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Three alternatives to Naby Keita as Liverpool decide to try again next year



Naby Keita

There is bad news for Liverpool fans as The Times claim that the Reds are preparing to drop their interest in Red Bull Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita until next summer. The Bundesliga side are remaining firmly against selling the 22-year-old.

Having had two bids, worth £57 million and £66 million, rejected, the club are not considering an improved bid. Those fees would already have smashed the club’s transfer record of £35 million, but it is still not enough to convince the Germans.

For Jurgen Klopp, it causes an issue as he looks to build his side for the 2017/18 campaign. A return to the Champions League is on the cards and that will require added squad depth. With that in mind, he will be considering how he can manage his three man midfield without Keita.

Use Marko Grujic

The young midfielder failed to make much of an impact in his debut season. The Serbian made just five substitute appearances, totaling 39 minutes of Premier League action, in an injury hit campaign for the 21-year-old.

He has, however, been impressive in pre-season. His 30-yard goal in the pre-season opener against Tranmere Rovers set the tone for what has been a series of commanding displays in the middle of the park.

Whilst it is clear that he is not yet anywhere near the quality of Keita, he could come into contention this season. Tough tackling and gritty, he fits the role of midfield enforcer well and can also adapt to play in a more advanced role as a playmaker.

The return of James Milner to midfield

With Andrew Robertson signed up, James Milner will have competition at left-back and is likely to be rotated with the Scottish international.

It may alternatively enable Klopp to use the experienced professional in the middle of the park. It is a position Milner is comfortable with, having initially been signed by Brendan Rodgers to play in that role at Anfield, after years in the position at the Etihad for Manchester City.

This option might not be ideal, but if injuries, suspensions and an intense fixture list could mean that it becomes necessary. Now that the club finally have a reliable option at left-back, Milner can be deployed elsewhere.

Field a more attacking line-up

If pre-season has been anything to go by, Jurgen Klopp will go all out. At various time this season, the German has deployed more offensive players as part of the midfield three.

Philippe Coutinho is expected to play in a more central attacking role this season, perhaps taking up the position played by Adam Lallana last season. That role, at the front of the midfield three, would give the Brazilian more freedom to roam and could suit his game.

An alternative may be Ben Woodburn. The teenage striker broke into the squad last season but has been deployed as an attacking midfielder in pre-season. If Klopp opts to pursue this path for the Welsh starlet, he could become an intriguing option.

Sam is a football journalist focusing on English football at all levels and Spanish football. He also writes for Spain's biggest daily sports newspaper, MARCA, as well as The Boot Room. Find Sam on Twitter at @samleveridge.

English Premier League

Andrew Robertson the most important Liverpool summer signing

The Scottish left-back has plugged a gap that has existed at Liverpool for some time.



Mohamed Salah rightly received all the praise yesterday, after Liverpool put Watford to the sword in the Premier League.

Liverpool beat the Hornets 5-0 at Anfield, with the Egyptian scoring four of the goals.

It is hard to argue with Salah being the club’s best signing in the summer. His tally of 37 goals in 43 games certainly highlights that fact. 

However, the most important signing might have been that of Andrew Robertson.

The Scottish left-back joined from Hull City in a deal, reported by the Independent, to be worth around £8 million. That price-tag is now looking an absolute bargain.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Liverpool have had problems at left-back for a number of seasons.

Alberto Moreno looked like being the solution. However, the Spaniard’s defensive work and decision making made him a liability.

Jon Flanagan, who was Brendan Rodgers’ regular left-back, has not reached similar heights since a series of knee injuries decimated his promising career.

Last season saw James Milner fill the role. The experienced midfielder played well out of position but long-term, was not the solution.

Now, Liverpool have Robertson. The Scotland international has made the step up from his time at Hull with ease.

The 24-year-old Glaswegian is not only a threat going forward, but defensively he is exceptional.

His delivery into the box is undoubtedly exemplary, but he is equally adept at stopping opposing players from getting near Liverpool’s.

Liverpool have managed to bring in a player perfectly suited to Jurgen Klopp’s style of play.

Heavy-metal is the way Robertson plays in both attack and defence and the fans at Anfield already love him.

(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

At just £8 million and only 24-years-old Liverpool picked up the bargain of the summer in the Premier League.

If Robertson can continue to progress and play with the same level of consistency he already has, then a decade of dominance at left-back could follow as Liverpool’s left-back.

