans being locked out for almost an hour amid issues with scanning tickets.
Having testified before the senate that some supporters arrived late, some were intoxicated and around 40,000 tried to enter the stadium with no tickets or fake tickets in "massive fraud on an industrial scale," Darmanin has now climbed down.
Darmanin did not retract his claims, but the evidence presented by the Liverpool Disabled Supporters chair Ted Morris and Spirit of Shankly's Joe Blott last week has forced him to admit "poor management" of the showpiece.
"Could the Stade de France have been better managed? The answer is yes," he told RTL in France.
"Do I have some responsibility for that? The answer is yes. I apologise to those who who suffered from this poor management.
"It is certain we have changes to make to the organisation."
Darmanin shifted blame to the "delinquency in Saint-Denis".
In response, Spirit of Shankly said: "No one should underestimate the significance of this. One week after the truth was told by the Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association and ourselves an apology has followed.
"While this is obviously welcome as a first and much-needed positive step, deflecting blame is not acceptable and greater sincerity is still required. Our basic demand remains unaltered - a fully independent investigation is essential."Paris police chief apologises for tear-gassing Liverpool fans at CL final Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol explains how the Champions League final delay occurred, with thousands of Liverpool fans being held up outside the Stade de France
Paris police chief Didier Lallement admitted that the managing of the final was "obviously a failure, because people were being pushed around or assaulted while we owed them safety".
Lallement apologised for tear-gassing supporters, who were waiting to enter the Champions League final at the Stade de France.
Speaking at the French Senate, he said was sorry for authorising the use of tear gas but felt he had no other option under the circumstances.
Lallement said: "It is obviously a failure. It was a failure because people were pushed around and attacked. It was a failure because the image of the country was undermined."Sky Sports News' chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol says the events outside the Stade de France do not tally with what French interior minister Gerald Darmanin considered fraud
Lallement also admitted his early estimate of 30,000 to 40,000 fans without tickets or with fake tickets was probably inaccurate.
"Perhaps I was wrong," he said. "Whether there were 40,000, 30,000 or 20,000, it didn't change the fact that there were tens of thousands of people who could not fit in."
Lallement also admitted his decision to remove a filtration barrier to avoid congestion had seemingly allowed "undesirables" without tickets to get to the stadium gates.
"There were 300 or 400 people who did not seem to be fans. I don't know if they were people from the housing estates around the stadium," he added.
"Is this a type of delinquent population that we meet in Seine-Saint-Denis? Yes, it happens, but we also meet them in the north of Paris."Liverpool chief executive says he's 'horrified' by fans' accounts of their experiences at the Champions League final in Paris Liverpool to meet chair of UEFA's CL final review
Police chief Lallement's apology came after it was revealed Liverpool officials would meet the chair of UEFA's review into problems at the Champions League final in an attempt to help satisfy themselves the process will be fully independent.
European football's governing body appointed the Portuguese politician Dr Tiago Brandao Rodrigues to carry out an inquiry into the circumstances which saw huge congestion issues which led to thousands of fans being locked out of the Stade de France and some being tear-gassed by police prior to Real Madrid's 1-0 win.
However, there have been suggestions Rodrigues has links to UEFA president Aleksandar Ceferin and Liverpool are understood to be keen to ascertain the independence and scope of his review.
Officials also want full explanations to 13 questions they submitted to UEFA, only some of which have been partially answered, and details of which experts will be involved on the panel before they can make a decision on whether Rodrigues is the right person to lead the review.Liverpool CEO Billy Hogan says he wants to see an independent investigation into the issues experienced by supporters at the Champions League final
It is understood UEFA, which has pledged unconditional access to its files and staff, has outlined its rationale for appointing Rodrigues but has not provided specific responses to the questions posed by the club.
Liverpool hope a meeting with the chair of the review panel, who will also meet Real Madrid officials separately, will provide more extensive answers.
Sources say they are keen to establish the process will be a thorough, independent and transparent investigation as they are unconvinced by the "independent review" terminology.
With Minamino’s move to Monaco now confirmed, in a deal worth £15.4 million, Klopp took the time to celebrate a forward who made a lasting contribution to the club.
And while his game time was limited, the manager knows Minamino “made us better” and had plenty to say as he wish his No. 18 well on the next chapter of his career.
“It’s hard to see Taki go, but it’s a great move for him and one he thoroughly deserves,” Klopp told the club’s official website.
“An amazing professional; super, talented player. As a person, he is full of warmth and makes everyone feel positive. A manager’s dream, to be honest.
“I’m sure there will be those who think it didn’t quite work out. Those who think this are wrong. I don’t accept that.
“His contribution far outweighs the opportunities we were able to give, in terms of starting matches. He made us better each and every day he was with us – not just in the games he played in but every single session in training. Perfect attitude, winner’s mentality.
“His performances and his goals are the reason we have had to redecorate the Champions Wall so often. His achievements here will stand the test of time.”
Well said, boss.3 things today: NFTs, ‘apologies’ and loan interest
What an impact he had, thanks for the memories!
