Liverpool are searching for midfield additions after a frustrating – and somewhat embarrassing week – in the transfer market.
Having agreed fees with both Brighton and Southampton for Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia respectively, the Reds have received rejection from both players with each having instead decided to sign for Chelsea.
Liverpool are now desperately searching for a defensive midfielder having allowed Fabinho and Jordan Henderson to move to The Saudi Pro League, the gaps in the club’s midfield on the opening weekend a clear indication that steel is required.
With just over two weeks remaining of the transfer window, Liverpool are on the lookout for reinforcements, but having shown their financial hand with big bids for Caicedo and Lavia now find themselves in a difficult position.
The midfielders Liverpool could target after Caicedo and Lavia snubs:
Joao Palhinha – Fulham
Joao Palhinha is understood to rank near the top of Liverpool’s wish-list before the deadline, with the Portugal international having been an unmissable presence at Fulham last season.
Palhinha led the Premier League for duels won (274) and tackles made (144) as Fulham secured a top-half finish on their return to the division, proving to be one of the best value deals of the campaign after his £20m arrival from Sporting Lisbon.
Fulham will demand at least triple that figure for Palhinha, perhaps more given the fees spent on positional peers such as Declan Rice and Moises Caicedo. Palhinha is a powerful presence and prolific ball-winner, each attributes lacking from the current make up of the Liverpool midfield.
Taking tackling to another level 🤝
— Premier League (@premierleague) June 27, 2023
West Ham are understood to have seen a £45m bid turned down earlier in the window and Liverpool will need to go higher to prise Palhinha from west London. While the Portuguese anchor appears an ideal addition at Anfield, it remains to be seen whether Liverpool’s owners will sanction a big-money deal, given Palhinha turned 28 in July and would have little resale value.
Manu Kone – Borussia Monchengladbach
Liverpool links to Manu Kone have cooled since reported interest early in the window, but it is a deal which could be revisited as the deadline approaches.
The 22-year-old has a growing reputation after two excellent seasons at Borussia Monchengladbach, where Kone has earned acclaim for his all-action defensive presence.
Last season Kone ranked in the top 10 players in the Bundesliga for tackles (9th), progressive passes (10th), passes into the final third (10th) and successful take-ons (8th), form which has seen the midfielder rise to the fringes of the France set-up.
Understand Manu Koné is finally back after injury. He’s running, starting to train and back in ‘Gladbach squad in the next days 🇫🇷
Liverpool, PSG and Juventus have previously explored Koné deal – one to watch in the final weeks of the window. pic.twitter.com/Ue6uaKGGQS
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 15, 2023
An occasionally over-zealous approach has seen Kone collect 22 yellow cards across the last two Bundesliga campaigns, but he has a mix of tenacity off the ball and confidence to carry that could suit Klopp’s ‘reloaded’ Liverpool midfield.
Rumoured to be available for a fee of around £30-£35m, his numbers indicate a potential bargain in comparison to some of the fees spent this summer.
Kalvin Phillips – Manchester City
Kalvin Phillips’ first season at Manchester City was a disappointment and the midfielder faces a challenge to break into Pep Guardiola’s plans. The 27-year-old started just twice in the Premier League after his £45m move to the Etihad from Leeds, with the presence of Rodri and fitness issues plaguing his time at the club to date.
Liverpool have been named as long-term admirers of the England international and could launch a move, with City having reinforced their midfield with the arrival of Mateo Kovacic from Chelsea.
Phillips could help solve two issues as Liverpool look to strengthen at the base of midfield and increase their homegrown contingent, following the exits of Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Gareth Southgate remains a firm admirer of Phillips, but the midfielder must secure regular minutes to retain his place in the England squad. A move to Liverpool could secure a more prominent role, but whether City would sanction his sale to a direct rival remains to be seen.
Ibrahim Sangare – PSV Eindhoven
Ibrahim Sangare has been on the radar of Premier League clubs for some time with the Ivorian having impressed across three seasons at PSV Eindhoven.
Sangare is a mix of physical presence, power and technical ability, while a reported release clause of around £32m adds to the 25-year-old’s appeal. Signings from the Eredivisie often come with risk, but Liverpool have proven with the addition of Cody Gakpo – a former team-mate of Sangare’s at PSV – that value can be found.
170 KM/H 🤯🤯🤯
Wait for Ruud’s reaction 🙈 pic.twitter.com/hFceiGWIZL
— PSV (@PSV) March 3, 2023
Sangare – who has also been linked with Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain – is capable of operating as a lone holding player or further forward as part of Klopp’s preferred midfield trio.
His defensive numbers shone during the 2021/22 campaign in an anchor role, as the Ivory Coast international ranked in the Eredivisie’s top five players for tackles won, interceptions, aerial duels and passes into the final third.
Cheick Doucouré – Crystal Palace
Cheick Doucouré is thought to be on the radar of the Reds recruitment team after an impressive first season in the Premier League at Crystal Palace.
Signed from Lens in a £21m move, Doucoure was an ever-present in the Eagles’ engine room to win Crystal Palace’s Player of the Season award.
Only Declan Rice – who signed for Arsenal in a £105m deal this summer – made more interceptions in the Premier League than the 23-year-old last season, with Doucoure level with former Liverpool target Moises Caicedo (56).
Just over three minutes of Cheick Doucouré?
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) September 6, 2022
He ranked in the 88th percentile of midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues for combined tackles and interceptions, though Palace will be reluctant to lose the Mali midfielder after just one season. The Eagles are close to losing Michael Olise to Chelsea and have already seen Wilfried Zaha depart this summer, a loss of leading assets which will increase their desire to keep hold of Doucoure.