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Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah within touching distance of all-time Premier League goal-scoring record

The Egyptian international has 28 Premier League goals this term.



Photo: Getty Images

Anfield witnessed a truly special moment in the second half of Liverpool’s 5-0 thrashing of Watford on Saturday. Winning 3-0, Liverpool were running riot in wintry conditions, and Mohamed Salah collected the ball just inside the box on a hat-trick.

What followed was absolute magic, emblematic of a dream debut season in the north-west for the Egyptian. Salah was mobbed by three defenders, but left all three in the dust with one deft cut-back.

Then, with two more Watford players crashing in on the ball, Salah remarkably managed to poke an improvised finish into the far corner past the helpless Orestis Karnezis.

As Salah wheeled away in celebration, tongue stuck out and arms extended, Anfield reveled in history in the making. That goal marked Salah’s 27th of the Premier League season and he would go on to score his 28th just eight minutes later.

(Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

The Egyptian is on course to smash the Premier League scoring records in emphatic fashion. The current record is 31 goals, a tally achieved by Alan Shearer in 1995/96, Cristiano Ronaldo in 2007/08, and fellow Red Luis Suarez in 2013/14.

With seven matches remaining, including fixtures against the likes of West Brom and Stoke, few would bet against Salah demolishing the 22-year-old record.

The achievement would place Salah in the illustrious company of Premier League legends, an incredible feat for a player who many in England wrote off during his short spell at Chelsea.

Thanks to Salah, Liverpool have barely missed a step after the departure of Philippe Coutinho in January, advancing to the Champions League quarterfinals and cementing their top-four position.

The prolific winger is proving all of his doubters wrong in audacious fashion, and with a Premier League Golden Boot and goal-scoring record seemingly on the way, he is one of the most in-form players in the world.

The early-April European clash with Manchester City will provide Salah with, perhaps, his biggest stage yet. Expect the top goalscorer in England to rise to the occasion.

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Jugen Klopp wanted him in 2016, Filip Kostic set for cut-price exit

The Serbian is set to be relegated with Hamburg.



In the summer of 2016 Liverpool were being linked with the signature of Serbian winger Filip Kostic. The Independent reported that Liverpool, and Tottenham Hotspur, had both watched the player, but had missed out. Hamburg instead signed Kostic from Bundesliga rivals Stuttgart for £12 million.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp would have known all about Kostic through his Bundesliga links and seeing him move elsewhere would have been frustrating. But, nearly two years on from Kostic’s Hamburg move, Liverpool may feel they dodged a bullet.

Hamburg’s Serbian midfielder Filip Kostic (L) celebrates scoring the 1-0 with Hamburg’s defender Matthias Ostrzolek during the German first division Bundesliga football match between TSG Hoffenheim and Hamburg SV in Sinsheim, southern Germany, on November 20, 2016. / AFP / DANIEL ROLAND / RESTRICTIONS: DURING MATCH TIME: DFL RULES TO LIMIT THE ONLINE USAGE TO 15 PICTURES PER MATCH AND FORBID IMAGE SEQUENCES TO SIMULATE VIDEO. == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE == FOR FURTHER QUERIES PLEASE CONTACT DFL DIRECTLY AT + 49 69 650050 (Photo credit should read DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Images)

This summer, if Liverpool still wanted Kostic, they could get him cheap. The reason why? His performances have not lived up to his ability since the Hamburg move. Now, the Bundesliga side look doomed to relegation. The result will be a firesale in the summer, as HSV look to meet financial demands. Kostic, being one of the most valuable players and highest-earners at the club, will be available.

Based on his form for Hamburg, Liverpool would be unlikely to take an interest in the player.

But, rather than dodging a bullet, perhaps this situation could work out perfectly for Klopp and Liverpool.

Whilst Kostic has had a rough time at Hamburg, a lot of that is down to the running of the club.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – MARCH 10: Jurgen Klopp of Liverpool looks on prior to the Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on March 10, 2018 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

For the Serbian national team the 25-year-old has still been in good form and Liverpool might just be able to bring Kostic in at a cut-price.

With the World Cup coming up this summer, Kostic will look to shine. A deal for Liverpool before then may prove to be a masterstroke.

Liverpool can look at Kostic in two ways. One, a transfer failure they should be happy with. Two, an opportunity for a bargain this summer.

Either way Klopp and Liverpool cannot really lose.

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