Takumi Minamino was Liverpool's outright top scorer in both the League Cup and FA Cup last season – he joins quite the list of players to do that for #LFC in the same season. pic.twitter.com/aNKrRFQLfZ
— Michael Reid (@michael_reid11) June 28, 2022
There is U19 European Championship action you can follow tonight, with France meeting Israel for a place in the final at 7pm (BST), which directly follows England’s bid to make it to the end.
Jürgen Klopp views Takumi Minamino's quality and attitude as a big reason for Liverpool's success in recent years.
The Japan forward today completed a permanent switch to Ligue 1 side AS Monaco after two-and-a-half seasons and 55 appearances as a Red.
Minamino arrived at Anfield from Red Bull Salzburg in January 2020 and made 14 appearances during his first campaign as he claimed a Premier League winner’s medal.
He was the club’s top scorer in the Carabao Cup and Emirates FA Cup during 2021-22 to help Klopp’s side deliver a domestic double.
Reacting to the news of Minamino’s switch to Monaco, Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com: “It’s hard to see Taki go, but it’s a great move for him and one he thoroughly deserves.
“An amazing professional; super, talented player. As a person, he is full of warmth and makes everyone feel positive. A manager’s dream, to be honest.
“I’m sure there will be those who think it didn’t quite work out. Those who think this are wrong. I don’t accept that.
“His contribution far outweighs the opportunities we were able to give, in terms of starting matches. He made us better each and every day he was with us – not just in the games he played in but every single session in training. Perfect attitude, winner’s mentality.
“His performances and his goals are the reason we have had to redecorate the Champions Wall so often. His achievements here will stand the test of time.
“I know he will be a big success at Monaco. I’m sure we will look on with a mix of celebration and envy as he progresses and flourishes there.
“He leaves with our appreciation and best wishes. Thank you, Taki.”
After two-and-a-half years with Liverpool, Takumi Minamino‘s time at Anfield has come to an end with a move to Monaco now confirmed, leaving fans to show appreciation for his contributions.
The Ligue 1 side have secured his signature on a four-year contract in a deal worth £15.4 million, with a new chapter now ahead for the Japan international.
The 27-year-old joined the Reds at the most ideal and simultaneously unfortunate time, with a Premier League title on the cusp of being secured and a pandemic grinding the world to a halt.
It left little time to settle with his new teammates after joining from Salzburg in January 2020, and he never quite broke into Jurgen Klopp‘s first team.
And fans were quick to show their appreciation to Minamino after his move was confirmed on Tuesday.
??? #LFC have confirmed the departure of Takumi Minamino to AS Monaco. Feels like a good move for a player who deserves regular football, but his 10 goals last season will be missed. pic.twitter.com/HM0FeX0Dke
— Matt Addison (@MattAddison97) June 28, 2022
?? Never likely to unseat any of the more established forward options, but Taki Minamino still played a vital role over two-and-a-half years with #LFC.
Could see his presence grow after a tough start, especially post-Southampton loan.
Shame he's not opted to stay in the PL. pic.twitter.com/OHcYcfhdxP
— Jack Lusby (@LusbyJack) June 28, 2022
Loved this lad. Don't even know why, just desperately wanted him to do well. And you know what, he did do well. Top scorer in the two competitions we won last season. And let's be honest, was never given enough minutes in the PL or CL. Good luck, Taki! https://t.co/wCyFvTkUwT
— Empire of the Kop (@empireofthekop) June 28, 2022
Takumi Minamino for Liverpool last season:
? 24 Appearances
???? 9 Starts
?? 10 Goals
? FA Cup Top Goalscorer
? League Cup Top Goalscorer
Vital ? pic.twitter.com/YgQTEfxNeo
— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) June 28, 2022
Didn't get much time on the pitch but played a major part in the team winning both the FA and League Cups last season. Good luck Taki ? https://t.co/4lCQyKfLFx
— Chris Smith1??9???????? (@_SmithChris) June 28, 2022
What. A. Finish. ?
You’re getting some player, @AS_Monaco_EN
— Anfield Edition (@AnfieldEdition) June 28, 2022
So long, Taki. Great squad player and definitely played his part.
Type of player you’d love to keep in the squad but can understand he wants to play.
Scored some great goals.
That equaliser in the League Cup against Leicester saw limbs everywhere.
— Daniel Gore ???? (@KoptimusPrime) June 28, 2022
— Gomez? (@Harith_Ashraf) June 28, 2022
All the best Minamino. Boss player on his day. https://t.co/NMdomxOhZ5
— Tim Eales (@Timmeh93) June 28, 2022
Thank you Taki!
Will never forget the late equalizer against Leicester and the 2 cups you have won us.
Good luck! https://t.co/T5DuwHIb82
— Habeeb Abdul Rahman Rafai (@Habeebrafai24) June 28, 2022
Played a massive part in success last season. Developed a really good eye for goal towards end of his time at the club. £15.5m might be a bit on the cheap side but definitely deserves more regular football. https://t.co/u4D3iYZ9jT
— Jack Sear (@JackSear) June 28, 2022
Minamino makes the move to Monaco after 55 appearances for Liverpool and 14 goals, and will now seek the regular game time that eluded him at Anfield.
