By Matt Ramirez – @Matt_J_Ramirez
Time to get the sieve and shovel out, brace yourselves!
We’re now into the second week of my rumour roundup which looks at players linked to/away from Anfield. I, like many of you who read the report last week, would assume that the ‘story’ linking big Virgil to the Camp Nou or the Bernabeu would be as bad as it got in the rumour department…
Well no, there is a proper gem coming up for you today involving an exit to the unlikeliest of destinations – oh, and I’ve inserted little jabs at United wherever possible.
So, without further ado lets dive in!
Frenkie De Jong – Ajax – The rumour mill has been churning away as of late, linking Ajax starlet Frenkie De Jong to a move away from the Johan Cruyff Arena. Manchester City and Barcelona were thought to be the front runners for the majority of the season, however, in recent days both Liverpool and Tottenham have emerged as surprise suitors chasing the young Dutch internationals signature.
De Jong’s name first started making waves around the Eredivisie last season, where he began to break into the Ajax first team, racking up seven assists in 22 league appearances. This season, the 21-year-old has continued his progress and has now made 25 appearances for the Amsterdam based club, scoring three and assisting one.
Ajax have valued De Jong at £75million, and although the price tag is steep considering his attacking statistics, there are other factors of his game that could prove him to be worth the quoted price.
The Dutchman is still very young with much room for improvement, he is very much being touted as a player that will grow into a star in future years, however, it isn’t his potential alone that makes him worth the price, but his versatility.
Since taking over the helm at Anfield, Jürgen Klopp has made two things abundantly clear, he loves his hard-working players and versatile players – James Milner is a prime example, and De Jong is a player in a similar mould.
Although he is yet to play at left or right back, De Jong has shown his versatility in midfield, playing both in advanced midfield, and in the holding role. His ability to adapt depending on the needs of the team has impressed particularly at international level, where he has made his debut this season, playing in the defensive role like a seasoned professional.
His performances against Germany in particular come to mind, where he racked up a pass completion rate of 94.4% (67 out of 71) and made vital blocks to ensure his side stayed in the game.
With this being said, I believe this transfer isn’t as likely as many will hope. Much like Ousmane Dembélé, the fee he would command seems to be too astronomical for the role in which he would undoubtedly play in the current Liverpool squad – With Wijnaldum and Fabinho impressing more and more each week, it’s unlikely that the kid would start.
Nevertheless, it has been a trend of his managerial reign at Anfield, that if Klopp wants a player then no fee will stop him from getting his man. It’s only this week that the young Dutch starlet has been linked, so its certainly one to watch, but don’t hold your breath yet Kopites, there’s certainly more concrete possibilities to get excited about for now.
Christian Pulisic – Borussia Dortmund – Speaking of more concrete rumours to get excited about, this is the one making the headlines. Yes, I know we touched on him last week, but things have developed in the last week, and quite dramatically if you don’t mind me saying.
We don’t need to go into the stats because nothing has changed since last week regarding his talents. He’s a quality winger, has world-class potential and would be a fine addition to the squad. What has changed however is BVB’s stance, with the Bundesliga leaders apparently telling the American international it’s time for him to find pastures new.
Pulisic’s stand-off with the Dortmund hierarchy has received heavy coverage, with the young star appearing hesitant to extend his current deal beyond 2020. Well, The Black and Yellows are now done with negotiations, and with his price tag dropping as his contract winds down, the Germans now seem to be looking to cash in on their academy graduate.
Further reports in Spain suggest that Pulisic is no longer a Dortmund player, with Cadena SER (Spain’s most listened to radio station) claiming that Atletico Madrid have had a recent approach rebuffed, with sporting director Michel Zorc apparently claiming that the player was “already sold to an English club”.
I can sense your excitement building, but let’s relax for just one minute. We weren’t the only side linked with Pulisic, and no official statement has been released confirming any such sale to any specific club.
