By Daniel Rhodes.
Go on, admit it, first thing in a morning or last thing at night – depending on your transfer window (and sleep) habits – you check the BBC Gossip Column to see who Liverpool are signing next? There’s more authority when the BBC pick out a rumour in the post-fact, post-truth, fake-news world and hand it the corporation’s seal of approval.
In my view, based on nothing but speculation, the main fake news sites these days built their whole business models on old-school transfer gossip columns, who have been getting away with baseless bullshit based on wild imaginations and 2+2 = ‘whatever-you-want-it-to’ news for decades.
Moving on, this article is based purely on the unselfish sacrifice of The Tomkins Times’ editor, Chris Rowland, who has been tracking the Liverpool-related rumours – only from the BBC ‘column’ – for years. That’s some level of dedication. For the record, if facts are your thing, last season we signed 2.7% of the players we were linked with. Bear that in mind when considering some of the players we have been linked with since January.
Rules of the game:
- Only players listed on the BBC Gossip Column are included.
- You have £200m to spend, and that includes all money made from sales as well.
- The formation is the 4-3-3 we’ve used for the majority of the season.
- It is impossible for us to go through each player on Wyscout and watch a big enough sample to make any decent conclusions without using up our monthly allocation in one sitting!
- Vote based on how much you’ve watched each player. How much do you know about them? How well will they fit into our current set up? How much are they likely to cost? How likely are they to come to Liverpool?
- The valuations can be based on either Wyscout (in Euros) or TransferMarkt (in Pounds); however, often these are on the low side. Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do about this. My general rule is: double it and £1.
- And remember, this is only fun, so if any of these rules make you angry at any point, then reconsider how important transfer rumours have got in your life, maybe ring someone close to you, or go for a long walk.
To help you decide I’ve linked to each individual players’ TransferMarkt page. This has the performance and injury records of each player, as well as a valuation.
The key for me is to keep these brief – and we would like to hear the various thoughts that have gone into each vote by subscribers in the comments section below. The goalkeeper I’ve seen most is Joe Hart – and he would be available. However, I’m not convinced by his shot-stopping ability, or confidence in claiming crosses and dealing with set pieces; in fact, all reports I’ve heard from Italy are that he’s made a fair few errors this season. There’s no point in signing a young goalkeeper because we currently have Karius (and Grabara). Mignolet has been excellent since returning to the side, so if we sign anyone it has to be a clear upgrade. And I don’t see any in the above list. On that basis, I’ve gone for Leno, as he was highly-rated by many, and impressed me when I was researching Karius last summer. Tough one this.
Pick One Goalkeeper
- Bernd Leno - Bayer Leverkusen (47%, 95 Votes)
- Kasper Schmeichel - Leicester City (23%, 46 Votes)
- Samir Handanovic - Inter Milan (18%, 36 Votes)
- Joe Hart - Man City (6%, 13 Votes)
- Alex Meret - Udinese (5%, 11 Votes)
- Steve Mandanda - Crystal Palace (1%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 203
Potentially the most important upgrades this current Liverpool squad requires. Moreno is not fancied by the manager anymore it seems, and Milner started okay but his machine-like predictability to cut inside on his stronger foot and curl in a cross to one player usually marked by at least two tall centre-backs, is imprinted on brain never to be erased. Clyne – possibly – has been more frustrating. His pace leads to more attacking and favourable positions than Milner, but his final ball has been atrocious at times; similar to his decision-making of when to dribble, and/or shoot. Both are on the short side as well. Crucially, other teams have picked up on this and now allow both of them to have the ball as often as possible, whilst double-teaming Coutinho and Firmino.
Lots of sensible folk are getting incredibly excited about Ryan Sessegnon, but it seems to be a focus on the attacking play and very little on his defending, coupled with his inexperience and potential to move to a wide forward or winger’s role.
Here’s my article on Ben Chilwell, who I looked at last year.
Assessing the quoted fee (around the £5m mark), and looking at his style and fit to our method of play, this seems like a no brainer. No doubt some fans will moan we’re buying young players to develop, when we need “first team ready”, but Chilwell looks like an exceptional talent, both positionally, in the tackle, and going forward.
However, I’ve seen him play three or four times this season and there may have been some regression, or struggles to adapt to a lack of minutes.
But, selecting from the above players, I’m trying to buy the best around. Both Danilo and Mendy are six foot plus, have plenty of experience at the top level, and are rated highly. Spend as much as possible on improving our weak links.