Wishing you all the best, Taki!
Takumi Minamino has left Liverpool after two-and-a-half years, with the versatile forward joining Monaco in a deal worth over two times the fee he arrived for.
The club has now confirmed the transfer, with the Japanese swapping Liverpool for Monaco for £12.9 million rising to £15.5 million.
That represents an £8 million profit on the fee paid to sign him from Red Bull Salzburg in 2020.
It was often a thankless task for Minamino at Anfield, filling in when required but never cementing himself as a regular starter.
His arrival on Merseyside came in lockdown, bringing a unique challenge for a player who barely spoke English, and understandably he spent the second half of 2020/21 on loan with Southampton.
But the 27-year-old returned to play a key role in the remarkable campaign just gone, scoring 10 and assisting one in only 22 appearances.
In a recent interview, Minamino claimed that most of the games he played in “weren’t of interest to anyone,” and it is no surprise, then, that he sought a permanent exit this summer.
The forward departs having made 55 appearances for Liverpool, scoring 14 goals, and will be remembered fondly for his contribution at Anfield.
All the best, Taki!
Liverpool FC can confirm Takumi Minamino has today completed a permanent transfer to AS Monaco.
Minamino leaves Anfield for Ligue 1 after making 55 appearances in total during his two-and-a-half-year stint as a Red, scoring 14 goals and providing three assists.
He quickly became an important and popular member of Jürgen Klopp’s squad following his arrival in January 2020 from Austrian outfit Red Bull Salzburg.
The Japan international earned a Premier League winner’s medal in his first half-season on Merseyside, appearing 14 times in the historic and COVID-19-impacted 2019-20 campaign.
He opened his goalscoring account for the club at the beginning of 2020-21 in the Community Shield against Arsenal at Wembley. He then put a brace past Lincoln City in the Carabao Cup before notching a first Premier League strike at Crystal Palace in an emphatic 7-0 victory.
The attacker spent the second half of that season on loan at Southampton, before he then returned to Anfield last summer to play a vital role in the year ahead.
Minamino helped the Reds to glory in both domestic cup competitions as they returned two trophies to L4 after playing every game available to them.
Leading the way for the team, the 27-year-old scored four goals in five Carabao Cup outings and then followed up with three in four in the Emirates FA Cup.
Due to his quality and first-class attitude, Klopp once described Minamino as a ‘coach’s dream’, with the boss acknowledging the No.18 was deserving of many more starting berths.
However, Minamino made the most of every second of his opportunities – whether that was on the pitch in matches or during training. “Without question, he is a person who helps set our standards,” Klopp said.
And so, Minamino departs Liverpool having left a lasting impression on teammates, coaches and the club’s honours list.
Everyone at LFC would like to thank Taki for his contributions and wish him every success in the next chapter of his career.
While a portion of Liverpool's fanbase may prefer to see Liverpool add to their midfield ranks this summer, the likelihood at the moment is that Julian Ward will only fulfil that priority next year.
Jude Bellingham seems like the preferred target for the club at the moment with the English international someone who fits FSG's strategy of recruitment in terms of his age and profile.
However, there could be one major obstacle in the deal with Borussia Dortmund likely expected to demand an extortionate fee for the youngster's services roughly in the £100m mark, and that could deter FSG from making a move.
Of course, the Reds will have alternative solutions lined up and there is undoubtedly a long list of names that the club's scouts will be monitoring come next season, and who are already on their radar.
One such player, according to GOAL, is Croatian international Luka Sučić. The 19-year-old plies his trade at Red Bull Salzburg and he could be an ideal alternative solution to the club considering FSG's strong relationship with the Red Bull group. They have conducted plenty of business with them in the past, under the guidance of Michael Edwards as sporting director.
But those close ties have been maintained by Julian Ward who worked closely with Edwards as his deputy. This summer, Liverpool will visit Red Bull Salzburg for a pre-season friendly further fortifying their close relationship. The game will also offer an opportunity for Jürgen Klopp, who will be able to take a closer look at Sučić and gauge his ability.
Last season the midfielder already caught the eye in the Champions League and he is a player who is regarded as one of the best midfield prospects in world football at the moment which should make the transition to the Premier League easier for Sučić. He is also someone who we previously profiled as an ideal alternative solution to Bellingham due to his playing style.
A true box-to-box player who is capable of putting in a defensive shift while also contributing in attack, Sučić fits Liverpool's ideal midfield candidate in terms of age and the style of play he would be able to bring to the club.
His shooting from long-distance could also bring a new element to the Liverpool midfield with the Croatian averaging 2.54 shots per 90 last season, higher than any of Liverpool's midfield options, and scoring three goals from outside the box for Red Bull Salzburg as well as a spectacular strike against Barcelona in pre-season.
Given Liverpool's close ties with Red Bull, the Reds would likely be able to land him for a fee much lower than that of Bellingham's extortionate valuation and that might just be the best argument for FSG next summer in order to opt for Sučić instead rather than the Borussia Dortmund star.
