Free Friday & LFC News, Media and Transfer Roundup – March 31st, 2023
The Red Star, The Folly of Ferdinand & A Lack of Self Deprecation
Free Friday will cover our work across The Tomkins Times’ Substack network, with it running via an opt-in or opt-out newsletter on The Main Hub (where almost all of the community commenting takes place), but covering TTT’s four sub-Substacks, or spokes.
Also make sure you check out Daniel Zambartas’ media round-up, which will be added to best of TTT from the previous week.
Best Comment of the Week
Here’s Mobykidz replying to a post on the transfer thread by Jeff:
"...the club has Harvey Elliott and Carvalho on the books but Wirtz is today a far better player than either of these lads with a significant upside." Agreed. I think Florian Wirtz is a superb player. Just to add my thoughts, which is more exploring possibilities that might be worth a brief discussion. First on Harvey Elliott's virtues, Florian Wirtz's future position (and who we might sacrifice) and what Klopp's idea might be for Mason Mount.
You are right with your view compared to Elliott (you can add in Curtis Jones too). To me Elliott is a good player but lacks that extra pace and power. But he has instinctive vision you cannot teach. Whether the team can orientate itself enough to his strengths is a dilemma. He is in the team this season on merit but I am not sure he'll be part of our engine room next season if Klopp wants more pace and power. Do we cash in on him (or Jones) to fund another deal? I don't know but Wirtz may not be "competing" with Elliott for a midfield slot.
When we talk of any player joining Liverpool there is an additional dimension. We know Jurgen Klopp likes agile players who can be deployed in different positions. Klopp often buys attacking players deploying them in a position we do not expect. Gakpo is one example. So, is he an attacking midfielder or a potential inside forward? If it is the latter could we see one of our contracted forwards leave to raise funds? Is it possible Diego Jota (or even more controversial Darwin Nunez) could go? This summer might throw up a few surprises not just with incoming players but outgoing ones too.
Which brings to Mason Mount, who could leave Chelsea but still would incur a fee and significant wages. He has been linked in the press with us. So, is he a "cheaper" alternative to Wirtz? Again, we are all assuming someone like Mount would play in an advanced role. I think Klopp might see Mount as a natural successor to Gini Wijnaldum on the left side of midfield. He's good on the ball, has decent pace, a really good engine and can execute an intense press with an eye for goal (plus a few inches taller). More often than not Liverpool FC see something in a player revealed by their scouting and analysis. And of course Klopp's instinctive vision, which you cannot teach. Just some of my early morning ramblings on the back of your usual insightful posts.
TTT Main Hub
The highlight of the week on the Main Hub was Paul’s deep dive into the elite finishers across the best leagues in Europe.
This article was first inspired by looking at Cody Gakpo's 'Efficiency', which seemed to tally with the nature of his finishing in all his PSV and Netherlands goals, and those bagged for the Reds.
Liverpool’s best finisher can be seen in 7th place.
There’s also a huge game coming up tomorrow and you can discuss the visit to the Ethiad on the usual match thread:
This Red Planet
Rio Ferdinand, idiocy and stealing a living - as well as the ideal context for viewing football on the TV were my topic of the week on This Red Planet.
How does this relate to the MOTD broadcast then? Well, the clips had the crowd noise similar to that above in Inside Anfield. And that was it, no Martin Fucking Tyler’s monotone bollocks polluting a wonderful Liverpool moment. No banterrific to-and-fro from Neville and Carragher. No inane half-time filler. No adverts. No slick presenter with the charisma of a cucumber. No Richard Keys sexist or bigoted tropes. Nothing but the football and the wonderful trimmings that make it so special. I’m not suggesting to anyone how to watch football, people clearly like punditry. But I don’t get the option to just watch the football. Apart from the actual football, do what else I want? Unique thoughts from those who went to the match. Those who are passionate about it and look forward to it all week…
The Zen Den
Paul’s TZD piece was something we should all take on board as the season comes to its climax.
I certainly reach points where I find that I just want a season to be over, but it's often health-related, combined with the stress of writing about the club and relying on the income it produces.
I find it hard to switch off.
But if we can ever get ourselves out of the Must-Win bubble, there can be plenty to enjoy, even if a season trails off. And within two weeks it could feel like this season is 'over'.
Yet you can still have great games, great moments, or the pleasure of seeing young players get given more minutes, at the same time that you might be saying goodbye to a player you'll miss (this summer, Roberto Firmino; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keïta will get more muted goodbyes).
Clearly we all reach exhaustion point with football in the 'never-sleeps' age. It's everywhere, all the time.
The time between games feels ever shorter, and all football organisations seem to be trying to create more games to make more money, when at times it feels like the game is Mr Creosote. Who will offer the wafer that blows the whole thing apart?
