The Naby Keïta transfer saga appears to have come to an end. Reports have emerged which claim Liverpool won’t be making another move for the player unless there is a major shift in RB Leipzig’s stance.
It comes just over a week after Jürgen Klopp’s side saw a €66million bid rejected by the German side who remain adamant their box-to-box midfielder isn’t for sale, and definitely won’t be sold during this transfer window.
The club’s sporting director Ralf Rangnick has always insisted that the club will not be selling any of their best players this summer, with no amount of money able to convince him otherwise.
However, it was believed that an attractive offer could tempt the Bundesliga runners-up into selling their star player. The Merseyside club thought they had done just that when they offered €21million more than what Keïta’s rumoured release clause is said to be when it becomes active next summer.
But, as things stand, their stance has yet to waver.
Goal.com claim a deal for the former Red Bull Salzburg man is “practically impossible,” while Paul Joyce of The Times has said the Reds have resigned themselves to the fact they will be unable to prize the midfielder away this summer and will revisit the situation next year.
With this in mind, we’ve decided to take a look at five players Liverpool could target if they want to strengthen their midfield ahead of a campaign in the Champions League.
They might not be like-for-like with Keita stylistically but Klopp is blessed with flexible midfielders meaning one size doesn’t have to fit all.
The Guinean is an all-rounder and would have rivalled Gini Wijnaldum and Adam Lallana for a place in the Liverpool XI, but the alternatives could operate in different positions instead, so be sure to keep an open mind.
The German midfielder’s stock is high right now after an impressive Confederations Cup campaign. He’s out of contract next summer and is thought to be signing a deal with Bayern Munich.
But Schalke could be tempted to cash in on him if the right offers comes along. He’s reportedly a transfer transfer for Arsenal but with the Gunners being pretty stocked in midfield a move is unlikely as things stand.
Liverpool may appear to be covered in midfield areas but with the loss of Lucas Leiva to Lazio and Emre Can potentially heading to Turin to join Juventus, there is a gap there and it’s one Goretkza could make his own.
The young German fits the player profile for arrivals at Anfield: Goretzka is young, he’s got an abundance of potential to go alongside the quality he already possesses, he’s versatile, he’s German and, to extent, he’s undervalued.
If that doesn’t sound like a Liverpool signing then I don’t know what does.
Stylistically he’d offer those in red a lot. He is aggressive and progressive when in possession. He carries the ball forward, takes opposition players out of the game with his direct style and looks to get his team onto the attack at any given opportunity.
The link emerged after reports emerged to suggest talks with RB Leipzig over Keïta had stalled. According to Corriero dello Sport, Liverpool had a €28million bid turned down by the Rome club for the midfielder.
They are said to value the Serbian powerhouse at close to the €60million mark, with rumours suggesting €62million would in fact be the magic number.
Liverpool have the money but will they be prepared to part with such a fee for a back-up option? It’s unlikely but not impossible, especially if Klopp does consider the midfield to be an area of weakness for his side.
He’s more Can than he is Keïta but if he brings his destructive form to the Premier League it’s doubtful anybody would mind who he is or isn’t similar to.
Jean Michaël Seri
Seri has been tentatively linked with a move to Anfield but there’s been nothing concrete as of yet. However, with valuations rising by the day in what has quickly turned into the most inflated transfer window ever, the Nice midfielder could turn out to be good value for money.
His current contract has a €40million release clause in it and, despite Roma and Spurs both showing an interest, it’s yet to be activated.
He may not be as good as Keïta and he’s just recently turned 26 years old, meaning there’s less room for development and Klopp can’t mould him like he could the Leipzig midfielder, but there’s still potential there.
And, at half the price of Keita, he’s worth looking at. With Monaco defying the odds to win the Ligue 1 title many overlooked a supremely talented Nice side making Seri somewhat underrated.
He finished the 2016/17 campaign with seven goals and nine assists. He was making 2.2 key passes and completing 1.2 dribbles per 90 minutes too. Seri also contributed defensively with 1.1 tackles and one interception on average. All fewer than Keïta managed last season but he’s costing half the price.
Arsenal’s utility man has been linked with a move to Merseyside since way back in December. Since the initial report emerged, it been similar to the Ross and Rachel storyline in Friends.
One minute he’s a top target for Klopp and Liverpool want to be involved in talks if Arsenal sanction a move.
The next the Gunners are point blank refusing to sell to Liverpool even if the midfielder turns down a new deal, that despite him having less than 12 months remaining on his current one.
Back and forth for over six months now. But with interest from other clubs waning and the player refusing to sign a new deal, Arsenal may be forced into selling him to a rival. And Oxlade-Chamberlain would be a shrewd signing for Liverpool.
His ability to operate in a number of roles makes him an ideal signing for Klopp with the German manager liking to have flexible players at his disposal to be as interchangeable as possible without needing to make substitutions.
He did a job as a wing-back for Arsenal last season and it’s the traits he showcased there – the ability to dribble past players and to be selective with his passes – which show why he would be a good addition to the Liverpool midfield.
His stamina and acceleration also play a part in helping him fit the midfield profile.
Sanches is the wildcard of the list. The 19-year-old was one of the most sought-after players during the 2016 summer window before Bayern Munich landed him in a deal reported to be worth €80million if all the add-ons were met.
His development in Bavaria has stalled though and recent reports in the media claim they are prepared to let the Portuguese international leave on loan with a clause to buy included.
Manchester United and AC Milan are thought to be the frontrunners for his signature, but if Liverpool entered the race and guaranteed first-team football then that could swing it in their favour.
There is a player there, you just have to look at his performance in Bayern’s friendly against Chelsea to see that, he just needs the patience and the trust of his manager to really showcase his talents on a regular basis.
Whether he could deliver right now is the question though, with Liverpool not really in the position to carry and develop a player who isn’t having a positive impact on the squad immediately. Not if their aspirations include a title challenge and a progressive run in Europe.