As Liverpool consider midfield targets for next summer, Aston Villa youngster Carney Chukwuemeka has emerged as an alternative to Jude Bellingham.
Despite calls for another signing in the middle of the park during the current transfer window, the Reds are expected to wait until 2023 to do so.
According to The Athletic‘s James Pearce, the plan, as ever, is “finding the right midfielder at the right price rather than settling for second-best or a stop-gap.”
Pearce adds: “They are prepared to wait until 2023 unless an attractive proposition emerges in the coming weeks.”
The lead candidate in this respect is Borussia Dortmund midfielder Bellingham, who is tipped to leave the Westfalenstadion next summer.
With Dortmund having already sold Erling Haaland to Man City, it is unlikely they will part ways with Bellingham in the same summer, but if they do change their mind late in the window he would certainly fit into the “attractive proposition” category.
Liverpool will never put all of their eggs in the same basket, of course, despite their respectable stance in not “settling for a stop-gap.”
GOAL‘s Neil Jones has detailed other names that are considered on the club’s radar as, according to sources within Liverpool, a “‘Bellingham-type’.”
West Ham‘s Declan Rice is admired but “seen as expensive,” while Jurgen Klopp “rates [Inter Milan’s Nicolo] Barella in particular” and Red Bull Salzburg’s Luka Sucic is “viewed as a potentially-elite prospect.”
Perhaps most intriguing, however, are links with Chukwuemeka.
Chukwuemeka, who is only 18, was born in Austria to Nigerian parents but represents England at youth level having been raised in Northampton, where he moved as a young boy.
So far at this summer’s U19 Euros, the six-foot teenager has scored twice in three games, deployed in a two-man midfield in a 4-2-3-1 formation and wearing the captain’s armband in the 1-0 win over Israel.
For his club, Chukwuemeka has already played 16 times at senior level, including 11 outings under current Villa manager Steven Gerrard, who rates him highly.
Gerrard said in May: “I think again me and my staff have shown huge trust putting an 18-year-old in, but we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t think he was ready or had the ability to cope.”
But despite the legendary midfielder’s praise, there is no indication yet that Chukwuemeka will extend his stay at Villa Park beyond the end of his contract in 2023.
In November, the Guardian reported that Chukwuemeka had no intention of signing a new deal, though his plans may have changed since then.
While Jones suggests that the youngster “might join Dortmund,” SPORT1 journalist Patrick Berger claims “there is no agreement” and he “will not join” the Bundesliga club.
With Bellingham expected to be valued at over £100 million next summer, perhaps Liverpool could instead cut out the middle man and go straight for Chukwuemeka.
Football clubs are always changing and evolving. It is only a natural process of the sporting world and life in general. To survive, one must continue to adapt and evolve. Metamorphosis on some level is always happening around us.
Nowhere is that more evident than around Anfield this summer. From top to bottom, Liverpool are embarking on a new adventure. It has seen the club's sporting director, Michael Edwards, depart as well as Jürgen Klopp's first Reds talisman in Sadio Mané.
Liverpool's new sporting director, Julian Ward, is now building for the future. He has been tasked with finding the next wave of Liverpool attackers, and this summer he has already brought in a handful of exciting talent all under the age of 23.
But considering Liverpool will lose three key players in attack over the course of the window, with Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino both joining Mané in the departures lounge at Anfield and Liverpool saying farewell to a trio who made 49 goal contributions last season, Ward's work may not be done.
The Reds could do with another attacker to fill the gap and provide competition and a deputy role to Liverpool's first-choice options.
To do that Ward may be taking a lesson from Manchester City's book and setting his sights on the South American market. Earlier this year, City brought the hugely exciting Argentinian forward, Julián Álvarez, to the club. He is set to join the Etihad side for pre-season.
With the new Brexit point system introduced to securing work permits in English football, South American players, particularly from Brazil and Argentina, are easier to attain and bring to the Premier League.
Liverpool scout the region extensively, and they were aware of the likes of Darwin Núñez and Luis Díaz, even from their time in Uruguay and Colombia respectively as teenagers.
In the future, the club could look to save money by going directly to South America to make purchases rather than waiting for their targets to arrive to Europe before making a move. And Ward could start with that new approach this summer by making a move for 19-year-old Santos forward, Marcos Leonardo.
According to TV presenter Milton Neves (via Sport Witness), the forward is already 'on his way' to Anfield. Speaking after Santos' draw with Corinthians over the weekend, the presenter who is known for his witty and facetious remarks, name-dropped Liverpool as Leonardo's next destination.
“Corinthians yesterday escaped being defeated by the Santos kids. Marcos Leonardo, who’s going to Liverpool, this guy is the new Romário!”
The comment should be taken with a pinch of salt, but it would not be a surprise if Liverpool did keep an eye on the hugely exciting teenager who is regarded as one of the best young forwards on the continent alongside, Manchester City's Julián Álvarez.
Hailing from the legendary club that produced the likes of Neymar and Pelé, Leonardo is unsurprisingly a player full of flair and eye-catching flamboyance. But in terms of like-for-like comparisons, he is more of an industrious player in the ilk of Roberto Firmino, while possessing the finishing quality and the explosiveness of Luis Suárez in his prime.
