The central midfield position dominates this particular edition of the Liverpool transfer round-up, with a potentially huge addition being made, while two current Reds are in an uncertain position within the squad. After those members of Jurgen Klopp’s playing staff who are not involved in international action returned to Melwood over the last couple of days, it will be interesting to see if the transfer activity now begins to intensify.
Freshly imbued with an influx of cash and an exciting new manager in the form of Ronald Koeman, Everton are unlikely to have as poor a 2016/17 campaign as their last term was, and Liverpool are currently challenging their Merseyside rivals for an in-demand Belgian midfielder.
Axel Witsel; currently of Zenit St. Petersburg, has impressed for his national side under Marc Wilmots in this summer’s European Championships, and although Belgium have been dumped out of the tournament by Wales, this may only accelerate any move for the combative performer.
According to The Mirror, Jurgen Klopp sees Witsel as a prime candidate to become a rock for Liverpool at the heart of midfield, after apparently losing out to PSG in a race for Gregorz Krychowiak’s signature. With 51 appearances for club and country in 2015/16, Witsel clearly possesses the kind of engine which Klopp adores from his midfielders and as has been on display in France, does not lack in the technical aspects of his game either.
While it is clear to see Everton’s pressing demand for a high calibre performer in this area of the pitch, it is less obvious at the Anfield outfit. With Emre Can doing an admirable job in the deepest-lying position, and a multitude of hungry players fighting it out ahead of him for starting berths, it would appear that an addition of a player of Witsel’s stature would necessitate the departure of one of the club’s current crop of midfielders.
Potentially one of those most at risk of having his Anfield career cut short is ironically one of the members of the Welsh side who vanquished Witsel’s Belgium on Friday. Joe Allen has enjoyed a stellar Euro 2016, drawing well-earned praise from all quarters for his tireless performances in the heart of midfield, displaying terrific energy in tandem with filling the playmaker role for Chris Coleman’s men.
Before the tournament began, the figure that seemed to be Allen’s generally accepted valuation by Liverpool was £10 million. Now though, The Daily Mail report that this has risen by almost 50% to £14 million.
If true, this is only a sensible business decision being made by The Reds, but it may have negative consequences for the player himself if the club do stubbornly hold out for their desired fee. Allen’s former club, Swansea City, have previously expressed an interest, and the metronomic midfielder’s performances at Euro 2016 will surely have only made them more keen to land the Welshman.
Nonetheless, their earlier bid; which apparently only reached the value of £8 million, is some way off Liverpool’s revised valuation, and leaves the South Wales outfit with quite a degree of negotiating to do in order for the deal to come off.
With the magnitude and frequency of the rumblings surrounding Liverpool’s incomings in centre midfield hardly dying away, it still seems as though Joe Allen will be surplus to requirements next year. Perhaps a figure only slightly above £10 million will be an acceptable outcome for all involved, and will allow Joe Allen to further his individual career, attaining the levels that we have seen are clearly possible.
Finally, the long-serving Lucas Leiva is being linked with a move to Besiktas – the side who had apparently agreed a loan move for the Brazilian last summer before Liverpool pulled the plug on the deal to cover for an injury suffered by Jordan Henderson. Reported by This Is Anfield, but originally appearing in Turkish publication Fanatik, the club are keen to reignite their interest in the 29-year-old, ready to test Liverpool’s resolve.
Often much maligned, Lucas enjoyed a new lease of life once Jurgen Klopp burst onto the scene at Anfield and certainly played an important role in many vital matches during the course of the campaign, none more so than their eventual defeat to Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final. Here, the Brazilian operated at centre-half and was arguably The Reds’ finest performer on the day, despite being out of position.
With 315 Liverpool appearances to his name now, Lucas is able to boast the kind of experience that very few who remain at the club are able to even come close to matching. The player himself seems keen on securing at least a decent amount of first-team action next season; as reported in an earlier article, but how possible this is remains to be seen.
The former Gremio man only seems to fall further down the pecking order with each new acquisition that is made. Although most Liverpool fans would like to see the number 21 stay at the club, it now looks as though a similarly dramatic turnaround will be required for the club veteran to remain on Merseyside.
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