By Matt Ramirez – @Matt_J_Ramirez
We’re five editions into this eight-part series and the January transfer window is firmly under way.
At the time of writing, Liverpool are without a win in 2019 (having been knocked of the FA Cup courtesy of Wolverhampton) and more importantly, see themselves looking barebones at the back, after Dejan Lovren joined Joel Matip and Joe Gomez on the physio’s treatment table.
The flurry of injuries sees Virgil van Dijk remain as the only fit senior CB at the club. This has caused journalists up and down the country to speculate that Jürgen Klopp will dive into the transfer market in aid of some back-up.
In terms of outgoings, this week marks the first time that more players have been linked out the door rather than in, as Liverpool’s talented young stars begin to attract attention.
Kalidou Koulibaly – Napoli – We start with the most unlikely of them all. Koulibaly is to Napoli what Virgil van Dijk is to us, a powerhouse, physical, dominating centre back that guards his goal like a lioness defends her kill.
The Senegalese’s performances in the last couple of seasons have seen him garner much attention across Europe. Koulibaly has helped Napoli form one of Europe’s most formidable defences, with the club conceding only 17 goals in the seasons league campaign – 22 across all competitions.
Koulibaly has only recently been linked with LFC, however, the constant rumours of his departure to Real Madrid, Manchester United or Chelsea, feel like they’ve been constant throughout the season.
Many journalists as well as football experts believe that the CB’s time at Napoli is coming to an end. With this being said, it is near impossible that the Naples based side will allow their star defender to leave in January, regardless of whether their £90million valuation is met.
January is a difficult period to sign anyone, let alone a player of Koulibaly’s standard. Should the defender depart, then it would be near impossible for Carlo Ancelotti to find a suitable replacement that will match him in quality.
Add to the fact that Napoli currently sit in second of the Serie A and have both Europa League and Coppa Italia campaigns ahead of them, and it begins to look less likely that the CB will be allowed to leave – as silverware looks very much a possibility come the seasons end.
In my point of view, the defender won’t be joining anyone in this window. Regarding the possibility of signing him in the Summer, I wouldn’t hold out much hope – The link between Koulibaly and ourselves seem very desperate and with no real substance. Don’t get excited about this one.
Kostas Manolas – Roma – Apparently, we haven’t got enough taking Mohamed Salah and Alisson, but now we want their star CB too – they really are the new Southampton.
Much like Koulibaly, this rumour feels very much like a link in passing – The defender is being touted for a move away from the Italian capital, Liverpool need a CB, put them together and boom. Rumour.
Regardless, this one has more chance of happening than Koulibaly – solely because of the price tag. It’s a slim chance, but a chance nonetheless.
Manolas has been at Roma since 2014, and for those of you who haven’t heard of him before, he’s the big Greek lad that knocked out Barcelona from last season’s Champions League – Big Kostas with that Herculean head of his.
Basically, at the moment he’s being linked to Manchester United who are also in need of defensive reinforcements. He currently has a release clause of £30.5 million, which although isn’t cheap, is far from the £90 million of Koulibaly.
Taking into consideration his abilities as a defender and then you quickly see that in theory, he would be worth that expenditure. He’s tall, strong, quick and loves a tackle. In his time at Rome he’s averaged around 5.37 clearances and 1.1 blocks per game, whilst only giving away 1.05 fouls per 90 minutes.
In simple terms – He’s good. For the apparent transfer fee, I would definitely would him to sign for the Reds, and if we can snatch him from United it makes it that much sweeter.
James Tarkowski – Burnley – Now to touch on this week’s “strange” rumour, linking us with Turf Moor’s star CB.
This rumour has pretty much come out of nowhere and seems to have caught everyone off guard – including Burnley manager Sean Dyche, who labelled the reports as “strange”.
Tarkowski has risen through the ranks of football in the last few years, nailing down a Premier League spot and earning a few call ups for the England National team.
The English defender isn’t of the quality of the previous two defenders that have been linked. With this being said, many believe that the 26-year-old will still be an improvement of Dejan Lovren and would provide a good option as cover in that position for Klopp.
If reports are to be believed, Burnley are asking for a fee in the region of £50 million, and it is at this point where the rumour dies. In my opinion, there is no way that Klopp will pay that figure for a man who will essential be just a squad player.