Standing at 1.75 metres tall, Leonardo does not have the biggest aerial threat, but he is more than adept at handling physical challenges due to his strong upper body and powerfully built legs that make it difficult for the opposition to jostle him off the ball when in possession and which would make him an ideal player in the Premier League. Given his physical assets, it is not a surprise that the forward has already set his sights on England being his dream destination in the future, as per The Mirror.
Capable of tracking back and winning the ball high up the field, Santos' system is not necessarily focused on pressing from the front, and his defensive numbers are as a result short of what you would expect from a typical Liverpool attacker — but this is an area that could be honed under the guidance of Jürgen Klopp.
For now, Leonardo has been a forward who has truly come alive when in possession in the final third. He thrives at running at defenders and taking them on in one vs one situations. His average of 3.08 dribbles per 90 is a relatively high volume for a number nine and his 57.6 per cent success rate is a very welcome return.
His output this season has been hugely impressive with Leonardo averaging 0.65 goal contributions per 90 — that's a commendable figure alone, but it's even better when taking into account how Santos only average 1.28 goals per 90 in the league. At youth level, he also has seven goals and two assists in five games for Brazil's U20 national team.
Creatively, he is someone who will not drop deep often and when he does he will hold the ball up rather than instigate attacks, but he will still look to play his teammates in when in possession high up the field if they are in a better position. Leonardo has the understanding and the vision inside the box that makes him quite a productive creator and he will often pick out passes for his teammates to put them into definite scoring positions. It is therefore unsurprising that he has averaged 0.12 expected assists in all competitions this season, and for U23 forwards in the league he ranks first for both smart passes (0.37) and key passes (0.28) among his positional peers.
Stepping up to Liverpool will require increasing his defensive output, but offensively he definitely seems like a quintessential Klopp player in his explosiveness, physical strength and ruthlessness in the final third.
Santos are known for playing hardball for their key assets in the past, and that will likely be the only obstacle in FSG's way and in Leonardo's way of completing a dream move to Anfield. But if Liverpool and Julian Ward can somehow overcome that barrier, they could bring an absolute gem to English football.
Liverpool 3-1 Cardiff City in the FA Cup was not a game that most people would remember in too much detail from last season, but it was one in which Jürgen Klopp performed an interesting experiment.
For a short spell, Roberto Firmino — often injured in the previous campaign and playing a reduced role even when fit — was deployed in a different position, though not one that was completely alien to him.
Firmino was always a number 10 for his previous club, Hoffenheim, so when Klopp asked him to drop a little deeper again and perform the left-sided number eight position in midfield, it would not have been that difficult for a player as intelligent as the 30-year-old to adapt.
Against a lesser side — hence the experiment being against Cardiff, rather than, say Manchester City — it makes sense to have another creative player in the team anyway.
Firmino was able to float around and spray passes, progressing the ball into dangerous positions with Luis Díaz looking lively in front of him and Diogo Jota and Curtis Jones also impressing on the day.
Cardiff did not particularly test him defensively and Liverpool were not out of possession for long spells at a time, cruising to a win at Anfield and progression into the fifth round of the competition they would go on to win.
But there are reasons to believe that Firmino could cope in slightly more strenuous circumstances — against a lower-placed Premier League side, for instance. He is, after all, arguably the most intelligent presser the Reds have.
Additionally, with Firmino in midfield, it is not that different to switching to 4-2-3-1 and having the Brazilian as the number 10 — something that plenty of people are keen for Liverpool to try.
The subtle difference, though, is that you can have that benefit (of having Firmno deeper, and also getting more creativity and not using another midfielder in the role if they need a rest or are injured) without changing the formation at all and risking altering the team's balance.
It is not something that Liverpool will do most weeks. Against Cardiff, it was only 11 minutes before Klopp moved Firmino further forward again, replacing Takumi Minamino with James Milner and switching things around, but he had also played a similar deeper role in Premier League matches with Tottenham and Leicester.
While he might not do it often, Firmino could have a new role next season perhaps more frequently than he did last. Should he remain fit for longer, and with four players in attack ahead of him in the pecking order, it might just make sense.
Liverpool won't be signing a midfield stop-gap this summer, but they might actually already have one on their books for when they really need one.
Wrapping up the Liverpool transfer news, rumours and gossip in the 2022 summer window.Monaco complete Minamino signing for £15.5m
Monaco have completed the signing of Japan forward Takumi Minamino from Liverpool in a deal worth £15.5m (€18m).
The fee is an initial £12.9m (€15m) plus a further £2.6m (€3m) in add-ons.
Minamino, 27, signed from Red Bull Salzburg in 2020 and played 55 times for Liverpool, scoring 14 times.Chelsea to approach ex-Liverpool sporting director
Chelsea are expected to engage Michael Edwards over their sporting director vacancy with owner Todd Boehly previously referencing Liverpool as a "great model" for success.
