If John W. Henry wasn’t aware that Liverpool were a little short in midfield before his trip to Anfield on Saturday – and if he looks at his social media how could he not be? – then Jurgen Klopp’s substitutions will have left him in no doubt.
With Thiago Alcantara, Naby Keita, Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all absent from the squad, Klopp brought on teenagers Stefan Bajcetic and Lee Clark, the son of former Newcastle midfielder Lee, in the second half.
They were deserved league debuts for the pair, and also ideal settings for them as the Reds thrashed the Cherries by a Premier League record-equalling nine goals to nil, but if he was honest with you Klopp would really rather that he didn’t have to use them in a league game at this tender stage of their careers.
The domestic cup competitions and maybe the odd Champions League group game are the usual settings for talents such as Bajcetic and Clark, but needs must at Liverpool right now as four midfield players joined six other absentees on Saturday.
The manager had finally conceded prior to the game that a new face was needed in his squad due to the injuries suffered, and while Thiago and Jones and scheduled to return soon there has been no precise comeback dates given for Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain, two players who must be running out of chances at Anfield in the final years of their deals.
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With Henry making a rare visit to Merseyside, one enterprising Liverpool supporter even took the chance to quiz him on whether or not the Reds would be signing a new midfielder this week, with his thumbs up response seen as an indication that they would be.
Well that is a little easier said than explained, and with Klopp at pains to point out that it has to be the right player who the club make a move for, there are still plenty of factors to take into consideration, including the very real possibility that they don’t sign anyone at all.
Here’s the latest news surrounding some possible additions though.
Jude Bellingham, Borussia Dortmund
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Still the dream addition for the Reds, it remains far, far more likely that Liverpool go for the England midfielder next summer rather than fork out what would be a huge fee this week.
There are many who see Bellingham’s 2023 switch to Anfield as as good as done barring any major hiccups, but that isn’t to say Dortmund will allow him to leave without a fight.
Speaking to Sky Sport Germany on Monday, the club’s sporting director Sebastian Kehl said: “There is no request and to be honest – I know that from the player and his family – the boy is not interested at all this summer to go somewhere.
“He will stay with us, I can guarantee that today. Of course he wants to take the next step at some point. My wish would be to keep the boys for a year or two longer.”
Frenkie de Jong, Barcelona
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The Dutchman set tongues wagging by touching down in London on Monday, although the suggestion is that this is for purely innocent reasons as Barcelona’s players have a few days off.
Having seen himself linked with Manchester United all summer, and also Chelsea albeit a bit less fiercely, De Jong appeared from the bench shortly after the hour mark of Barca’s 4-0 win over Valladolid on Sunday.
His contractual issue with the Nou Camp giants is well known, although all indications are that he will stay in Catalonia for now at least.
Ruben Neves, Wolves
As gifted a player as he is, there is something of a feeling of 2+2 about the links that emerged surrounding the Portuguese and Liverpool over the weekend.
Neves has freely admitted he expected to be leaving Wolves this summer after five years of stellar service, but is only now that he is seeing himself linked with Liverpool as the Reds search for a midfield signing.
“Well, let’s see what happens,” Neves told The Times at the weekend when questioned on his future.
“I try to focus 100 per cent on my football and I had a good start to the season but we need results now. If you ask me at the end of last season I would have said to you, ‘I will leave’ but I’m still here, so we never know what’s going to happen.”
Speaking after Wolves’ 1-1 draw with Newcastle on Sunday, in which Neves scored, Wolves boss Bruno Lage said : “I can confirm I’m 99 per cent sure Ruben Neves will stay at Wolverhampton this summer. He’s happy here and committed.”
Sander Berge, Sheffield United
When Sheffield United signed Berge from Genk in January 2020 it was seen as a huge coup for the Blades during an impressive return to the Premier League, but ultimately he was unable to prevent them from being relegated the following season.
The Norwegian had been linked with Liverpool and other top sides prior to moving to Bramall Lane, and now in his second season in the Championship there are suggestions that the 6ft 5ins midfielder could finally return to the top-flight.
Berge is believed to have a £35million clause in his Blades contract, but the club could be willing to allow him to leave for less than that as per the Sheffield Star.
The 24-year-old is a player that the Reds having monitored in the past and so will be liked by club staff, but it remains to be seen whether this is the right time to move for him.
Youri Tielemans, Leicester
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As with Neves, Leicester’s Tielemans is a player who would have thought that he might well have left his club by the final week of the transfer window.
The Belgian has just one year left on his contract though and so the situation is a little more urgent (Neves has two), and while it is Arsenal who have been linked with him most strongly over the course of the window, there are now suggestions that Liverpool could muscle in for a fee which is seemingly reducing by the week.
Is that something you could see Liverpool doing though?
The Reds will clearly have looked at the Belgian, because they can hardly miss him, but you’d think if they really wanted him they’d have already gone for him by now.
Moises Caicedo, Brighton
A newer name linked with the Reds in recent weeks, Brighton’s 20-year midfielder Caicedo is also believed to have been interesting Manchester United.
The Ecuadorian – who already has 23 senior international caps despite his tender age – has been key to Brighton’s fine start to the season, appearing in all four of their matches.
Manager Graham Potter outlined his importance to the club on Monday, saying: “He’s a top person, young and has all the attributes to play at the highest level. But we don’t want to lose him and we don’t think we will, but you never know. We’re calm and confident.”
Konrad Laimer, RB Leipzig
Of all the Liverpool midfield links, the ones with the 25-year-old Austria international Laimer would appear to make the most sense.
The Reds after all maintain a strong relationship with RB Leipzig, with Laimer believed to be available for around £25million as he heads into the final year of his contract.
Kicker in Germany have claimed that Liverpool are strongly looking at him as Bayern Munich have backed away, and while Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff has indicated that he wants Laimer to stay at the club, he didn’t sound too confident.
“I assume that Konny will stay. But the transfer window is still open and we’re still holding a few conversations,” he told Leipziger Volkszeitung, via the Liverpool Echo.
“The tendency is very, very large for him to stay with us.”