Liverpool is expected to be in the market for midfielders this summer as several established names look set to depart Anfield. Jürgen Klopp may spot a bargain.
With Liverpool looking to strengthen in midfield areas this summer, one experienced Serie A star may provide a cut-price solution for Jürgen Klopp.
It is expected that the Reds will go all out for top target Jude Bellingham in the coming months. However, with the club in need of a complete revamp as established midfield names James Milner, Naby Keïta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain look set to be leaving the club in the summer, it would be fair to posit that Bellingham will not be able to solve Klopp’s issues in this area of the pitch all on his own.
With this in mind, it would not be surprising to see Liverpool register an interest in the services of Juventus star Manuel Locatelli, who at a valuation of $32m (£27m/€30m) could well prove to be nothing short of a bargain, given the 24-time international’s experience at the top level.
According to Calciomercato, Klopp could make a move for the highly-rated midfielder who has played 23 times for Max Allegri’s side this season.
Clearly, the valuations of similar midfielders of Locaterlli’s profile are likely to be high and one does wonder how much Liverpool’s budget will realistically be able to spread — especially if Klopp lands his top target of Bellingham this summer who is likely to cost as much as $158m (£132m/€150m). As a result, it would not be surprising if the Reds attempt to grab a bargain during the next transfer window.
According to metrics website FBref, the most similar midfielder to the Italian ace in Europe’s top five leagues over the past year is Brighton’s Moisés Caicedo. The Columbian was targeted by Arsenal in the January transfer window with the Gunners eventually unable to match the Seagulls’ rumored $120m (£100m/€113m) asking price.
In this vein, the links with Locatelli would make sense, especially given the 25-year-old’s elite-level experience and relative knockdown valuation. The midfielder, who is officially on loan at the Turin giants from Sassuolo, not only has 195 top-flight appearances to his name but also featured as Roberto Mancini led Italy to victory at Euro 2020.
The midfielder has yet to register a goal or assist this season, however it is his defensive attributes that may make him a standout option for Klopp, who has been known to value industrious players with an ability to break up play in the middle of the park.
The Italian is in the 93rd percentile of all midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for blocks and is in the 89th percentile for clearances, according to FBref.
Like Liverpool, Juventus has been largely disappointing in Serie A this season and find themselves in a lowly seventh place by their standards (in part also because of a points deduction). Locatelli has, however, been one of the Old Lady’s best performers in an otherwise forgettable campaign.
With the form of Fabinho having been below what one has come to expect of the Brazilian so far this term, and with Jordan Henderson turning 33 before the start of next season, it would seem logical that Liverpool would look to strengthen in the number six’ position. Perhaps, in Locatelli, Klopp may find himself a bargain who can add experience, while also having his best years ahead of him.