However, given all the speculation surrounding the star, and his apparent preference for Klopp and Anfield, we may be able to allow ourselves to get a teenie-weenie bit excited about the fact that maybe Klopp has got his man yet again.
Just to reiterate, there is no confirmation surrounding the transfer, I don’t want all of you jumping on my back if this report turns out to be false. It is the season of random crap being made up so this could yet again be another one of those, but, if it’s not then, “BOOM”.
4/5 – It would be 5/5 but I don’t want to get hurt if it’s false reports
Pascal Gross – Brighton – Not going to lie, when this was initially reported I thought it stank of rumour mill bulls**t. It honestly felt like it was a slow day at the office and some random journalist decided to create this out of thin air just because Klopp praised the player last season. Funnily enough though, this is actually gathering some momentum which makes me think it might just have some weight to it.
I know that the name Pascal Gross hardly ignites excitement, but one thing should stick out in all Liverpool fans’ mind, and it’s something I continuously find myself repeating, If Klopp wants him then let’s go out and get him.
I expect many people will be thinking ‘why we bargain hunting again’, but need I remind you that the rumours linking Andrew Robertson and Xherdan Shaqiri to Anfield were met with equal groans and look at them now – Robbo is widely regarded as the best LB in the Premier League, and Shaqiri has just made a super-sub appearance to sink United and is looking like the bargain of the transfer window.
The fee being touted for the German playmaker is £15million and if we look at the stats, we can see that he would very much be value for money. Despite only playing less than 600 Premier League minutes this season, Gross has an average of creating 2.3 chances a game per 90 – equal to Mohamed Salah, and surpassing Roberto Firmino, Xherdan Shaqiri and Sadio Mané.
Ultimately, everyone knows that if this was to come true, Gross would be used solely as a squad player, and in all honesty, £15million for a Premier League proven rotational midfielder is worth the risk. What’s the worst that could happen? The only thing up in the air at the moment is if there is genuine interest from Liverpool, or if this is an empty rumour that got out of control.
3.5/5 – Not enough concrete evidence of interest, but if true then it’s very possible
Phillipe Coutinho – Barcelona – You know when you read something, and you just laugh at the sheer audacity of it? Well, this was it for me.
The story goes that Coutinho is unhappy at Barca and that Ernesto Valverde is struggling to find a place for the ‘Samba Star’ in his side – weird that these rumours begin to circulate around the time that Coutinho heads back to Liverpool to celebrate Roberto Firmino’s wife’s birthday.
There is no doubt that Coutinho hasn’t hit the atmospheric heights many expected of him since joining the Catalan giants, but it’s unthinkable that Valverde will not give his record signing a bit more time to adapt and prove his apparent critics wrong.
To be fair to Phil I didn’t think he was doing that bad a job in La Liga, but you know how the old saying goes: “Partying with Firmino = Moving to Anfield”
I wonder if Roberto could tempt Messi to a little shin dig of sorts, wouldn’t mind him at Anfield. All joking aside, I’d love Phil back at Anfield, he has bags of talent and is yet to be replaced, but this rumour feels like the most fabricated bit of garbage I’ve read since Fernando Torres was linked with a return back in 2014.
Harry Wilson – Derby County (on loan) – I’m going to be honest guys, there hasn’t been much happening in terms of incoming rumours this week. Yes, I know he’s our player and technically we wouldn’t be signing him, but if he was to be recalled then he would join our current squad from another club, so it counts – it’s my article, I make the rules.
The Welsh winger has been making big waves in the Championship, bursting onto the scene under the tutelage of Frank Lampard, and becoming a key component of Derby’s fight for promotion. So far this season, Wilson has scored eight and assisted two in 19 games for the Rams – including a rather enjoyable free-kick goal against Manchester United.
His impressive campaign prompted a journalist to ask Klopp whether or not he would consider recalling the youngster, to which the gaffer responded to by stating it was a possibility. Klopp did go on to say that it is unlikely that he would recall the winger, and that it would take severe injuries to his front-line for him to do so, but journalists up and down the country have jumped on this, claiming it’s a matter of time before we see Wilson In a Red shirt once again.