Although Tarkowski is good, it is the popular opinion that Joe Gomez is better, therefore it’s hard to imagine such a fee being paid for a player who will essential eat bench for the rest of the season as soon as Gomez is available once again.
Divock Origi – West Ham – We’ve been here before. We’ve talked about Origi. This one is getting tiring to write about. This week however, he’s linked to a new side. Not that it changes my opinion to be honest.
Look. We just sold Solanke, meaning that our reserve front men are now Divock and Studge – who is notorious for picking up injuries (but to be fair to the lad he’s remained fit this season).
We’re fighting for the Premier League and the Champions League, and Origi has already proved this season that he can make an impact off the bench when we need him to. I don’t think Klopp will allow him to leave in this window.
Now, if we sign another striker, then possibly, yes, he could leave. But as things stand right now, no. Not a chance. Klopp keeps signing his praises and he’s picking up more and more minutes. Origi still has a part to play for Liverpool this season.
Rafa Camacho – Sporting Lisbon – From one dead end transfer to another. Camacho’s loan move to Sporting seems off the cards.
At this time last week all seemed tied up and sorted for the young Portuguese star. He was all set to leave on a loan deal to get some minutes in Portugal’s first division. Well, a Nathaniel Clyne departure later and things seem to have changed regarding Camacho.
If reports are to be believed, everything was set to go through, and in literally the last minute, Klopp himself pulled the plug and stopped the move happening.
Again, if reports are to be believed, apparently the German wants Camacho to have more of a role with the first team after Clyney’s departure, so more minutes can be expected for the midfielder turned wing-back.
Ryan Kent – Rangers – I know what you’re all saying. “MATT!!!!! He’s already there”. I know, but he’s there on loan. Reports coming out of Glasgow right now though, suggest that the club are hoping to make the deal permanent within the next few weeks.
Kent has been at Anfield since 2003, graduating from the academy in 2015, and spending every season out on loan since. In previous seasons, his loans have been somewhat less than impressive, however, this season he has become a vital cog in Stevie G’s Rangers machine.
From the players point of view this would make sense. Kent has spent his loan spells working hard in an attempt to impress his way into the Liverpool first team. Unfortunately for him, Harry Wilson has absolutely exploded this season, which therefore leaves Kent with another man in his way.
Regarding his club, Rangers have already signed Jermain Defoe and Steven Davies this window – leading to many commending their transfer business. The permanent signing of Kent would only increase the plaudits they are receiving and would set the up nicely next season, as Gerrard would no doubt look to build his squad around the tricky youngster.
Ben Woodburn – Everyone under the sun – Remember him, lad that came on against Leeds and scored on his league cup debut, loads of hype. Got a call up for Wales, scored on his debut for them. Small guy, about 5ft 9 (my height too btw) loads of potential, kind of fell off the face of the Earth this season… ah good you remember him.
Well he’s still good and still full of potential. He got sent out on loan to Sheffield United this season in search of some first team minutes. Unfortunately for the Welsh starlet, it didn’t go as well for him as he would have hoped and now finds himself back at Melwood – but oddly enough Liverpool have chosen not to announce it (not quite sure what that means either).
Confusion seems to be surrounding his fate at the moment, with some people thinking it best he remains with the U23’s for the rest of the season to get his confidence back. And others thinking it best to send the youngster on loan again.
I for one, reckon giving him another attempt at a loan may be better for his development – Just look at Harry Wilson – all he needs is the right club.
Fortunately for Woodburn he seems to have the pick of the bunch with many Championship sides interested in taking him on for the final months of the season. Blackburn Rovers, Brentford and Hull have apparently all made contact with Liverpool, but would it be wise for the Reds to wait for a better offer.
Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United are currently going through an injury crisis of their own, losing both Lewis Baker and Samuel Saiz. Due to this, it is believed that the Championship table toppers will be in the market for a creative midfielder – *cough cough* step forward Ben.
It still remains to be seen whether or not Leeds are interested, and with that being said it’s still unclear as to what Liverpool’s plan for the youngster is. What does appear certain though is that should they choose to loan him back out, he will have a host of clubs to choose from.
N/A – as things stand