Liverpool have four potential midfield ‘targets’ if they choose to exploit contract situations.
With Liverpool’s reticence in the transfer market now well established, questions will always be asked as to whether they could or should be doing more. The injury problems with which the squad is currently afflicted only draw this issue into sharper focus.
While Jurgen Klopp could almost field a plausible starting XI of men who are currently available, it is the midfield which has been most badly hit. Thiago Alcantara, Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all out, Naby Keita hasn’t got going yet this season and the likes of Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho might be pressed into action in the front three due to the issues there.
The club will not panic, it’s not in their DNA to stumble blindly into the market and sign a player for the sake of it. But when the manager is having to joke about his side being affected by a witch, so bad has their luck been, we may have reached the point where a signing becomes essential.
The Reds were hoping to bolster their midfield this summer too, as evidenced by their interest in Aurelien Tchouameni. Although he elected to join Real Madrid, it’s interesting that a player who is statistically similar to the French international keeps cropping up in connection with Liverpool.
Per FBRef, Ismael Bennacer would offer the same skills as Tchouameni. Italian outlet Calciomercatoweb claimed earlier this month that he was on the Reds’ radar, while this week The Mirror (via La Gazette du Fennec ) have reported that Bennacer is looking to more than double his salary at AC Milan and may leave if they refuse.
The Algerian midfielder remains under contract for two more years, whatever happens in his negotiations with his club. As the window is only open for another two weeks, if Liverpool were looking to sign a central midfielder at short notice, they may be better served to look at players in the final year of their deal.
Their clubs may be willing to accept a relatively low fee rather than lose the player for nothing next summer. With that in mind, here are some midfielders who will soon be out of contract.
Transfermarkt’s highest valued central midfielder whose contract expires in 2023 is Gavi, a player who has already been linked with a move to Anfield this summer. It has since been reported that the 18-year-old is close to signing a new deal but with the chaos at Barcelona this summer it’s not impossible to imagine that falling by the wayside.
A player who can attack the penalty area with both crosses and through balls (he was the top player for both in the opening weekend of the new La Liga season), Gavi would be an excellent, if unlikely, addition in this window.
Fabian Ruiz, Napoli
You’ll notice the theme of these suggestions is that they have mostly already been rumoured to be on Liverpool’s wish list. Fabian Ruiz has also seemingly caught the eye of Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United, and it has been claimed he has agreed to sign for the former.
However, Liverpool’s links to Ruiz date back to at least 2019, and his move to Paris is not confirmed yet. Two of his top four stylistic matches according to Statsbomb’s data are Thiago and Jordan Henderson, which suggests the 26-year-old could slot into the Reds’ midfield relatively easily.
Konrad Laimer, RB Leipzig
Liverpool’s relationship with the Red Bull clubs is well established, so a move for Konrad Laimer could be relatively straightforward. Leipzig have reportedly rejected offers from Bayern Munich, and it may be preferable for them to see the 25-year-old move overseas rather than joining the Bundesliga’s top dogs.
Laimer is a pressing monster who would surely feel at home in a Klopp team. He also ticks a lot of the same boxes as Jude Bellingham and would likely be far more readily available.
Benjamin Bourigeaud, Rennes
Klopp once wanted to sign Julian Brandt but was convinced by the transfer analysts to go for Mohamed Salah instead. Safe to say that worked out well, but if the Liverpool boss still craved a similar player, the stats suggest Benjamin Bourigeaud could be the answer.
While perhaps more of an attacking midfielder or winger than the Reds are looking for, the Rennes man was one of only six players in Europe’s big five leagues to get at least 11 in the assists and non-penalty goals columns last season. With those numbers, it’s a surprise more teams aren’t rumoured to be making a move.