The man who helped reshape the recruitment of the Merseysiders and constructed Jurgen Klopp's world-class squad with smart, analytical-powered transfers, departed Anfield this summer after 11 years.
A source close to Edwards has told Sky Sports News that since the 42-year-old's decision to leave was made public last November, he has been approached by Europe's powerhouse teams - Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain specifically - as well as hedge funds and billionaires wanting to buy clubs and have him run them.Sky Sports' senior reporter Melissa Reddy reveals all on Michael Edwards - the man who was instrumental in Liverpool's recent transfer success and who could now be on his way to Chelsea Mane joins Bayern in £35m deal
Bayern Munich have completed the signing of Sadio Mane from Liverpool in a deal worth up to £35m.
Sky in Germany understands the 30-year-old has signed a contract with the German champions until 2025.
Bayern will pay an initial £27.5m with a further £5m based on appearances, and will pay another £2.5m based on individual and team achievements.
The deal eclipses what Liverpool paid for Mane - £31m plus £2.5m in add-ons - with Southampton not getting any additional money.Liverpool sign Aberdeen's Ramsay
Liverpool have completed the signing of Aberdeen right-back Calvin Ramsay for £6.5m.
The Reds are paying an initial £4m up front with a further £2.5m coming in the form of add-ons.
The 18-year-old recently travelled to Liverpool to finalise personal terms and undergo a medical. The defender has signed a five-year deal at Anfield and will link up with Jurgen Klopp's squad for pre-season. Liverpool have no plans to loan Ramsay out.Liverpool complete Nunez deal
Liverpool have completed the transfer of Benfica striker Darwin Nunez in a deal worth up to €100m (£85m).
The Portuguese club, who announced the deal in the early hours of Monday morning, say Liverpool will pay an initial €75m (£64m), with add-ons amounting to €25m included in the deal.
The transfer is subject to the 22-year-old Uruguay international agreeing personal terms with Liverpool and completing a medical.Liverpool transfer target Darwin Nunez is valued at 100 million euros after one hugely prolific season in Portugal in which he scored 23 times for Benfica Cherries approach Liverpool over Phillips loan Image: Nat Phillips is wanted by Bournemouth
Bournemouth have made an approach to Liverpool about taking Nat Phillips on loan for the season.
Liverpool are currently weighing up the offer for Phillips, who also spent the second half of last season on loan at BournemouthWho have Liverpool been linked with?
Jude Bellingham - Real Madrid have identified England youngster Jude Bellingham as their priority target for next summer (Daily Mail, June 28); Liverpool are confident they will be able to sign Bellingham next summer (The Sun, June 27); Jurgen Klopp will wait until next summer to move for Borussia Dortmund midfielder Bellingham (The Sun, June 17).Image: Jude Bellingham is reportedly a Liverpool target
Christopher Nkunku - Nkunku has signed a new four-year deal at RB Leipzig - that includes a £51.6m release clause - despite reported interest from Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United (June 23).
Nicolo Barella - Liverpool could be set to offer Naby Keita in exchange for Inter Milan midfielder Barella (Daily Express, June 20).
Jude Bellingham - Liverpool are confident they will be able to sign Borussia Dortmund and England midfielder Jude Bellingham next summer (The Sun, June 27); Jurgen Klopp will wait until next summer to move for Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham (The Sun, June 17).
Fabio Vieira - Liverpool have passed up the opportunity to sign Porto's Fabio Vieira having previously reached an agreement over the midfielder, with Arsenal set to sign the Portuguese player (Daily Mirror, June 17).
Kalvin Phillips - Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is ready to rival Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola this summer in the battle to land Kalvin Phillips from Leeds (Daily Mirror, June 6).
Raphinha - Liverpool are set to miss out on the signing of Leeds United winger Raphinha this summer (Daily Mirror, June 7); Liverpool have stepped up their pursuit of Leeds forward Raphinha because of doubts over Sadio Mane's future, and are considering an offer which would include them sending Takumi Minamino to Elland Road (Sunday Mirror, June 5).
Arnaut Danjuma - Manchester United and Liverpool are set to go head-to-head for the signing of Villarreal forward Danjuma after Newcastle pulled out of the race (Daily Express, June 4).
Lancelot Pollard - Rangers have beaten off competition from Manchester United and Liverpool to land Aberdeen wonderkid Pollard.
Ibrahim Sangare - Liverpool will make a move for PSV Eindhoven midfielder Sangare after missing out on Aurelien Tchouameni to Real Madrid. (Daily Express, May, 25). Chelsea and Manchester United are interested in signing Sangare this summer (Sky Sports, June 8).
Mason Mount - Liverpool and Manchester City have reportedly made "discreet" offers to Chelsea midfielder Mount amid interest from Manchester United (Daily Express, June 1).The latest players linked with a Liverpool exit
Neco Williams - Liverpool have turned down Nottingham Forest's opening offer for Neco Williams as they are holding out for £15million (Daily Mail, June 29); Fulham are preparing a £10m bid for Liverpool defender Williams as they look to fend off Nottingham Forest and Southampton (Daily Mail, June 21); Liverpool's £15m rated full-back Williams is a target for Nottingham Forest but Fulham, Southampton and PSV have also made offers (Daily Mail, June 20); Liverpool are looking to boost their transfer coffers by £30m by selling defenders Nat Phillips and Williams this summer (Daily Mirror, May 30).
