Liverpool needs to keep an especially close eye on its rivals in the transfer market this summer. After years of being one of the foremost destinations in Europe — a status FSG arguably failed to make the absolute most of — the club is now facing a hiatus from the Champions League, and will need to work harder to convince prospective targets.
Old foe Manchester United will be armed with both cash and Europe’s premier competition, a state of affairs that has already seen it pull ahead (according to the Daily Mail) in the race for Mason Mount. Meanwhile, the Chelsea star is not the only one to be linked with moves to both Liverpool and Old Trafford.
Nevertheless, Liverpool knows its draw remains strong, not least because of the presence of Jürgen Klopp at the helm. The boss has previously spoken about wanting players prepared to ‘push the train’, so he may not even be especially keen on those who need convincing to come to Anfield, but his own allure should ensure that most potential targets are eager to make the move.
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Even so, a couple of stars to have been linked to Liverpool over the past few months look to be edging closer to rivals. Manchester United is well-positioned for a Napoli star, while Chelsea is attempting an audacious late hijack of a European giant’s deal.
Here, Liverpool.com takes a scan around the other big sides in the Premier League and around Europe to take a look at the news going on at the other clubs.
Chelsea hijack plot
Liverpool has shopped in Portugal in each of the last two transfer windows. Amid links to Manuel Ugarte, there appeared to be a chance to complete a clean sweep of the country’s ‘big three’.
Speaking to Anfield Index, David Lynch has previously poured cold water on the links, with the club distancing itself from the tenacious Uruguayan international. And any Liverpool hopes looked to be done recently anyway, when reports emerged that PSG would trigger the $64m (£52m/€60m) release clause (via L’Equipe).
However, Chelsea now appears to be attempting an audacious late transfer hijack. Journalist Bruno Andrade has claimed the Blues have warned they are also willing to meet the release clause, with a representative deployed to Lisbon. The Daily Mail had previously cited interest from Stamford Bridge.
Liverpool.com says: Reading between the lines, it really seems like this was a transfer Liverpool never had legitimate interest in completing. But even if Ugarte was among the numerous midfielders tracked, the club would surely have backed away once this battle between super-clubs broke out.
The release clause at least keeps the transfer fee vaguely under control, although it’s still quite high for a breakout star outside Europe’s top five leagues. But Liverpool would want to avoid any shootout over wages. Regardless of whether Chelsea can beat PSG at the 11th hour, it seems unlikely there will be any great feeling of regret at Anfield.
Napoli star drops transfer hint
It’s probably another one to file in the ‘speculative’ Liverpool transfer link category, but Kim Min-Jae has been mentioned in connection with Klopp’s side ahead of this summer too. Last month, FootMercato claimed ‘the door had been opened’ for a move to the Reds.
However, in more recent times, Il Mattino has reported that a deal between Kim and Manchester United is ‘practically concluded’. And the defender himself has now weighed in.
Speaking on Korean television, via the Daily Mail, Kim had a telling response when asked about his future: “My agent is outside, ask him directly!”
Making light of the links, perhaps, but it seems Kim is likely to be on the move sooner rather than later.
Liverpool.com says: With an affordable release clause still in place for the early weeks of the transfer window, Kim always looked set to move, unless Napoli could convince him to sign a new deal that removed the clause. Serie A might be growing again on the pitch, but economic realities still made it overwhelmingly likely he would leave the division come the summer.
Given Liverpool is thought to be keen on adding another defender, getting Kim seemed like a potentially shrewd deal, not unlike the one which brought Ibrahima Konaté to the club via a clause perceived to be set below market value. However, it seems Manchester United is in the box seat, which has to go down as a bit of a shame.