The next three games are daunting, but may have some pleasant surprises. Then, whatever happens, the remaining nine games will have things to look forward to, things to learn from.
Two pieces from Chris this week, the first was a look back to one of my favourite seasons under Benitez, when we came so close to winning that elusive Premier League title; it was also co-written by one of TTT’s best writers, and that’s Anthony Stanley.
OK, we ended up not winning anything. But it was one hell of a ride.
2009 deserves a place in our history. It was the culmination of Rafa Benitez’s marvellous work – the zenith of just how effective we could be under the Spaniard’s stewardship. We were unlucky in two massive competitions and it could easily have been so much more. It also should have heralded something special; looking back, there is a trace of a team reaching their peak but just falling short. The reality, however, is that the Liverpool crafted by Rafa may well have been able to kick on and grab that elusive title if not for ownership circumstances that were beyond his control, circumstances that would eventually lead the club to court.
But the season should be celebrated simply because of the memories that it bequeathed us. Benitez had given us plenty of those already in the campaigns preceding this, most notably in Istanbul in 2005 but also in reacting another Champions League final in Athens in 2007. But it all came together in a near-triumphal procession in which we ultimately fell just short, but for that period we were back on the map of being genuine contenders again.
Yeah, déjà vu. In this case, familiarity does indeed begin to breed contempt. But remember Madrid getting spanked in the same week as United, two 4-4 draws in seven days against two of our closest rivals, Gerrard’s hat trick at Anfield as Villa were contemptuously swatted aside, Newcastle hammered at Christmas time in St James Park, Fernando Torres terrifying the opposition, Alonso purring, Mascherano snarling, Stevie racking up goals, 106 strikes from the team in all competitions, 25 league wins, 86 points.
Celebrating failure? No, this is a paean to us getting our voice back and how we could have ended years of domestic frustration which would have to wait a further 11 years. In the modern landscape of shifting and swirling financial realities, it was, without doubt, a successful season.
The next piece was looking ahead to the game tomorrow but also reflecting on the developing rivalry with Man City that’s emerged over the last few years.
And then came City.
But a City unlike any we’d ever known before.
City had never been serious rivals of Liverpool, they had never really been important enough, apart from a brief flurry in the late 60s/early 70s, Francis Lee, Colin Bell, Mike Summerbee et al. They’d even been down to the third tier since. As their neighbours became all-consuming, swallowing trophies, fame and headlines, a money-making trophy-winning bloated behemoth, City were almost defined by not being them. Remember the book ‘Man Utd ruined my life’? By a City fan.
City were the product of their Maine Road environment, down-to-earth, unglamorous and unsuccessful and sort of real, at least compared to their showbiz neighbours , hemmed in by the Coronation Street terraced rows of Rusholme and the flat-roofed graffiti strewn ganglands of Moss Side. I remember me and a mate going to a League Cup semi-final 1st leg there one midweek evening in 1981. We tucked ourselves into a pub called the Beehive, right opposite the Kippax where their ‘boys’ went. The Beehive had a fair percentage of them in. We stood in the corner drinking Hydes Bitter and not saying much. Then someone burst in and shouted ‘Specials are in!” The place almost emptied. Liverpool’s football special trains – remember those days? – had arrived at Piccadilly, and they were all off for the fight. Scousers and mancs. This was all part of matchday routine back then. And City was by no means the most dangerous place to go - Leeds, Birmingham City, West Ham, Chelsea, Utd, Spurs were all more problematic. We just stayed where we were, drinking.
City’s fans then were known for their lugubrious, self-deprecatory black humour, borne out of a seemingly endless succession of failure and ridicule, of being locally second best and nationally irrelevant. In the old adage, they were modest, and had a lot to be modest about. After we’d beaten them 4-0 and 6-0 in the space of four days at Anfield in the League Cup and League in 1995, their fans inside the ground sang ‘Alan Ball’s a football genius’ about their manager.
There’s not much self-deprecation about these days.
The Transfer Hub
Finally Mizgan cast his analytical eye over the Reds’ midfield issues this season.
With Darwin Núñez up front, they may be trying longer balls more to turn the defences over and use the Uruguayan’s pace, but the accuracy has gone down. Even though the drop-off is only 3% in overall passing and 9% in long passes, those small differences can cause a lot of trouble in transition. Taking more care with the ball in the centre of the park will be important going forward.
In the 2019/20 season, Liverpool’s midfielders (top five in minutes played) averaged around 64 passes per 90 with an accuracy rate of close to 85%.
While the passing count has increased with the addition of Thiago, the accuracy had to be maintained for it to work.
A lot more can be done to justify the topic I have picked to write about. But, the thing I have looked at gives us an overall idea of what has changed in Liverpool’s midfield this season. The reason behind the downturn in performance can be many. Some of it is well-known to the world. No wonder we are expecting an overhaul in that department in the summer. We hope that Klopp and his staff get enough financial backing to perform that and get the engine up and running once again.
