Jurgen Klopp’s first summer transfer window as Liverpool manager has certainly got off to a busy start, with four new faces already arriving for pre-season training at Anfield. Joel Matip, Marko Grujic (who were both signed in January), Loris Karius and Sadio Mane have all arrived in Merseyside as the German manager attempts to build a squad that can fire the Reds back into the Champions League.
In a quiet day of news on new arrivals, Liverpool may have been joined in the race to sign Germany and Koln full-back Jonas Hector by Premier League rivals Tottenham, according to Cologne-based news source Express.
Hector, who has impressed for Germany at the European Championship, seemingly providing a sturdy fix for Die Mannschaft’s left-back problem, has reportedly been on Klopp’s radar all summer, and it is thought a bid of around £20 million would secure the signing of the 26-year-old.
The news that Tottenham are in the race to sign Hector could be a massive blow for Liverpool, who will be very keen to reinforce their options on the left side of defence after Alberto Moreno’s inconsistent performances last term, especially in the Europa League final defeat to Sevilla. Hector could be the calming influence that could improve this vulnerable area in the team, and the Reds should fight to ensure that Tottenham don’t win the race to his signature.
Despite the relatively low levels of incoming activity at Anfield, there has been plenty of news concerning outgoing players. The first of these concerns Christian Benteke, who is reportedly heading towards the exit door after Crystal Palace tabled an improved £31.5 million offer for the Belgian forward.
Benteke, who scored just nine Premier League goals in a difficult debut season for Liverpool, would appear to be a good fit for Crystal Palace, who have already spent heavily in the window on the likes of Andros Townsend, Steve Mandanda and, most recently, James Tomkins. The Belgian has struggled to fit into Klopp’s high pressing system, and, whilst still proving himself to be a good player, would likely be behind Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi, Danny Ings and possibly even Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino in the attacking pecking order.
As much as Liverpool would be losing a good player, Benteke could thrive at Palace with support from Yannick Bolasie, Wilfried Zaha, Yohan Cabaye and Andros Townsend, and recouping all but £1 million of the fee they paid Aston Villa for Benteke would represent a good deal for all parties.
If Benteke’s seemingly short stint at Anfield will be described as unsuccessful, then Mario Balotelli’s was a downright disaster. After just one Premier League goal and an unsuccessful season on loan at AC Milan, Balotelli returned to pre-season training with little hope of regaining any sort of place in the team.
Thankfully for the Italian, and Liverpool, Sampdoria may be a possible way out of his Liverpool nightmare, with the Genoa club reportedly ready to offer Balotelli a life-line. A fee is yet to be mooted, but it is unlikely that Klopp will hold out for a big offer, and will instead attempt to get Balotelli off the books as soon as possible. As for Mario, a move back to Italy may give him the chance to revive his stuttering career, which looks to be dying a premature death.
Finally, Liverpool have decided to hold onto one of their most promising young players, as they rejected a bid in excess of £1 million from Wigan Athletic for Cameron Brannagan.
Brannagan, an impressive central midfielder at under-21 level, made nine appearances for the Reds last campaign, including three in the Premier League and two in Europe. Klopp’s decision to keep Brannagan in his squad for the current season suggests that he has plans to utilise the youngster this campaign. However, with a lesser fixture list than last season and a packed midfield roster which has already been boosted by the addition of Grujic, a loan move may still be a sensible option to aid Brannagan’s development.
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