After some early business in the form of Loris Karius, Liverpool have been fairly quiet in terms of their transfer activity in the last couple of weeks. Additions to the squad are the order of the day for most fans, but shedding some dead-wood and retaining their key names also remain high on the list of priorities.
The latter is why the persistent rumours of an impending departure for Philippe Coutinho have been particularly concerning in the past few days. PSG have apparently expressed an interest in the Brazilian; who is currently away with the South American giants taking part in the Copa America, but have yet to make a formal approach. Nonetheless, recent comments will not encourage the Anfield faithful that he is fully committed to staying, claiming that:
“I miss winning cups. Copa América is another opportunity for me, because every player dreams of winning cups.”
It already appears as though Liverpool have missed out on acquiring Mario Götze in the coming months – and if not, there is still a long road ahead – so signing players of comparable quality to Philippe Coutinho would possibly persuade him to stick it out at Anfield, rather than heading to some of the various European super-clubs where he knows that the talent accumulates in droves.
In the last day or so, international compatriot Dani Alves has declared Coutinho’s compatibility with FC Barcelona – Alves’ former long-term employers – and proposed that the former Inter Milan starlet joins up with fellow South Americans Neymar, Messi, and Luis Suarez. Alves said:
“Football is about living the moment,”
“Liverpool have history but you should consider playing for top UCL sides. He has the quality to play for Barcelona.”
Of course, any fee to take the magical number 10 away from Merseyside is likely to be an astronomical figure – one that Jurgen Klopp could use to great effect in enhancing the current squad – but Coutinho has become so integral to the side that it is unlikely that the transfer would occur with The Reds’ blessing.
With 12 goals and seven assists during the 2015/16 campaign, and scooping four awards at their end of season celebration, Coutinho’s value is clear for all to see, and the diminutive figure is appreciated by fans and players alike. Quite simply, it would be a hammer-blow to Klopp’s positivity and enthusiasm that he has created since his arrival in the first half of last season.
Liverpool’s loss to Sevilla in the final of the Europa League was a gut-wrenching watch for everyone supporting the side in red, but it was arguably the worst for Alberto Moreno, who was lambasted for his apparent incapability to defend or maintain a stable position as part of the back four. Although the signs had been there since the early weeks of the season, it appears as though this put Liverpool’s burning desire for a new left-back into sharp focus for Jurgen Klopp too, with several players from this position being linked to the club in the last few weeks.
Jonas Hector from FC Köln has long been a name on the lips of the fans, as a move for the German seemed to be moving ever closer as we entered the summer months. With concentration, crossing and blocking rated as some of the player’s strengths, it did seem as if he would be a prime candidate. Now though, there are conflicting reports about the status of any approach, with some going so far as to say that a fee has been agreed, while others have declared that Klopp’s interest in the player has cooled, and that other avenues would be explored.
Nonetheless, strengthening the left-back position does seem to be high on the agenda, and if Hector is not to be that man, then a target closer to home could fill the void. Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs – who is incredibly still only 26 years of age, despite having seemingly been around for ever – has been linked with the Merseysiders in establishments such as The Mirror and The Liverpool Echo. Although he is the same age as Hector, the Englishman of course boasts a far greater level of Premier League experience, a factor which is often key in determining how quickly a new signing will settle in.
Now that Nacho Monreal is firmly established as Arsenal’s first-choice full-back on the left flank, Gibbs has seen opportunities in starting XI limited. This may well have cost the player a place in the England squad for Euro 2016 this summer, with the likes of Danny Rose and Ryan Bertrand overtaking him in Roy Hodgson’s reckoning due to their prolonged period of consecutive matches for their respective sides.
This could have been a wake-up call for Kieran Gibbs who will not want to see his career stall and despite the fact that he has spent almost the entirety of his professional career with The Gunners, he may be persuaded to look for a new challenge. The same sources suggest that Arsenal would also not be averse to seeing their number three heading to the exit door, perhaps presenting a chance to secure a cut-price deal.
Could Jurgen Klopp make use of the man who only made three starts in the Premier League during 2015/16 for Arsenal, emerging from the bench a staggering 13 times? Liverpool may be able to negotiate a deal for less than the £10 million mark and if so, there would be few who would suggest that this was a poor piece of business.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Nizaam Jones