For all intents and purposes, it doesn’t look like Liverpool will be signing a striker this summer.
Despite doubts surrounding Roberto Firmino’s natural ability as a number nine, Daniel Sturridge’s Anfield future, Danny Ings’ fitness and Divock Origi’s youthful inconsistency, Jurgen Klopp seems to be happy with his lot going into the new campaign.
Kylian Mbappe has been linked, but that has all the hallmarks of an opportunistic deal if one comes up rather than a perceived void in the Liverpool strikeforce.
Realistically, however, is that something of a folly from the Liverpool manager? With many of the Reds’ rivals boasting at least one top-quality goalscorer, should Klopp follow suit and invest in a guaranteed 20-goal-a-season focal point to lead the line in both the domestic and European campaigns.
If he does change his mind, although top-level strikers are rare and a premium this summer, there are definite options for him ut there.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund)
Crucially, Aubameyang is a player who is available and has a fixed (and realistic) price on his head, not to mention the fact that he has worked with Klopp before. €70m for a world-class striker is not the fanciful notion it once was, and the market being the way it is then this can actually be considered a decent price. 56 goals in his last 63 Bundesliga games is a fantastic record and most European sides would be lucky to have him.
Unfortunately, some reports have suggested that Klopp and Auba had something of a falling out at Dortmund, and the manager is a stickler for attitude (as we have seen with Mamadou Sakho and abruptly dropping his interest in Mario Gotze). Plus it looks as though the player is off to China, so that’s not ideal either.
Timo Werner (RB Leipzig)
Staying in the Bundesliga and to one of the league’s next big things in Timo Werner. The 21-year-old’s reputation has skyrocketed in the last twelve months, culminating in his senior debut earlier this year. Werner scored 21 goals in 31 games last season and given his pace and proficiency on the counter, would suit Klopp’s style of play perfectly.
That said, a deal would be incredibly tricky to pull off. As Liverpool are finding out in their Naby Keita pursuit, RB Leipzig are quite capable of digging their heels in when it comes to keeping their stars, and with Champions League football on the horizon it would take an astronomical offer to prise him from the German club.
Moussa Dembele (Celtic)
The subject of extremely strong interest from Chelsea in January, Dembele has been on fire for the past two seasons north and south of the border. A move from Fulham to Celtic last summer (after previous links with Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham) has seen the 20-year-old flourish even further, and the £30m or so that it would take to prise him away from former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers might end up being something of a bargain if the French under-21 international can continue on his upward trajectory.
A quick, creative forward with an eye for goal – Dembele will not be at Celtic Park in the medium to long term.
Inaki Williams (Athletic Bilbao)
Williams has been linked with Liverpool for some time now, though like Firmino there would be the issue of his capability of leading the line. He has done so for Athletic in the past but seems more adept at playing on the right, and his goal return is not particularly promising. He is, however, strong and quick, two traits that Klopp likes in his forwards.
With Arsenal and Manchester City also linked at one time or another and Athletic feeling the need to time the 23-year-old down with a €50m release clause they are certainly wary of losing him.
Kylian Mbappe (Monaco)
Let’s just pretend for a second that there’s the slightest chance of this happening. Mbappe is a man in demand this summer but the clubs with the strongest interest at this time appear to be Liverpool, Arsenal and Real Madrid. The Monaco forward is the next big thing in football, and the fact that he would command a world record fee even at that age, and that there are clubs willing to pay it, speaks volumes about how highly-rated he is.
If he’s going anywhere it’ll be more than likely to Real Madrid, but if a manager who hates overspending as much as Klopp does is willing to oversee that kind of outlay, it shows just how well he would fit into Liverpool’s team.