Liverpool’s Midfield Conundrum: Who should FSG target next?
Liverpool’s recent transfer window has been marked by significant changes, raising questions and excitement in equal measure. The Merseyside outfit now face a crucial juncture after losing many faces in the midfield area and how Liverpool progress in this window will define their upcoming season.
The departures of Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and James Milner on free transfers were met with relative happiness by supports as there was very little left to offer on the pitch by the trio, but the shockwaves truly hit when Fabinho and long-term captain Jordan Henderson were sold for £52m combined to cash-rich Saudi Arabian clubs. These moves have left a noticeable void in a midfield that was, by Liverpool’s own lofty standards, underwhelming last season, resulting in a Europa League spot and no silverware.
Liverpool’s response had been swift to replace the first trio of departures but the most recent sales are not without their complications. The acquisitions of Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister soon, two talents poised to rejuvenate the midfield, have brought a sense of optimism to Anfield after releasing Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Milner. Yet, with the recent loss of their defensive midfielders and no immediate replacements, concerns are mounting with the season just days away from beginning.
Among the names being floated as possible additions, Romeo Lavia of Southampton stands out as the most touted by journalists and media outlets. He fulfils the homegrown quota, put up impressive numbers in a dire Southampton side last year and will most likely go on to become one of the top midfield talents as a Belgium international in years to come. Despite showing quality in his first full season, the 19-year-old’s relative inexperience may be a gamble for a club in immediate need of stability.
Regardless, Liverpool must act as soon as possible due to Manchester City having a £40m buy-back clause which will be available next summer, and rumours are that Pep Guardiola would very much like the chance to bring the former academy prospect back to the Etihad.
Andre from Fluminense is another promising talent at 21 years of age and he is a different profile to Lavia altogether. He too put up impressive numbers last season in the Brazilian Serie A, but due to the seasons in Brazil running from winter to winter, the deal is proving to be very challenging for Liverpool. FSG will essentially have to cough up roughly £20m to secure his services, a price tag higher than if they were to wait until the winter when Fluminense are reportedly more willing to negotiate. The entire situation highlights how badly Liverpool were caught off-guard by both Henderson and Fabinho’s departures, and as a result they cannot afford to dither over whether they should pay over a certain amount. If they want Andre and Fluminense do not want to sell him mid-season, FSG must make them an offer they cannot refuse or face losing yet another target for Klopp due to their notoriously tight spending.
A more expensive, albeit potentially rewarding, option is Aurelien Tchoumeni, a player who turned Liverpool down for Real Madrid last summer. Though he hasn’t featured as prominently for Madrid as expected, the French international’s talent is still highly admired at Anfield. Acquiring him would be a strong statement, albeit at a significant financial cost. Whether FSG would sanction such a move after missing out on him for cheaper 12 months ago, remains to be seen.
The last option and by no means the least is Moises Caicedo at Brighton. The Ecuador international shone last season and it was well known since January that Liverpool were interested in prizing him from the Seagulls, but it is proving more difficult than Klopp could have imagined. With Chelsea also racing to sign Caicedo, it looks like if Liverpool don’t cough up a British record fee of around £110m and quickly hash out personal terms then he may well be playing at Stamford Bridge this season.
As the transfer window progresses, Liverpool’s midfield puzzle continues to intrigue fans and pundits alike. The club’s management must tread carefully, balancing the excitement of fresh faces with the necessity of experienced, defensive solidity. The clock is ticking, and Liverpool’s decisions in the coming days will not only shape their immediate future but possibly the legacy of an era. The world watches with bated breath, eager to see how this complex and thrilling chapter unfolds.