Ben Davies - Celtic have 'made contact' with Liverpool over a potential move for Davies this summer as Parkhead chiefs revive their interest in the centre-back (Daily Record, June 23).
Sadio Mane - Mane joins Bayern | Klopp: He leaves Liverpool a modern-day icon; Mane will head to Bayern Munich on Tuesday for a medical ahead of his imminent move from Liverpool (Daily Mirror, June 19); Bayern Munich sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has played down attempts to sign Liverpool forward Mane, insisting they are 'working on several options' (Daily Mail, June 13); Liverpool's progress pursuing Darwin Nunez means Mane is edging towards his departure from Anfield for Bayern Munich (Sunday Telegraph, June 12).
Mohamed Salah - Liverpool have no concerns that Mohamed Salah will allow his standards to drop next season, but they are braced for the forward to leave on a free at the end of the next campaign (Sunday Mirror, June 19); Salah informed close friends that he was willing to commit his future to Liverpool but performed a drastic U-turn after Barcelona promised him a move next summer (Daily Mirror, June 7); Barcelona have told Liverpool forward Salah he can join their incoming galaxy of stars at the Nou Camp next summer (Sunday Mirror, June 5).
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has a surprise stance on Oxlade-Chamberlain as he would reportedly prefer to lose the star for free when his contract expires next summer rather than cash in on him now (Sunday Express, June 19); Liverpool will listen to offers of just £10m for Oxlade-Chamberlain, with Manchester United and West Ham thought to be interested (The Sun, June 13). Aston Villa and West Ham have been put on red alert with Liverpool ready to sell Oxlade-Chamberlain this summer (Daily Mirror, May 26).
Nathaniel Phillips - Liverpool are considering sanctioning defender Nat Phillips' return to Bournemouth on loan next season (Sunday Mirror, June 12).
Takumi Minamino - Liverpool's forgotten star Takumi Minamino could be set for a fresh start away from Anfield with a move that could hand a £17m boost to the Reds' transfer budget (Sunday Express, June 12). Forward will wait until after Liverpool's clash with Real Madrid in the Champions League final in Paris on Saturday before considering his future at the English Premier League club (Kyodo News, May 25).
Caoimhin Kelleher - Kelleher will hold discussions around his Liverpool future after the June block of internationals, with the goalkeeper admitting that he is "not sure" if he will be moving on from Anfield to play regularly next season. (Daily Mirror, June 7).Confirmed Liverpool signings
Calvin Ramsay - Aberdeen, £6.5m
Darwin Nunez - Benfica, £85m
Fabio Carvalho - Fulham, undisclosedConfirmed Liverpool departures
Divock Origi - released
Loris Karius - released
Sheyi Ojo - released
Ben Woodburn - released
Elijah Dixon-Bonner - released
Luis Longstaff - released
Sean Wilson - released
Conor Bradley - Bolton, loan
Sadio Mane - Bayern Munich, £35m
Adam Lewis - Newport, loan
Billy Koumetio - Austria Wien, loan
Takumi Minamino - Monaco, £15.5mFollow the summer transfer window with Sky Sports
Who will be on the move this summer when the transfer window opens on June 10 and closes at 11pm on September 1?
Keep up-to-date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports' digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.
[unable to retrieve full-text content]Almost every club in the Premier League played a role in promoting volatile unregulated financial assets to fans as prices crashed
In what is shaping up to be one of the biggest transfer sagas of the summer, Robert Lewandowski remains a Bayern Munich player (for now) and Barcelona keep being linked with him.
Lewandowski has made it clear publicly that he wants to move to Barcelona, and Barcelona have made it clear that they want to sign him — and yet, a deal does not appear close.
So where do Liverpool come into the equation? Well, having agreed to sell Sadio Mané to Bayern Munich for a fee that could reach £35m (but is initially less than £30m minus the add-ons), there is more than a little hypocrisy at play.
Mané is almost four years younger than Lewandowski. Both forwards have (or had, in the case of Mané) a year left on their contracts, and both wanted to leave.
But while Liverpool fairly quickly found a replacement and granted Mané's wish to move on, things have played out very differently with the Bundesliga champions — even though in the Senegalese, they have a replacement of their own.
Barcelona, despite having very limited finances to work with to put it mildly, have an interest, but whether they can meet Bayern Munich's demands remains to be seen. The goalposts appear to change with every passing week.
Sky Sports now report that Bayern want to receive a transfer fee of €60m (£52m) for their Polish striker (other reports had suggested a figure of around two-thirds of that only a week or two ago), despite Lewandowski publicly making it clear he wants out.
It remains a possibility that Lewandowski could stay. Bayern Munich would point out that he is under contract for another season and therefore has no choice — though while he would be unlikely to kick up too much of a fuss and would probably settle for staying another 12 months rather than wasting a year of his career, it seems counterproductive in the long-term.
