Wednesday, November 25, 2020
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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Liverpool could profit from Champions League failure and allow Michael Edwards to work magic again

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The upcoming transfer window will be an intriguing one for Liverpool. The Reds have been consistent in only spending when they believe there is value in the market, and refusing to be held to ransom on targets, and this could benefit them in ways they didn’t envisage.

Uncertainty around European football could make certain players more affordable than they were last summer, especially those who look like missing out on Champions League football next term, and it would give Michael Edwards opportunity to work some more of his magic as the club’s sporting director.

While the big European leagues are at various stages of completion amid March’s shutdown, the Bundesliga has a roadmap for completing the season, having resumed over the weekend.

This means five teams battling it out for four Champions League spots, and – with eight games remaining – Bayer Leverkusen are currently the odd one out.

Links between Kai Havertz and Liverpool are nothing new, with the Reds understood to be put off by the high asking price for the youngster, but if his Leverkusen side end up missing out on Champions League football and the additional money that brings, it could present a chance to test the German club’s resolve.

Further down the table, Schalke are out of the top four picture and a 4-0 reverse at Borussia Dortmund leaves them facing an uphill battle for European football of any kind in 2020/21.

Despite David Wagner’s side blowing hot and cold, Amine Harit remains the kind of midfield talent who would improve plenty of European sides. Including Liverpool, as it happens, with reports in Italy linking Klopp’s side to the midfielder towards the end of 2019.

The 22-year-old has six goals and four assists to his name this season, while his 44 key passes (per WhoScored) put him just below Havertz’s 51.

If Liverpool want to look further forward, targeting someone with the ability to play all across the front-line, there’s an option available to them beyond Germany.

Liverpool have distanced themselves from links with former Manchester United forward Memphis Depay in the past, but with Lyon missing out on Champions League football next season, could it be time to revisit the possibility?

The Dutchman had scored 14 goals in 18 league and Champions League games before injury ended his 2019/20 season. He has hit double-figures for goals and assists in his last two full campaigns, and is showing himself to be the kind of all-round attacker Liverpool tend to like.

If the Reds decide against some of the more expensive players on their radar, an affordable swoop for a player with plenty of Champions League experience – not to mention familiarity with the club’s Dutch contingent – shouldn’t be ruled out entirely.

If midfield remains the priority, though, Serie A offers Liverpool some options at clubs who mass miss out on European football.

Roma’s Lorenzo Pellegrini is one of a number of Italians mentioned in connection with Everton since Carlo Ancelotti’s appointment, but the 23-year-old is a man the Reds might also want to consider with Roma at risk of being pipped by Atalanta to fourth spot.

The midfielder has a career-high eight assists in the league this season – only former Liverpool man Luis Alberto has more – and could provide Klopp’s side with an additional creative spark at home and in Europe.

Elsewhere in Italy, Fabian Ruiz of Napoli could become an option as Liverpool contend with the potential departures of Adam Lallana and Xherdan Shaqiri.

The 24-year-old has a pass completion percentage north of 90% this season – Juventus man Adrien Rabiot is the only central midfielder who can boast better, according to WhoScored – and has impressed despite Napoli sitting nine points adrift of the Champions League places.

Finally, we can’t help but acknowledge the situation in La Liga, where Atletico Madrid – despite eliminating Liverpool from the Champions League – sit down in sixth place.

While a move for midfield star and confirmed big-game player Saul Niguez feels like a long-shot, even if Diego Simeone’s side end up outside the top four, it can’t hurt to get a feel for the uncertainty around top-level football and test the water… right?

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