Unless RB Leipzig have a serious change of heart, then it looks as though Liverpool’s bid to sign Naby Keita is doomed to failure.
The Premier League side have already seen two bids, of £57m and £66m respectively, rejected by the German outfit, and while there are reports that Liverpool may return with a third (and final) bid of over £70m to land the Guinean international, there is no guarantee that even that will be enough to bring him to the Premier League.
Jurgen Klopp is adamant that Keita is the man he wants in Liverpool’s midfield for next season, but at some stage he will have to look elsewhere if Leipzig remain steadfast in their determination to keep the 22-year-old at the Red Bull Arena.
Should that happen, there are still a number of possible alternatives for Klopp and Liverpool to consider signing this summer, not least because the departures of Lucas Leiva and Kevin Stewart thin out the midfield options that bit more.
Leon Goretzka (Schalke)
In the immediate aftermath of Liverpool’s second Keita bid being rejected, German media were quick to link Goretzka with a move to Anfield as an alternative. The 22-year-old German international shares much of the same characteristics as Keita, insofar as his box-to-box style is similar in many ways. He would also presumably be far cheaper than Keita and would be an easier transfer to negotiate.
However, any (reported) interest is still complicated, particularly Arsenal are also rumoured to be interested – as are Bayern Munich, but the arrivals of Sebastian Rudy and Corentin Tolisso may have tempered their interest.
Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain)
The French international was linked with a move to Manchester United last summer, and while he hasn’t quite become the midfield powerhouse that his career trajectory seemed to be heading towards five years ago, he still possesses a midfield skillset and work ethic that would be invaluable in a team like Liverpool.
A couple of major drawbacks would be PSG’s desire to keep hold of him, plus agent Mino Raiola allegedly in his ear advising him to push for a move to Juventus.
Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid)
Kovacic has endured something of a frustrating spell at the Bernabeu since he arrived from Inter Milan in 2015. That said, things seemed to be improving for the 23-year-old towards the end of last season as he was starting more games for Zinedine Zidane’s side.
However, this being Real Madrid the chance of competition being signed is always high, and the recent €17m arrival of Dani Cebellos from Real Betis is added to an already busy midfield that contains Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Casemiro and Marcos Llorente. Zidane may still want to keep him, but he may be hard to keep a hold of if he decides he wants to leave.
Jean Michael Seri (Nice)
Seri was heavily linked with a move to Roma earlier in the summer, but a move to Serie A seemed to fall through last month. The 26-year-old Ivory Coast international was a major factor in Nice’s march to securing a Champions League place last season.
Like Keita, Seri is adept to playing in either in many positions in the centre of midfield, and his rise to prominence as a playmaker has seen interest garnered from the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham.
Marko Grujic (Liverpool)
Hopes are high for Grujic to make a big impact at Liverpool, to the point where he can command a role in the starting eleven in the not-too-distant future. Serious injury has disrupted his spell at Anfield so far (particularly as Klopp want last season to be a settling-in period for the Serbian international) but his increased exposure to the first-team this year will still stand him in good stead.
The 21-year-old would have to have a commanding pre-season campaign to be taken seriously at this time (and the likelihood is that he is not at all ready for such responsibility), but promoting from within would certainly suit Klopp’s preferred ethos.
On this week’s episode of the Mixer Irish Football Podcast we discussed the latest rounds of domestic and European fixtures, and were joined on the line by Galway United captain Colm Horgan.