Pick TWO Full-Backs
- Benjamin Mendy - Monaco (25%, 86 Votes)
- Ryan Sessegnon - Fulham (22%, 78 Votes)
- Danilo - Real Madrid (14%, 50 Votes)
- Sead Kolasinac - Schalke (12%, 43 Votes)
- Theo Hernandez - Atletico Madrid (10%, 33 Votes)
- Ben Chilwell - Leicester City (8%, 28 Votes)
- Andrew Robertson - Hull City (6%, 20 Votes)
- Marc Navarro - Espanyol (2%, 8 Votes)
- Jordy Gaspar - Lyon (0%, 1 Votes)
Total Voters: 198
Most readers on this site are well aware of my views on Lovren, and the urgent need to replace him in the starting line up.
Recent rumours overnight suggest a deal might be done already with Keane at Burnley, as well Van Dijk. This suggests the management see the need for improvement, and most importantly: suitability. If we’re going to play on the front foot, buy centre-backs with the attributes to deal with the large spaces they are expected to cover.
I’ve opted for Van Dijk – who I’ve watched a lot, in matches and on Wyscout. The fee suggested is eye-watering, and risky; but if it pays off, and we get a consistent centre-back who plays for the next six or seven years, then it will be a bargain. He has all the attributes to deal with our tactical set up. As well as being strong – and reading the movement of attackers – he is quick. That’s vital to help cover the space around him.
In fantasy football, Koulibaly is the most sought-after centre-back in the world. Chelsea and Man City both had huge bids rejected last summer; both are expected to go in again this summer.
However, at the age of 22, and with 30 plus caps for Uruguay, coming from a Diego Simeone defensive set up, Jose Gimenez looks incredible. Not a prospect, he’s already world class. Lightning over five yards, reads the play brilliantly, but comes across like the archetypal Premier League centre-back: strong in the tackle, at times too aggressive, doesn’t take any nonsense, and is a player with vast experience at such a young age. He’s rated around the £55m mark, with all the biggest clubs linked with him. With 9,000 competitive minutes already, as well as the versatility to play in a holding role and even at right-back, Gimenez appears to have it all. My two concerns are his injury record, and the difference in Simeone’s system to Klopp’s.
Pick TWO Centre-Backs
- Virgil Van Dijk - Southampton (44%, 157 Votes)
- Jose Gimenez - Atletico Madrid (28%, 99 Votes)
- Kalidou Kouibaly - Napoli (11%, 41 Votes)
- Michael Keane - Burnley (8%, 28 Votes)
- Simon Kjaer - Fenerbache (5%, 18 Votes)
- Ben Gibson - Middlesbrough (3%, 10 Votes)
- Pontus Jansson - Leeds Utd (1%, 4 Votes)
Total Voters: 201
With Henderson’s ongoing injury problems, we certainly need one – possibly two – central midfielders this summer. Lucas is limited, and both he and Can are often ponderous in possession, taking too many touches and slowing down play against the deep-parked buses.
Sign Keita. *Here was a recent, IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT, on Naby.*
One issue arises when categorising players, as they are often versatile and play in numerous positions. One such player is Hakim Ziyech, who plays for Ajax. He’s played in central midfield this season, but is predominantly an attacking player. With 44 starts this season, he’s scored 12 and set up a team-mate to score 20 times: a whopping 32 goals or assists in just over forty games. Certainly raised my eyebrows when looking at these numbers. For FC Twente, he scored 34 goals, with 30 assists, in just 76 games. I’ll be honest, unlike a lot of folk when it comes to transfers, I’ve hardly seen him play. I could recall one Europa match this season. However, with attacking players you can be more confident about the validity and veracity of their individual player data. So he’s a pick based purely on numbers – and I welcome anyone who tells me I’m wrong with this lad.
On a similar note, Youri Tielmans, who predominantly plays in a more central role and is only 19, has some unbelievable numbers this season. With 4,000 competitive minutes and fifty matches, he’s scored 18 goals with 15 assists. These are eye-watering figures for a player of such a young age. The only caveat has to be the standard of football, and anyone who buys him (in the PL) should only expect around half these, at best. But still, nine goals and eight assists from central midfield would be as good as it gets. Plus, he’ll already have an understanding with Ziyech, if we were to sign them both.
Pick THREE Midfielders
- Naby Keita - RB Leipzig (35%, 158 Votes)
- Hakim Ziyech - Ajax (18%, 81 Votes)
- Youri Tielemans - Anderlecht (18%, 81 Votes)
- Ivan Rakitic - Barcelona (11%, 51 Votes)
- Jeffrey Kondogbia - Inter Milan (7%, 31 Votes)
- Franck Kessie - Atalanta (5%, 23 Votes)
- Pedro Obiang - West Hame (2%, 9 Votes)
- Maxime Lopez - Marseilles (1%, 6 Votes)
- Nicolo Barella - Cagliari (1%, 4 Votes)
- Roque Mesa - Las Palmas (0%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 182