Liverpool MUST sign another forward to ease the transition from Salah, Mane, Firmino says club legend Carragher… Sarr and Raphinha have been tracked in the past, but could Klopp be tempted by Erling Haaland’s £64m summer release clause?
- Jamie Carragher feels his former club need to sign at least one forward star
- Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane rule the roost but are at their peaks
- Carragher says the addition of one quality personnel is needed soon
- Sportsmail looks at five stars Liverpool have their eyes on for a summer swoop
Liverpool may be blazing a trail this season when it comes to scoring goals and creating chances, but boss Jurgen Klopp isn’t naive enough to think it can last forever.
As the previous campaign highlighted, goals can dry up even across the most prolific of forward lines. And now, with the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane needed by their countries for the upcoming African Cup of Nations, the Reds know it is time to bring in the reinforcements.
Given the rigid transfer policy at Anfield, it remains unlikely that Klopp will be allowed to splurge on a striker in January, meaning a big summer move could – and should – be in the offing.
At least this is what club legend Jamie Carragher believes, who has been very vocal this week regarding the steps he feels his former club should be taking.
Jamie Carragher wants to see a fresh, top level forward in at Liverpool sometime soon with Jurgen Klopp (right) well aware he needs reinforcement for his prolific attacking trident
Speaking on the Sky Sports segment Off Script, Carragher said of Liverpool’s prolific attacking line: ‘These players are all getting to 30, and you don’t want the entire team to age at the same time.
‘At some stage, the front three and other areas of the team will need breaking up.
‘You don’t necessarily break it up [instantly], because it’s started so fantastically well this season, and though Jota has made a big impact, I’d like to see one more.’
Given the club’s remarkably impressive record in the transfer department over the past few years, it seems only natural that the Reds’ data gurus will be all over the situation and will be honing in on the next target, who Carragher feels they so badly need.
But who could that player be? Who fits the bill in terms of style, quality and availability? Sportsmail takes a closer look…
Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino are on fire once again but still need competition
Jeremy Doku – Rennes
Doku may only be 19 but he is one of the most talked-up players in Belgian football, often cropping up in conversations regarding the most exciting starlets on the continent.
Doku’s connection with Liverpool goes some way back – given that he has actually already turned down Anfield advances before.
When he was 16 Doku and family were invited over to Merseyside, as Liverpool rolled out the red carpet. The skilful, pacey forward was shown around the facilities with his parents David and Belinda.
The charm offensive however did not achieve its objective. Doku opted to return back to Anderlecht and continue his development, where he found himself watched on a weekly basis by a plethora of scouts arriving from across the globe.
Jeremy Doku is one of the most exciting prospects in all of Belgian football right now
Last year French outfit Rennes swooped in to sign Doku under the radar, making him their record buy in a deal which is believed to have suited Anderlecht perfectly.
The Belgian giants, who had been suffering from financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, accepted a €26million (£22m) bid which is understood to include a series of bonuses and a healthy sell-on clause.
So far this season the youngster has found himself on the comeback trail from injury, and is yet to find the back of the net in four matches played.
Nonetheless, his versatility and raw potential very much appeals to the Anfield hierarchy.
Former Rennes manager Julien Stephane summed up the teenager nicely. Speaking in a press conference prior to his departure, he said: ‘I was immediately charmed by his positive attitude. He is very eager to learn. He listens to a manager.
‘He adapted very well. That’s why I kept playing him. He only struggled for a while because he couldn’t score.’
Jonathan David – Lille
Canadian star David is a powerful attacker who Liverpool have been observing with a great deal of curiosity for some time.
Like Doku, he plies his trade in French football, for one of the many sides battling to somehow reel in the titans of Paris Saint-Germain.
David, now 21, was plucked by Lille from Gent in August 2020 and became the most expensive Canadian player of all time in the process, with hands being shaken on a £27m deal.
The result? Lille were instantly rewarded by a sublime debut season from David, who took to Ligue 1 like a duck to a water and helped his side achieve the impossible; beating PSG to the title.
Last season David provided 13 goals and five assists across 48 matches in all competitions. This season he has nine goals in 18.
Lille ace Jonathan David has been on the radar of the Liverpool transfer gurus for a while now
The trajectory of the youngster is very much on an upwards curve and, while Lille would want a healthy return on their investment, it is understood the French club would be willing to sell for the right price.
What’s more, when it comes to transfer dealings Lille are very shrewd indeed. The team from the French-Flanders area are very calculated and know how to get a good deal, while also making it work for all parties involved.
In August 2019 Lille managed to strike a huge £72m agreement with Arsenal for Nicholas Pepe, arranged in a vast array of small instalments following a manageable down payment.
Liverpool completed a similar financial agreement last summer when bringing in Jota from Wolves at £45m, meaning the scope to structure a similar deal for David is not out of the realms of possibility.
The situation is of course a developing one and Klopp’s men are most certainly not the only people keeping a mindful eye on him. A big European switch appears to be only a matter of time.
Raphinha – Leeds
Talk has been rapidly growing regarding Liverpool’s rumoured interest in the Brazilian, and it doesn’t look like going away any time soon.
It doesn’t take a distinguished football analyst to observe that Raphinha has everything that Liverpool look for in a forward player. Pace, work-rate, fitness, composure, versatility – the list goes on.
The 24-year-old hit 10 goals in his first 38 games in the Premier League, and was rapidly drafted into the senior Brazil national side as a result.
There, he has been playing alongside Liverpool stars Firmino, Fabinho and goalkeeper Alisson.
Raphinha’s agent, former Barcelona and Chelsea star Deco, has claimed that the Reds did indeed make an enquiry about his client.
