Jurgen Klopp seems to be looking for a very specific type of midfielder – of which there are a few. So late in the window, though, might he be tempted to compromise?
Liverpool are spending the final days of the summer transfer window desperately seeking a midfielder after Jurgen Klopp admitted he was wrong to think he could go into the current season with the options already at his disposal.
The Reds made overtures towards Aurelien Tchouameni but the France star opted instead for Real Madrid. Klopp then decided to make do – until last week after his side drew two and lost one of their first three games.
Klopp says the club will only move for ‘the right player’ and the profile he seems to be looking for is that of a midfielder comfortable going both ways, one who can take Liverpool forward on the dribble or with a pass. Of course, he must also be a workhorse off the ball to win it back.
With barely any time left, however, who might Klopp sign? Here are five who might do a job…
The RB Leipzig midfielder has just the profile Klopp is looking for. The Austrian can press like a rabid dog – FBREF has him in the 99th percentile for pressures in Europe’s top five leagues over the last year. But, like Thiago, he is extremely adept at playing through pressure when opponents chase him down.
Laimer is also in the final year of his contract so you might think there is a deal to be done. But RB Leipzig have refused to do business all summer and their stance is unlikely to soften so close to the deadline.
Bayern Munich tried hard to take Laimer earlier in the summer, with their third bid going in at the start of August. That, like the first two, failed as Leipzig stood firm, despite Laimer’s insistence that he wouldn’t sign a new deal after agreeing terms with Bayern.
The Brighton midfielder has been one of the stars of their impressive start and his form is all the more remarkable when you consider that Caicedo is still a Premier League rookie.
The Ecuadorian has only 12 top-flight appearances to his name having made his debut in April. After joining from Independiente del Valle in April 2021, Caicedo was groomed to become Yves Bissouma’s replacement in Brighton’s engine room; it’s fair to say he has flourished there.
In those appearances and the eight he made through the run-in last season, Caicedo has shown all the traits that made Manchester United so keen to sign him last year. But the Red Devils decided their couldn’t deal with a ‘clusterf***’ around his representatives. So they walked away, allowing Brighton to bag a bargain.
That, however, doesn’t mean Caicedo might be available on the cheap. Liverpool reportedly offered £42million – almost a ten-fold return on their initial investment – but as Graham Potter said this week, that won’t matter to Tony Bloom. Caicedo’s value will only grow through the season, with the Seagulls seeing no incentive to sell, unless Liverpool offer silly money before Thursday. Which they almost certainly won’t.
Will someone please just sign Tielemans?
It seemed Arsenal were perfect for the Belgium midfielder and the Gunners have reportedly been in contact with him all summer. But the expected offer hasn’t materialised and Mikel Arteta’s priorities may have changed, with injuries and absences making a No.6 perhaps more desirable.
Tielemans, like Laimer, is in the final year of his contract and certainly attainable, even if Leicester have to balance the need to pull in funds with the fact they haven’t much time to source any replacements, for him or anyone else. But they will find an offer of £20million almost impossible to resist.
So Liverpool could go and get Tielemans – but if Klopp thought he was right for his midfield, the Belgian would almost certainly be wearing a red shirt already. Defensively, Tielemans doesn’t have the pedigree of some of the other possible targets, even if his attacking traits make him a tempting proposition with so little time available.
Like Laimer and Tielemans, Milinkovic-Savic is in to the final year of his contract and going for considerably cheaper than the £100million he was valued at when Manchester United were sniffing a few seasons ago.
Similar to Tielemans, Milinkovic-Savic is more appealing from an attacking perspective. Last season for Lazio, he scored 10 goals and offered 11 assists from midfield.
FBREF have the Serbia star pinned as similar in style to Tielemans and Jude Bellingham, who Klopp would sign above anyone else this week if it were feasible. As it is, he’ll probably have to wait a year. Which leads us to conclude that Liverpool might place more emphasis on any new signing’s defensive contribution.
Borussia Monchengladbach’s Kone seems a better fit for the specific profile Klopp is targeting before the deadline.
The Frenchman has caught the eye of clubs across Europe with his dynamic box-to-box style and his ability to take the ball under pressure. Statistically and stylistically, Kone is of a similar profile to Tchouameni during the Real Madrid new boy’s final campaign with Monaco.
But no club has yet taken a chance on Kone, with Newcastle said to have been willing to fork out £35million. ‘Gladbach would be reluctant sellers as they bid to bounce back from a disappointing 10th-place finish in Bundesliga last term. With Kone under contract until 2025, his value will continue to rise if he can repeat the form of his maiden season in Germany after moving from Toulouse a year ago for around £6.5million.
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