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Could Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech be Philippe Coutinho’s replacement at Liverpool?

Jake Jackman

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Hakim Ziyech

Liverpool need to have a strong finish to the transfer window with a minimum of three signings required if they are going to seriously challenge for the title. They have made only three first-team additions and with the added games that European football will bring, their squad needs more depth if they are to cope. Philippe Coutinho continues to be linked with Barcelona, but the Reds can’t afford to lose him until they identify and sign a replacement.

Lions De l’Atlas report that the Reds want to sign Hakim Ziyech from Ajax and see him as the right profile of player to replace their influential Brazilian. The report states that the club have sent representatives to Amsterdam and their interest has intensified as a result of the Dutch club being knocked out of the Champions League. Jurgen Klopp is a huge fan of the Moroccan international and is pressing his board to make a move happen.

What would he bring to Anfield?

As a like-for-like replacement, there are few better and more attainable players than Ziyech across European football. He is the best player in the Eredivisie and ready to make the step up to a bigger league. Last season, he was one of the key players as Ajax got to the Europa League final and he showed enough class throughout the competition to suggest he can transition easily to a bigger European league.

Ziyech is a typical number ten and he possesses the ability to glide past challenges with ease, as he showed on numerous occasions last season. When he is on the ball, he is always looking to make things happen and he is intelligent when he has the opportunity to influence proceedings. His vision allows him to operate a second quicker than the opposition defenders. The 23-year-old has a good range of passing and he isn’t averse to attempting risky passes to create an opening for his team, which come off more often than not.

One issue with his game is his fondness of shooting from range. Although he possesses the technique to put the ball in the top corner from outside the area, he attempts to do it far too often. If he decreased his amount of long shots, he would become a more effective player.

How likely is a move?

The source is questionable as it is a Moroccan news site and their reliability isn’t known, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Liverpool haven’t considered Ziyech as a possible replacement for Coutinho. Klopp will know that it is a possibility that the Brazilian is sold to Barcelona and as a result, he needs to make sure he has a replacement in mind. The Ajax midfielder is similar to Coutinho in several ways and given he plays in the Eredivisie, a deal would be possible.

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Despite their size, Ajax don’t possess the finances that other top European clubs have. Liverpool would be able to give them an offer that they couldn’t turn down and force a deal through late in the window if required. Given the source, this should be approached with caution, but it could be one that develops alongside the Coutinho deal.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Arsenal

Fans criticise Jack Wilshere omission after Jordan Henderson’s ‘toothless’ England performance

Gareth Southgate’s bold decision is already being questioned.

Jamie Watts

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England put an end to the World Cup opener curse after Harry Kane’s stoppage time winner ensured England started the tournament with a victory, with Tunisia looking more than likely to take their share of the points in Volgograd.

After a promising opening 20 minutes, England’s shortcomings in front of goal were punished as Tunisia were awarded a penalty – using VAR – and Ferjani Sassi equalised from the spot, heaping pressure on Gareth Southgate’s outfit to score a second.

But creativity was scarce from the Three Lions, in what was a stressful and frustrating half to watch for the nation.

Photo: Getty Images

And Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson has come under fire for his performance in the heart of the midfield, with many believing that Arsenal‘s Jack Wilshere would have been more creative and imaginative in central midfield, if he wasn’t omitted from international duties this earlier this summer.

Henderson frequently opted for possession over creativity and was guilty of taking too many touches in the midfield yesterday, particularly in the second half and the speed of play was directly affected as a result.

Here’s the Twitter reaction:

By no means did the 28-year-old have an awful game, but his choice of pass was often safe and as a result England lacked impetus and drive in the second-half, until the additions of Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek added a spark in the final third.

Gareth Southgate will often opt for control in central midfield against tougher opposition – with Belgium on the horizon – but against the likes of Tunisia and Panama, the side can afford to take more risks and be more inventive, and the decision to leave Wilshere at home is already being questioned after just one game.

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Liverpool

Gary Neville warns against Liverpool landing Xherdan Shaqiri this summer

The ex-Manchester United man wasn’t impressed with the Swiss international.

Jamie Watts

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Premier League pundit and Manchester United legend Gary Neville appears to have warned Liverpool – and other potential suitors – off signing Stoke City maestro Xherdan Shaqiri this summer, after his “lazy” performance against Brazil last night.

Jurgen Klopp is reportedly keen on the £12 million man, after seeing a move for Lyon star Nabil Fekir fall through in advanced stages, and is likely to step up his interest once the World Cup concludes, according to reports from the Mirror.

The Reds have been courting the Swiss international since 2014, before Jurgen Klopp was manager, back when former club Bayern Munich were said to have blocked a move, and he later joined Inter Milan.

Photo: Getty Images

Now, having been relegated with Stoke City, it looks increasingly likely that the 26-year-old will leave the bet365 Stadium. But, Neville – who joined the ITV panel as a pundit yersterday – has suggested that the Champions League runners-up would be best advised to look elsewhere (the Express).

Speaking before the game, Neville revealed: “I’m not a fan of Shaqiri to be honest with you. I think that was made worse by the fact that he distanced himself from his teammates as Stoke. [Stoke] were unprofessional last season, there’s no doubt, and he epitomises it.

“He could score the goal of the tournament and could have the most amazing game. But he could also be there for three matches, do nothing and just amble and waddle around.”

Shaqiri, despite his limited work-rate, did provide a pivotal moment in the game, as his perfectly floated corner landed on the head of Steven Zuber in the second-half, with the defender equalling the score, and the Swiss taking their equal share of points on the night.

Photo: Getty Images

Prior to this, Neville slammed his work-rate during the half-time interval claiming: “Shaqiri is just lazy. There’s no other word for him. He will not run back.” And this was evident as captain Steven Lichtsteiner was forced to shackle Neymar, Marcelo and Philippe Coutinho on his own for large periods.

Given the high-pressing, high-energy philosophy that Klopp’s outfit employs, Neville could be making a crucial point. But time will tell to see if the Potter’s performance has influenced Liverpool’s decision in the near future.

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Liverpool

Liverpool fans won’t be disheartened by lack of Timo Werner talks after World Cup display

The German has been heavily linked with Liverpool but is still not the finished article.

Mathew Nash

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One man who has been consistently linked with a move to Liverpool in recent seasons is German striker Timo Werner. The Leipzig star was, therefore, being watched closely by Reds fans when Germany took on Mexico in the first game of Germany’s World Cup defence.

Werner, who has also been tipped as one of 10 players to watch at the World Cup by The Boot Room, did not have his best game.

The Leipzig striker struggled throughout the game to make any sort of impact against Mexico’s excellent defenders. In the end, he was hauled off, limping, after a poor display in Moscow, with El Tri winning the game 1-0.

Whilst Liverpool continues to be a rumoured destination for Werner, it is clear that the Reds are not apparently interested. It was reported by the Liverpool Echo that the club made it clear he was not a target as far back as March. Which was a surprise, considering he has scored 21 goals this season.

(Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

But based on this performance, Liverpool fans will not be too disappointed in the decision.

With Nabil Fekir no longer arriving, the Werner rumours had recently come back to the surface. But it would appear Rhian Brewster, handed a new deal by Liverpool this weekend, may now get a pathway to the first-team.

As for Werner, his ability is not in doubt. This summer he may make a move and wherever he goes he will surely be a success.

But Liverpool will not be overly concerned about their decision to let a transfer move slide.   

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