What if, in 2024, a year before his contract with Bayern runs out, Mané decides that he wants to move to Spain, for example, to experience another league, having won, say, two consecutive titles in Germany and the Champions League?
What if other Bayern Munich players are not allowed to leave when they want to, despite having offered years of service? Perhaps then it would become more difficult to convince players to sign there to begin with.
Bayern Munich, Liverpool and others do not want to become stepping stones for other destinations, but there is a fine line between taking a stance on transfers and letting that dictate the future.
As Lewandowski continues to push for a move, Bayern Munich should take a leaf out of Liverpool's book. In the long-term, letting a player go when they are so adamant that they want to depart is usually the best course of action.
In the end, Liverpool did not harm Spurs too much by snatching Luis Díaz from under their noses. The full effects of the transfer saga will be felt in the seasons to come, with the Colombian hopefully following Mohamed Salah in establishing himself as a genuine world-beater, but Antonio Conte was able to guide his team to a top-four finish without him — doing some major damage to Liverpool and Manchester City along the way.
Liverpool know more than most that a second-choice signing can often prove every bit as effective as the number one name on the list. Julian Brandt and Mario Götze were not destined for Anfield, but Salah and Sadio Mané ended up as legends. Whether Dejan Kulusevski can do anywhere like as well at Spurs is doubtful, but an initially ‘incandescent’ Daniel Levy will surely have calmed down by now.
That bonhomie could be shattered, however, by another Liverpool hijacking operation. Spurs are reportedly in talks with RB Leipzig over a transfer — traditionally the stomping ground of FSG, they could yet move to protect their turf.
Good relations date way back to the Naby Keïta deal, struck in 2017 for completion the following year. Since then, the connection has only grown: Liverpool played host to Red Bull Salzburg last pre-season, and will come up against them and Leipzig this time around. Ibrahima Konaté and Takumi Minamino have both joined from the energy drink stable.
Clearly, plenty of Red Bull Group assets have moved to other clubs in that time, too. Liverpool do not have a monopoly. But when one of the brightest young talents in the setup is being linked with a transfer to a Premier League rival, it is bound to turn the heads of FSG.
The owners have reportedly finished their summer business. But they were not meant to be signing anyone in January either. Spurs forced their hand then by moving for Díaz, and they could do so again if they continue to pursue Joško Gvardiol.
A self-proclaimed admirer of Liverpool, Gvardiol is one of the most exciting defensive talents around. Aged just 20, he played 45 games for RB Leipzig last season, establishing himself as a mainstay in his debut season following a move from Dinamo Zagreb.
Leipzig’s Konaté replacement could yet become his long-term partner at Anfield. In the 97th percentile of centre-backs around Europe's top leagues for expected goals and assists per 90, he has something of the Joël Matip about him, while also possessing a Virgil van Dijk-esque quality of being able to ping the ball around the pitch at will. A powerhouse in terms of progressing the ball and with the defensive stats to back it up, he would fit right in at Liverpool.
For FSG, the only issue is that Liverpool are already extremely well-equipped at centre-back. Gvardiol impressed at left-back for Croatia at Euro 2020, so that could be an option too, but there is currently plenty of cover there as well. Despite his professed boyhood loyalties, the defender would likely prefer the proposition that Spurs could put on the table at present.
But Liverpool know how to get creative with RB Leipzig. They still remember the Keïta deal. FSG struck the agreement a year ahead of time, thus beating off anticipated competition for when his release clause kicked in.
Gvardiol has no release clause, but a similarly-structured deal could suit all parties (except Spurs) perfectly. Leipzig, who are said to have issued a ‘hands-off’ warning, would get a guarantee of keeping their young defender for another season. Much like the Keïta deal, they would also get a premium on top of his value: £31.5m, according to Transfermarkt. Liverpool, meanwhile, could secure themselves an elite talent without giving Jürgen Klopp a major selection headache.
It would be premature to usher Van Dijk and Matip out of the door just yet. Both about to turn 31, they have plenty of time left at the top. But by the end of 2022/23, the question of succession will at least be a little more pertinent. Konaté is the answer to one of those positions, but what about the other? It could have Gvardiol’s name on it.
This is where Joe Gomez inevitably comes into the equation. Positioned as the long-term partner to Konaté, it would represent quite the turnaround for the England international, who was all but frozen out last season. Many of his limited minutes came at right-back, where Calvin Ramsay has now been signed as back-up. While he could still be the eventual answer for Liverpool, he will not wait around forever.
If it was known that Gvardiol would be arriving next summer, everyone would have more clarity. Liverpool could sell Gomez or look to find him a value-inflating loan ahead of the World Cup. Alternatively, they could simply keep him on as an emergency fourth choice, knowing full well that even with a year left on his contract he would still sell for more than the £3.5m he cost way back in 2015.
Ultimately, FSG may decide that they have full faith in Gomez, and allow Spurs to land Gvardiol as a result. But he is a similarly head-turning talent to Díaz, and Liverpool will not want him to end up as the one that got away: perhaps Keïta holds the answer to the conundrum.