Liverpool: Long-serving duo heading for exit; West Brom want young winger
In a round-up focused almost entirely on out-goings, following the Sadio Mané madness over the last couple of days, it is reported that Martin Skrtel’s route out of Anfield looks set to come to a prompt conclusion.
The 31-year-old centre-half has been the subject of much speculation, and despite being linked strongly with Besiktas, it is fellow Turkish outfit Fenerbahce who look as though they have nearly got the deal over the line. A £5.5 million transfer is reported, and would represent solid business for Liverpool, considering the almost complete lack of game-time that Skrtel would expect in 2016/17, and the fact that he is one of the highest wage-earners at the Merseyside club.
Commenting on both the acquisition of Martin Skrtel and the club’s endeavours to recruit PSG full-back Gregory van der Wiel, Fenerbahce’s president Aziz Yildrim claimed that:
“Van der Wiel and Slovak Skrtel transfers are almost done”.
He certainly sounds confident, and I imagine that neither Liverpool nor Fenerbahce supporters wish for him to be mistaken.
His calamitous performances for most of the 2015/16 campaign repeatedly hammered additional nails into the Slovakian’s Anfield coffin, and despite already letting the veteran Kolo Touré depart the club over the summer, there does not appear to be a scenario where Martin Skrtel fails to follow him out of the door.
Summer signing Joel Matip, Mamadou Sakho, and Dejan Lovren are far above the long-serving defender in Jurgen Klopp’s thoughts, and with the imminent return to fitness of the versatile Joe Gomez, he has only fallen further down the pecking order.
Another Liverpool stalwart over the years is also facing a summer of insecurity, with his future apparently in the balance. Lucas Leiva is unsure of what next season will hold for him, according to The Liverpool Echo, and you cannot say that his concerns are unjustified.
The 29-year-old holding midfielder has said:
“There have been some changes last season, with the coaching change,” said the Brazilian, speaking to Radio Joven Pan.
“I still do not know exactly what will be my role within the group, but I am returning (to England) on Thursday to start the pre-season.
“It is the first transfer window in which Klopp will participate more actively in Liverpool, so I’ll just get a better idea when I return.
“Whatever happens, the idea, as always, is to stay in Europe, especially in England, which has a very strong and good league to play.”
While there are certainly a multitude of central midfielders at Klopp’s disposal next term; with the potential to add yet more in the form of Piotr Zielinski, Lucas still brings something to the table that no other player really does – certainly not as well as the Brazilian.
Emre Can’s rapid rise to the status of one of the first names on the team sheet does not bode well for Lucas’ future, but while the German is adept at going forward and has the occasional ambition to contribute in the offensive areas of the field, Lucas is content with mopping up in front of the back four. Therefore, countering his lack of speed in comparison to Can or Henderson, the veteran is rarely too far from where he needs to be when Liverpool lose the ball.
In addition, he demonstrated his value as a squad member when filling in adeptly at centre-half at times last season, including a stellar display in the Capital One Cup Final. His utility at the highest level may well be on the wane, but it is by no means over, and Jurgen Klopp would be wise to retain Lucas’ experience in the wake of losing Martin Skrtel and Kolo Touré this summer.
Finally, reports have emerged of fresh interest in Jordon Ibe, with The Daily Mirror claiming that West Bromwich Albion see him as a possible replacement for Saido Berahino, should the sulky forward leave for Stoke City.
After being pictured in a West Ham United training top earlier in the month, rumours of an imminent departure were quashed when the circumstances were explained away as something far more innocent, however, Ibe’s future is far from secure.
It is unclear whether any deal to take Jordon Ibe from Anfield to the Hawthorns would be on loan or a permanent basis, but given the almost complete lack of width among the Liverpool squad, Klopp will surely be loath to give up on this young talent quite yet.
Nevertheless, with the recent acquisition of Sadio Mané in a £34 million deal, Ibe’s chances of impressing next season have become slimmer, especially given the lack of European football for the Merseyside outfit. Perhaps a loan move would be the best option right now for Liverpool’s hierarchy, then able to assess the situation once more this time next year.
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