Football Features

How Liverpool might respond to Man City’s Haaland signing in the transfer market

By Ben Green

Published: 17:30, 30 May 2022

Liverpool’s cusp-of-immortality season ultimately ended with a whimper as Manchester City pipped them to the Premier League title and Real Madrid sealed Champions League glory in Paris.

Jurgen Klopp has prophetically urged Liverpool fans to “book the hotel” for Istanbul next season, implying his side will showcase the mental resilience — and quality — to bounce back and make an 11th European Cup final appearance in 2022/23.

Of course, his prospects of charting a path to next season’s Turkish showpiece have already been blunted by the seemingly inevitable departure of Sadio Mane, who has just one final year on his contract at Anfield and is attracting fervent interest from Bayern Munich.

Throw Manchester City’s game-changing acquisition of Erling Haaland — and Julian Alvarez —  into the mix, and Liverpool already appear to be behind the curve just two days after their season concluded. Klopp looks set for a busy summer.

It was Sir Alex Ferguson who once mused that a “successful team lasts maybe four years and then some change is needed”. Klopp’s has last five since Mohamed Salah pitched up in 2017 and formed the club’s famous attacking trident alongside Mane and Roberto Firmino.

The winter arrival of Luis Diaz has placated immediate fear, while Fabio Carvalho is an exciting prospect from Fulham. But, who else could Klopp target this summer to fulfil his early promise of a return to the Champions League summit and compete with a Haaland-inspired City?


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Jarrod Bowen (4/1 with Sky Bet)

In the Premier League this season just three players racked up double digits for goals and assists: Mohamed Salah (23 goals, 13 assists), Mason Mount (11 goals, 10 assists) and Jarrod Bowen (12 goals, 10 assists). Such form is hard to ignore and Gareth Southgate recently recognised Bowen’s burgeoning reputation for West Ham by handing him a debut England call-up for next month’s Nations League fixtures.

Klopp, likewise, has glanced covetously in the direction of Bowen recently, calling the 25-year-old “unbelievable” when the Hammers took on Liverpool back at the start of March. “Bowen, what a player he became!” Klopp said earlier this season. “We saw him as well at Hull and he was really good at that time. I’m not sure a lot of people expected this jump, but unbelievable player.”

Previously linked with a move to Anfield, it’s clear why there would be interest emanating from Merseyside for Bowen. Stylistically he matches the profile of the type of forward Klopp would covet. A left-footer who plays on the right as an inside forward, Bowen has attributes strikingly comparable with Salah; that’s not to say the two are on a level playing field talent wise, but you can certainly discern the similar playing styles.

Only Salah (18.92) had a better left foot expected goals than Bowen (9.37) in the Premier League across 2021/22, showing their penchants to cut in and let fly. Bowen has also been used through the middle for David Moyes over the past two seasons when Michail Antonio has been unavailable, a tactical gambit also tested by Klopp with Salah, and to a certain extent with Diogo Jota.

Aurelien Tchouameni

“I like them both”, Aurelien Tchouameni recently commented when discussing links to both Liverpool and Real Madrid. The 22-year-old Frenchman has been generating a lot of noise for Monaco since joining the club in 2020 from Bordeaux, and the suggestion is that he may fly the nest this summer.

Already capped eight times by France, Tchouameni is a midfield monster who would no doubt thrive in a system geared towards a relentless press and a high-octane approach. Capable of playing as a No. 6 or a No. 8, Tchouameni is combative and tenacious out of possession, but progressive and forward-thinking on the ball.

His defensive attributes are where he really shines; since the start of last season, only four players have made over 160 interceptions across Europe’s top five leagues: Jose Luis Palomino (179), Bremer (175), Milan Badelj (172) and Tchouameni (161). He also ranks third for tackles (213) and second for possessions won in the middle third (326). For all intents and purposes, the Frenchman is a supreme midfield destroyer, breaking up play with relish.

Stylistically, though, Tchouameni would offer something completely different to Klopp than Fabinho, the club’s current defensive midfield star. The 22-year-old nearly triples Fabinho for completed take-ons per 90 minutes in 2021/22 (1.17 to 0.43), while he doubles the Brazilian’s shots per 90 (1.69 to 0.82), touches in the opposition box (1.53 to 0.89) and penalty area entries (2.49 to 1.44) — no wonder he has cited Cesc Fabregas as one of his midfield mentors.

“Fabregas is a legend of football, so when I came here, my first idea was to ask him a lot of questions – his movements, how he gives the ball,” Tchouameni recently said. For me, it’s easy because I have one of the best midfielders in football; he helps me a lot. I have everything here to develop and grow as a player.”

Darwin Nunez (5/1 with Sky Bet)

Liverpool have previous when it comes to scintillating Uruguayan strikers; in fact, Luis Suarez will be up for grabs this summer. However, Klopp’s transfer stance is usually to bring in recruits on the younger end of the spectrum, and Darwin Nunez certainly fits the brief, as he already knows from earlier this season.

Only Kylian Mbappe (39) scored more goals than Nunez (34) among U23 players in top-flight European club football across 2021/22, emphasising just how devastating he was in front of goal. Two of those, of course, came in Benfica’s Champions League quarter-final defeat to Liverpool, in both legs.

With Mbappe recently revealing that he held tentative talks with Liverpool before penning fresh terms in Paris, it’s clear that Klopp would not shy away from a potential marquee acquisition to really shake up the Premier League foundations, as City did with Haaland. Nunez would certainly bring that Hollywood appeal.

Christian Eriksen (16/1 with Sky Bet)

“If Liverpool are looking for a midfield player to come on for, say, Thiago [Alcantara] – who gets injured a little bit – why would you not look at Eriksen?” Gary Neville recently told the Overlap Fan Debate. “I think Eriksen will get plucked by a big club. I tell you what, if you were any top-six club that were looking at a midfield three and you wanted a player to go in there and play 30 games for you in a squad-type [situation], you’d [take him].”

Back to his brilliant best after last summer’s scare, Christian Eriksen was a standout performer in the second half of the season, and was being tipped by many as the signing of 2021/22, despite only joining Brentford midway through the campaign. In fact, from his debut in February to the end of the season, only Kevin De Bruyne (42) and Martin Odegaard (38) created more chances in the Premier League than Eriksen (30).

“Jordan Henderson and James Milner are not getting any younger,” Steven Gerrard recently stated. “They’re still top players at this level, of course, and they’ll want to go on and do more. But for Liverpool, if you think about the next five, six, seven years, they’re going to need a midfielder, an eight, who can get goals, who can get double figures.” Eriksen reached that double-digit tally in five of his seven seasons at Tottenham.

Antony

If Klopp were serious about bolstering his frontline with a bit of Brazilian magic then Antony may be exactly what the doctor ordered. Heavily linked with a move to Manchester United where former Ajax boss Erik ten Hag now has the reins, a potential move to Anfield could give Liverpool a further psychological boost in denying one of their great rivals.

That already proved the case when they signed Sadio Mane from Southampton in 2016, with the Senegalese recently confirming that he had agreed to join Man Utd before Klopp phoned him and made him change his mind. It just feels as though the German has the reputational pulling power to sway players to join Liverpool and flourish in his system.

Other names Liverpool have been linked with:

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