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Transfer rumours heat up in England

Feb, 2021 | By Our Reporter | ||

Liverpool need to strengthen in three key areas this summer in order to be Premier League challengers again, so who could Jurgen Klopp sign to get the champions firing again? Liverpool's 4-1 defeat to Manchester City recently saw them slip 10 points behind the league leaders - which could become 13 points if Pep Guardiola's side win their game in hand - as the Reds' hopes of retaining their title all but evaporated at Anfield.

We look at possible players Klopp and Sporting Director Michael Edwards may be targeting this summer:
Centre-back options
With Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all sidelined until the end of the season and Liverpool having still not signed a permanent replacement for Dejan Lovren, Klopp has to bring in a new central defender this summer.
Ibrahima Konate (RB Leipzig)
Age: 21
Contract expires: 2023

Liverpool are reportedly monitoring Dayot Upamecano's partner in Leipzig's three-man back line, although they are not the only Premier League club believed to be interested in signing Konate this summer. The France U21 international, who joined the Bundesliga side on a free from Sochaux in 2017, maybe a better - and cheaper - option than his compatriot, who is thought to be heading to Bayern Munich next season. And Klopp must have been able to better assess the centre-back, who had not played since December 16 due to an ankle injury, as his team took on Leipzig in their Champions League last-16 tie.

Wijnaldum replacement With Georginio Wijnaldum still to sign a new contract at Anfield - the Dutchman's current deal expires this summer - Liverpool look like they will need to find a replacement for the player next season.
Pedro Goncalves (Sporting Lisbon)
Age: 22
Contract expires: 2025

Goncalves, who can operate on the wing, or as a central midfielder - was actually brought in to replace Bruno Fernandes when the forward left Sporting to join Man Utd in January 2020, scoring 14 times in just 15 league games so far this campaign. Liverpool reportedly made an enquiry for the versatile Portugal U21 international in the recent January transfer window and are understood to be deciding whether to activate the £53m release clause in the 22-year-old's contract this summer.
Renato Sanches (Lille)
Age: 23
Contract expires: 2023

There may be a few raised eyebrows at reports suggesting Liverpool are looking at the Lille midfielder to replace Wijnaldum, but the player - who was part of Portugal's Euro 2016-winning squad - has revived his previously faltering career since joining the Ligue 1 club from Bayern Munich in August 2019. The 23-year-old is probably best remembered in England for an ill-fated season-long loan spell with Swansea City in 2017-18 which saw him spend more time on the treatment table than the field of play as the Swans were relegated to the Championship.

However, Sanches's impressive form in his first two seasons at Lille has not only helped the club to surprisingly top the Ligue 1 standings, but it has also put him on the radar of Liverpool's scouts. Although whether the Reds would be prepared to spend £64m on Sanches - the amount Lille president Gerard Lopez claimed he turned down for him in January - is debatable.

Front-three alternative
Roberto Firmino is worrying, whether it be a lack of form or maybe just that slow decline as one gets a little bit older, which is natural for any attacker when they get to their late 20s because they don't play as long as players in other areas of the pitch… and sooner or later that front three will have to be broken up.
Kylian Mbappe (PSG)
Age: 22
Contract expires: 2022

Doubts have emerged of late about Mbappe's future in the French capital as the PSG superstar weighs up whether to extend his stay at the Parc des Princes beyond his current contract, which runs out in 2022. Real Madrid were understood to be leading the race for the France international striker, although a leading sports paper claims Liverpool are now the favourites, if he opts not to sign a new deal with his boyhood club.

And speaking in January, Mbappe said: "I want to think about what I want to do in the next few years, where I want to be, this is how my thinking goes. But it is true that soon we will have to make a decision. "I do not want to sign a contract (with PSG) and say a year later that I want to leave. If I sign it, it is to stay, and that deserves time for reflection."
Raphinha (Leeds United)
Age: 24
Contract expires: 2024

The forward only joined Leeds from Rennes in October, but he is already attracting interest from Liverpool, with France Football claiming the forward tops the champions' wish-list of attacking players this summer. And one person who has been particularly impressed by the 24-year-old's impact since arriving at Elland Road - he has recorded four goals and four assists in 17 league games - is Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher.

"Some of his touches and his play when he comes inside, we've highlighted his movement as well," the former Liverpool defender told MNF after Leeds' 2-0 win over Crystal Palace. "I was really impressed with him when I watched him at Leicester the other weekend as well. You see that shot there (before Bamford's goal against Palace), that's so typical of a wide man, that penetrating run that we talk about with Salah, Mane and Sterling, all the great wide players. They make that run and he does. He has great quality on the ball.

"He assisted Bamford certainly in that Leicester game when he fired that pass in and you look at his numbers there, he looks like a real player, certainly of late.I think we mentioned before the game that he has been involved in seven goals in the last eight games, so he's always a huge threat."

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