Jul 24, 2017
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Three alternatives to Naby Keita as Liverpool decide to try again next year

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There is bad news for Liverpool fans as The Times claim that the Reds are preparing to drop their interest in Red Bull Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita until next summer. The Bundesliga side are remaining firmly against selling the 22-year-old.

Having had two bids, worth £57 million and £66 million, rejected, the club are not considering an improved bid. Those fees would already have smashed the club’s transfer record of £35 million, but it is still not enough to convince the Germans.

For Jurgen Klopp, it causes an issue as he looks to build his side for the 2017/18 campaign. A return to the Champions League is on the cards and that will require added squad depth. With that in mind, he will be considering how he can manage his three man midfield without Keita.

Use Marko Grujic

The young midfielder failed to make much of an impact in his debut season. The Serbian made just five substitute appearances, totaling 39 minutes of Premier League action, in an injury hit campaign for the 21-year-old.

He has, however, been impressive in pre-season. His 30-yard goal in the pre-season opener against Tranmere Rovers set the tone for what has been a series of commanding displays in the middle of the park.

Whilst it is clear that he is not yet anywhere near the quality of Keita, he could come into contention this season. Tough tackling and gritty, he fits the role of midfield enforcer well and can also adapt to play in a more advanced role as a playmaker.

The return of James Milner to midfield

With Andrew Robertson signed up, James Milner will have competition at left-back and is likely to be rotated with the Scottish international.

It may alternatively enable Klopp to use the experienced professional in the middle of the park. It is a position Milner is comfortable with, having initially been signed by Brendan Rodgers to play in that role at Anfield, after years in the position at the Etihad for Manchester City.

This option might not be ideal, but if injuries, suspensions and an intense fixture list could mean that it becomes necessary. Now that the club finally have a reliable option at left-back, Milner can be deployed elsewhere.

Field a more attacking line-up

If pre-season has been anything to go by, Jurgen Klopp will go all out. At various time this season, the German has deployed more offensive players as part of the midfield three.

Philippe Coutinho is expected to play in a more central attacking role this season, perhaps taking up the position played by Adam Lallana last season. That role, at the front of the midfield three, would give the Brazilian more freedom to roam and could suit his game.

An alternative may be Ben Woodburn. The teenage striker broke into the squad last season but has been deployed as an attacking midfielder in pre-season. If Klopp opts to pursue this path for the Welsh starlet, he could become an intriguing option.

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Sam is a Southend United fan and student based in the South-West. He has previously worked for various publications, including FourFourTwo magazine and ITV. Sam also has an extensive knowledge of Spanish football and has previously lived and worked in Spain. Find Sam on Twitter at @samleveridge.

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