Liverpool: Leeds left-back linked; Balotelli to discuss move away; teenage Jamaican scouted
Yesterday evening marked the draw for the Champions League group stages, and but for an Alberto Moreno induced second half collapse in the Europa League final, Liverpool would have found themselves in it.
However, the Reds find themselves outside of Europe all together, meaning that their midweek calendar for the near future remains remarkably empty, except for the odd trip to Burton or Derby, in stark contrast to last season when they were playing two games almost every week.
One thing that is no different from last season, though, is that the aforementioned Moreno is still the first choice left-back and still causing Liverpool fans regular heart palpitations, just by being within sniffing distance of the team bus. The Reds have been chasing a new left-back all summer, to no avail, but they may have finally found a solution in the shape of Leeds United’s Charlie Taylor.
After being linked with the likes of impressive Germany full-back Jonas Hector for the majority of the summer, Taylor appears to be a slightly underwhelming choice to replace Moreno, but that doesn’t mean he should be dismissed immediately.
Taylor is just 22 years of age, and rated at just £7 million by Leeds. He may not be a spectacular name, or even have done a great deal in his career so far, but he has shown himself to be dependable and reliable and also has the ability to improve greatly as a player.
It may not be the signing Liverpool fans want, but the arrival of a new left-back, especially one who actually knows how to play there and defend is to be welcomed. Plus, the likes of Aaron Cresswell, mighty impressive for West Ham United, had never played above Championship level before the Hammers snapped him up. Taylor could be the same kind of player if given the chance.
One player who has certainly run out of chances is Liverpool’s failed transfer gamble Mario Balotelli, who is reportedly in Nice to discuss a loan move with the French club.
Balotelli; scorer of a solitary Premier League goal in his single Anfield season, has been the subject of mild interest from several Italian clubs, as well as Swiss side FC Sion, but it appears that Nice are now in pole position to secure his signature and keep Balotelli away from Anfield for another season.
Nice finished fourth in Ligue 1 last season, and therefore have Europa League football, which would give Balotelli the chance to showcase his talent on Europe’s secondary stage, opening the door to bigger clubs coming in if he were to impress.
The Reds are keen to get rid of Balotelli full time, but they may have to rely on the 26-year-old finding his form in a temporary stint in the South of France in order to achieve that aim.
Finally, the Reds are supposedly interested in the signing of Belgium’s young player of the year, Genk winger Leon Bailey.
Bailey, 18, scored six times in 36 appearances for the Belgian club last season, and the Jamaican winger has already been the subject of two failed £10 million bids from Ajax and PSG.
Chelsea and Leicester City are the two English clubs reported to be watching his progress, alongside Liverpool, and a move is unlikely this summer with the winger expressing his desire to remain at Genk. However, it is one to watch out for in the future.
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