Daniel Zambartas’ LFC News, Media & Transfer Round-Up
Ragnar Klavan interviewed after LFC vs Celtic legends match (LFC website)
“I’m surprised how many people came out to see the old legs!” Klavan told Liverpoolfc.com post-match.
“It was so nice to be back and to hear You’ll Never Walk Alone. Also it was a great atmosphere with the Celtic fans as well – it was a great afternoon.
“It was nice to be on good grass again. The emotions took over and adrenaline and everything [else] – it was nice to run around, yes.
“To walk out [for the] first time from the locker room into Anfield and to [make] the trip together with the legends team – a lot of memories came back. It was nice to relive them again.”
He added: “It was really nice to be part of it. When I’m called, I will be ready to come again.”
“I think Melwood was also high level, but the connection between the young players was not there.
“I see the big possibilities that the AXA Training Centre has, the young players can also see the big players coming in, and they can smell the atmosphere and dream a little bit higher and bigger. That is a really good thing.”
Steven Gerrard interviewed after LFC vs Celtic legends match (LFC website)
Reflecting on his goal, the former Reds captain told Liverpoolfc.com: "Listen, it feels good when I score in the back garden against Lio!
"If you love football, if you love the game, if you love this club, I'll never get tired of that.
"There was a bit of pressure on me! I took my son to football this morning and he scored a couple, so he had said to me, 'You best score today or you're going to have to buy me something.'
"At least I'll save a few quid by getting on the scoresheet!
"It's always enjoyable to play in front of nearly a full crowd. They were amazing. The main thing is obviously that it's for a good cause. The LFC Foundation and Forever Reds, that's the reason why we're all here.
"It wouldn't be so successful without the support of the fans, and to be fair to Celtic they've turned up in their numbers today and it's been a really enjoyable day."
Watch highlights from the match here:
Bellingham is ahead of where Gerrard was at 19 (The Athletic)
Jude Bellingham at 19-years-old (league):
Steven Gerrard at the same age (league):
“Technically gifted, both combine power and physicality to dominate a midfield, complemented by an excellent passing range and ability to drive the ball forward.
“Bellingham can operate across midfield, whether that is in a defensive role, as part of a double pivot or on the left or right of a midfield three. Gerrard could do the same.
“They are both all-rounders, generalists not specialists, and can execute all aspects of the game at a high level.
“Bellingham (6ft 1in, 185cm) is slightly taller than Gerrard (6ft) and his frame is already more bulked out than most 19-year-old footballers.
“It is part of why Gerrard said Bellingham was further along in his development than he had been at the same age.
“I never had that power and strength until I was probably 22 or 23, so he is definitely more physically developed than me,” Gerrard said.
“He’s more confident than me on the ball. And I’m not saying that just being modest, it’s the truth. He’s further on than what I was at 19.”
Jordan Henderson: Jude Bellingham would be unbelievable for Liverpool (The Times)
“Jordan Henderson has joined the Liverpool charm offensive on Jude Bellingham by saying it would be “amazing” if the Borussia Dortmund midfielder ended up at Anfield and that whoever signs him will be “one lucky club”.
He said: “I just want him to be the best player he can be — of course, if it ended up being Liverpool that would be amazing,” Henderson said. “But it’s got to be right for him, and it’s going to be every club you can think of that will want him.
“He has to think about himself and make sure he makes the right decision for his career. But there’s going to be one lucky club that will end up getting him, whether that is now or in a year or two it will be a lucky club.
“His potential is through the roof, really. He can be as good as he wants to be — but he’s got the right mentality, which is the most important thing.
“He is a really special player, and I can’t believe his age and his mentality, how he applies himself to training and the games, everything. I’ve never seen it before, so I’m pretty confident that he’ll be a pretty good player for many years to come.
“Honestly, I can’t believe his age, how mature he plays, how mature he is off the pitch, in the gym, training, everything, recovery day after the game. He is just dedicated to football.
“He’s a special player, but I’ve said it before we just need to be careful not to apply too much pressure on him but let him play football. When you let him play football you can see what he does for Dortmund, you can see what he does here for England.”
Steven Gerrard and Jurgen Klopp were involved in a spontaneous meeting in Liverpool just days before the Champions League final against Real Madrid last season (The Anfield Wrap via The Mirror)
“Steven Gerrard has opened up on his spontaneous drinking session with Jurgen Klopp in May - just before Liverpool's game against Real Madrid in the Champions League final.
“Gerrard, who was manager of Aston Villa at the time, was sitting outside a pub in Formby when he spotted Klopp walking his dog. The former midfielder then shouted at the Liverpool boss and wished him good luck ahead of the final in Paris.
“In an interview with The Anfield Wrap ahead of the release of the final two episodes of their five part documentary-series, JURGEN, supported by ERDINGER, Gerrard spoke about his meeting with Klopp.