‘There are certainly many clubs interested in him,’ Deco told Brazilian publication Globo.
Raphinha is flying at Leeds but it has become clear he will soon be looking for a step up
‘Liverpool do like him and there were some approaches, but nothing official. Leeds wanted to keep him for another season.’
Deco did however go on to add a bit of teasing mystery to the saga, by noting: ‘Raphinha is happy at Leeds, but there will certainly come a time when he wants to take a step up in his career and move forward.
‘He has three years left on his contract, but there’s nothing in it that states how long he must stay for or that prevents transfers.’
Leeds stumped up just under £17m to sign the Brazilian from Rennes, and would likely demand a hearty profit on top for any potential deal.
Liverpool – and fellow rivals – will undoubtedly be monitoring the club’s situation this season however.
The Yorkshire outfit sit 15th in the table and are struggling for consistency so far during the current campaign. Though relegation isn’t being considered under a manager with the pedigree of Marcelo Bielsa, anything is possible in elite level English football.
A drop down to the Championship would of course alter the situation. Dramatically.
Ismaila Sarr – Watford
If anyone is a perfect example of how lower league clubs can keep hold of their stars however, it is Watford and Ismaila Sarr.
The Senegal star was primed for a move to Anfield last summer after the Reds got in touch with and made their interest crystal clear.
A switch to Merseyside would have seen Sarr reunited with his international team-mate and close friend Mane – yet Watford quickly poured cold water over any move.
The Hornets laid out very lofty terms, telling Liverpool they would only entertain a bid if a certain figure was met and it was paid up front, to the exact penny.
Liverpool previously contacted Watford about Ismaila Sarr before they signed Diogo Jota
Such a coup wasn’t possible for Liverpool after the Covid-induced tightening of the purse strings, and so a much more convenient deal with Wolves was agreed for the transfer of Jota,
Nonetheless, interest in Sarr has remained and Liverpool have not abandoned the idea of one day having him in a red shirt.
Rivals Manchester United were also heavily linked, until they finally managed to successfully complete a two-year pursuit of Jadon Sancho… who now occupies a warm spot on the substitute’s bench.
Sarr has three-years remaining on his deal at Vicarage Road, meaning the club very much hold the power when it comes to determining his future. The Hornets also forked out in the region of £30m to make him their most costly ever purchase, so letting him go on the cheap will never be considered a possibility.
As with Leeds, relegation this season would likely alter the thought-processes.
While Watford managed to hold on to Sarr last time around in the Championship, it is unlikely the 23-year-old will be willing to go through the same process again.
Expect Liverpool to remain very vigilant on the situation, and enter negotiations once more in the coming months.
Sarr is friends with Senegal team-mate Mane and would relish a chance to play alongside him
Erling Haaland – Borussia Dortmund
Okay, so this one is speculative but it would be complete nonsense to say Liverpool will not post an interest in Erling Haaland this summer.
The Norwegian – though he is out injured until the new year with a hip issue – is unarguably one of the most talented and prolific strikers in the world.
His goal-scoring statistics beggar belief and it’s hard to often remember than he is still only 21 – not turning 22 until next June!
It goes without saying that Haaland will be the most in-demand player on the planet at the end of the season, simply because of his soon-to-be-active release clause, meaning he can leave the Signal Iduna Park for £64m.
Such a figure for a player of this standing is peanuts in the modern game, and all of Europe’s elite sides are well aware of this.
While Liverpool have always lagged behind rivals Manchester City, United and Chelsea in terms of spending power, they have shown in the past that when funds are made available, they will spend big.
Erling Haaland will be the world’s most wanted in summer with a humble £64m release clause
A eye-watering £75m was set aside to make Virgil van Dijk the world’s most expensive defender in January 2019, while months later Liverpool sent £65m over to the Italian capital to acquire Alisson from Roma.
It’s safe to say both players have been absolute game-changers. The Reds have gone on to become European and English champions since.
Haaland naturally falls into the same bracket as one of the players who simply must be bought, if possible. The prospect of him playing under the coaching of Klopp – who helped craft Robert Lewandowski into one of the best strikers in the game – is mouth watering.
The main obstacle that would stand in the way of the Reds when it comes to a prospective swoop for Haaland however is his agent; the notorious Mino Raiola and the vast baggage he brings.
Raiola has most of football’s biggest names in his stable of clientele, and for good reason.
Superstars trust Raiola because he drives a fiercely hard bargain, and squeezes the best possible deal for his players – completely on his own terms.
Reports claimed the superagent pocketed around £30m for himself when overseeing Paul Pogba’s world record return to Manchester United from Juventus. It’s the sort of stuff which will make the hierarchy at Anfield quiver.
Liverpool have however dealt with Raiola before. The Dutch-Italian oversaw proceedings for Mario Balotelli’s infamous late move to Anfield in August 2014. Everybody knows how that transfer worked out.
Klopp inherited Balotelli from the Brendan Rodgers regime and immediately told the striker he would be surplus to all requirements. This naturally did not go down well with Raiola.
Liverpool could likely afford Haaland’s release clause but Mino Raiola comes with added costs
Klopp sent Balotelli to train with the reserves while he found a new club, and Raiola would later publicly state that Liverpool’s German boss behaved like ‘a piece of s***’ regarding the handling of his man.
‘I’m not trying to judge him as a coach – although, for me, he’s not a good coach – but he didn’t understand that Balotelli is, whatever else, a person,’ Raiola complained.
‘Mario has been exemplary. He never complained about training alone. To say that it was wrong of Klopp would be an understatement; he was a piece of s*** about it.’
Liverpool fans will need to hope that that bridge has not been completely burned, if there is to be any hope of Haaland hitting home a screamer at the Kop end any time soon.
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