Liverpool: Improved bid for Portugal midfielder; uncertainty over winger; Swindon loan youngster
With just a week to go until Liverpool’s first game of the 2016/17 Premier League season against Arsenal, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Jurgen Klopp’s transfer activity drawing to a close, especially with seven new faces in the squad.
Klopp, though, is insistent that business will not be complete until the deadline, meaning that the Reds are still being linked to a number of big name signings as they look to improve upon their eighth place finish in the Premier League last campaign.
The biggest name the club are currently being linked with is Portugal’s Euro 2016 winning winger, Joao Mario, currently of Sporting Lisbon. The Reds reportedly had a £33.5 million bid for Mario turned down earlier in the window, and Klopp is apparently keen to come back in for the midfielder with an improved offer.
The rumours surrounding Liverpool and Mario are certainly interesting to examine. With Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum joining the squad this summer, the Reds are blessed with a considerable amount of attacking midfield talent. Mario would certainly add to that talent, but would not necessarily be a critical part of the starting eleven.
This makes the transfer fee somewhat of an issue. It is clear from Liverpool’s earlier rejected bid that Mario will cost around £40 million, a club transfer record, and to take this gamble on a player who might not even be first choice in his position would be fairly reckless.
Mario is a fine player, but not really excellent, with his abilities mostly lying in his boundless energy rather than his creativity or finishing ability. He would fit in well with the Liverpool system, as his ability to press the ball high up the pitch is very good, but to warrant the kind of transfer fee Sporting are asking for, Mario would need to be a better all round player than he currently is.
As unlikely as the transfer of Mario is, it could hinge on the future of Serbian winger Lazar Markovic. Signed for £20 million just two seasons ago, Markovic struggled to settle on Merseyside, and an injury hit loan at Fenerbahce hardly helped his cause.
Klopp has praised the development of the 22-year-old over pre-season, but still concedes that he is unsure whether Markovic will be part of his plans for the new season. There is no doubt that Markovic’s electric pace would be an asset for Liverpool, but his hamstring injury from last season could have dampened this slightly, which would reduce the Serbian’s already limited impact for the new season.
For the purpose of squad depth, and still with astronomical potential, Markovic should be kept as part of the Liverpool squad. He can still offer something different, but if this season doesn’t go too well, next summer might be the time to move Markovic on.
Finally, Liverpool have tied down central defender Lloyd Jones on a new contract, but have loaned the defender to Swindon Town for the new season. 20-year-old Jones, who was signed from Plymouth Argyle’s academy in 2011, has already had several loan spells in his Liverpool career, and is tipped for a bright future, but another season of first team football in League One with the Robins should aid his development positively.
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