The way the loan system works is that Club ‘A’ agrees to let Club ‘B’ borrow their player for a season or two to allow the player to get some game time under their belt. Usually in this agreement, Club ‘A’ inserts a clause which states that they can recall their player whenever they want – therefore, there really isn’t a story here, and the people who claim there is are just clutching at straws.
Loris Karius has just as much of a chance of getting recalled, it literally hinges on whether or not the players in certain positions can stay injury free for the remainder of the season. If Wilson was a CB however, then he probably would already be back.
0/5 – In the current situation
5/5 – If our front-line is plagued with season ending injuries at any point this campaign
Nathaniel Clyne – Cardiff – This rumour had some serious legs about it, so much so that Cardiff boss Neil Warnock came out and publicly stated that he was interested in Clyne. Unfortunately for Warnock it is now looking impossible that he will get his man, whereas a couple weeks ago it seemed a near certainty.
Two weeks ago, Clyne was out in the cold at Anfield and his Liverpool career looked pretty much over. Formerly a starter for both England and Liverpool, Clyne suffered a string of injuries which kept him out for the majority of last season which saw him lose his starting place to Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Along with Trent, Joe Gomez emerged as potential cover at right back for Klopp, and throughout this season, the two young stars have shared the role, with Clyne not getting a sniff at Premier League action.
Flashforward to now and the whole dynamic has shifted, with Clyne starting in the recent win over Manchester United and putting in a tremendous display considering how long he’s been out of the side.
His return to first-team action were due to the aforementioned Gomez and Arnold picking up injuries which now mean that Clyney, is Liverpool’s only fit senior right back. So basically, he’s going nowhere.
0/5 – There’s more chance of Klopp swapping Salah for Adnan Januzaj (remember him… and United fans have the cheek to call us delusional), than for him to sell his only right back
Lazar Markovic – Anywhere – The hype that surrounded this kid when he first joined was immense, and you have to sort of feel for the lad that his career has seriously plummeted in the last few years.
Above, I said that Clyne couldn’t get a sniff at Premier League action, well in comparison, there’s more chance of Manchester United winning the Premier League this season, than there is for this lad to play a senior game for Liverpool again.
Markovic came close to an Anfield exit in the Summer, however, an apparent move to Anderlecht fell through at the last minute and he now finds himself wallowing in the Under-23’s.
The Serbian is still only 24 years-of-age, and with his contract expiring in the Summer he will be available on a free transfer as of January. It is reported that a host of European teams are interested in taking a punt on the former wonderkid, with Genoa and Fiorentina leading the apparent chase for his signature.
It’s clear that Liverpool aren’t going to extend his stay with the club, and it’s unfortunate that things didn’t work out for him at Anfield. Whether or not the reports of these specific clubs come true is yet to be seen, however, there is no doubt that come next season, Lazar will officially be off of Liverpool’s wage books.
Divock Origi – Everton – Yes, this is it, this is the gem I alluded to in the intro. What a load of rubbish this is!
This in my opinion smacks of more desperation to get out a story than that van Dijk one last week. I mean the lad literally just came out of nowhere to score the winner against Everton, got praised by Klopp, made a return to the starting XI and then gets linked to our local rivals?
The fee that has been audaciously made up is £10million, and from an Everton view point it’s a bloody brilliant move if it’s true (it’s not though). But from a Liverpool perspective this makes no sense at all, especially not for a price-tag as low as that.
I’d be more inclined to believe it if the lad who wrote this had mentioned it being a loan move, but even then, last week I came out and said that it would be unlikely for Origi to leave on loan as he I think he has a major part to play in our rotational system this season.
This story was literally clickbait in its finest form, the author probably thought ‘what outrageous story can I come up with to get attention’, well, “BOOM”, he succeeded.