"He was walking the dog, I was sitting outside with one of my friends having a couple of pints," Gerrard said. "I shouted over to wish him good luck, because he had a Champions League final days later. I thought he’d be in the zone.
"He said to me: 'No, no, no. Go the bar and get me a pint.' So we got him a pint. He ended up having two or three, he had a couple of smokes, his dog waited patiently, and we had a good craic for probably over an hour. About football, about life in Liverpool, his plans for the future."
Watch the series on The Anfield Wrap’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCc5C5dNupCMbyutNatfBujQ/join
Virgil van Dijk and Nathan Ake respond strongly to 'arrogance' criticism from Ruud Gullit & Marco van Basten (GOAL)
“Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk has suggested harsh criticisms from Netherlands legends Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit were unfair.
“After the Netherlands lost 4-0 to France last Friday, Van Dijk received criticism from Van Basten and Gullit. Van Basten said the defender "created chaos" rather than put out fires for the Dutch, while Gullit accused him of being arrogant.
Van Baten said: "He makes noise, but he doesn't say anything. He is not clear. A good captain thinks aloud, makes it clear what is going on. He stays in between. He creates chaos. That leads to misunderstandings. That is what you, as a captain, must prevent," he told Ziggo Sport.
"In the dressing room he is good, football tactically and technically not. You need another gentleman on the field. This has to do with leadership. He makes noise, but he says nothing. That's true. This is in you. This is wanting to win at all costs."
"This is of no use to me," van Dijk told Ziggo Sport after being informed of the assessments from Van Basten and Gullit. "Everyone is allowed to have their own opinion these days, that's the case. [But] did I set the bar unrealistically high? How is that possible? It was never perfect – constant is the right word. We've had a lot of success with the team. Football players, they [Van Basten and Gullit] know that better than anyone, have high peaks and deep valley.
"It's quite normal that you can't always play consistently. That you have a phase as a club or player where you are looking for your level. People should not forget that. It is normal that people make mistakes, that it is part of football and that it is very human. Regardless of who gets a platform and is allowed to say what, so that things are made big."
Nathan Ake defended van Dijk, saying: “Virgil is a leader for the Oranje and for Liverpool, what he has achieved is not nothing,” Ake told De Telegraaf (via Inside Futbol).
“He really is a very big personality. Apparently, people don’t see Virgil’s importance to us on and off the pitch. We cannot imagine or wish for a better captain.”
LFC players international duty roundup (LFC website)
“Mohamed Salah produced a goal and assist for Egypt during their 4-0 win over Malawi on Tuesday afternoon, as Andy Robertson then guided Scotland to victory against Spain.
“Salah set up Tarek Hamed's opener in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, before netting his country's third goal with a well-worked move in the 20th minute.
“Later on in the day, Robertson captained Scotland to a 2-0 triumph over Spain at Hampden Park in the qualifying stages for Euro 2024.
“The left-back also assisted Scott McTominay's opening goal at Hampden Park to help Steve Clarke's side make it two wins from two in their group.
“Naby Keita scored as Guinea won while Ibrahima Konate, Virgil van Dijk and Cody Gakpo also enjoyed victories in Monday’s international fixtures.
“Liverpool midfielder Keita netted the opening goal early on to set his country on their way to a 3-2 success over Ethiopia in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying. He also set up their second goal before being substituted at half-time.
“In Euro 2024 qualification Group B, Konate started and finished France’s 1-0 away victory against the Republic of Ireland, for whom Caoimhin Kelleher was an unused substitute.
“Van Dijk captained the Netherlands to a 3-0 home triumph versus Gibraltar that saw Gakpo return from illness to play the second half.
“Finally, Kostas Tsimikas had to be substituted midway through the first half of Greece’s friendly goalless stalemate with Lithuania.”
The Anfield Wrap’s John Gibbons on LFC increasing ticket prices (Daniel Zambartas)
“The concern is that now the freeze has stopped, now they’ve increased it, one year it will be this much, but the next it could be even more, and I think that’s why you need to be firm,” said Gibbons.
“People might say that it is just a small amount of money, but I think in the 90s they were just going up a small amount every year and then before you knew it, ticket prices had doubled.
“I think you just need to be careful as football fans, that you don’t just accept these price increases because I think if you do that, then it’s inevitable that the next ones will be bigger.
“So much of what we’ve achieved together has been through this unity and feeling like we are as one, and stuff like this erodes that. The risk is more around good will and the feeling it will create; you don’t want people going into the stadium feeling angry with the club before they’ve even started [the match].”
Jordan Chamberlain: 'Klopp should take Southgate's lead with Henderson' (The Empire Of The Kop via BBC)
“England's use of Jordan Henderson is something Jurgen Klopp should mirror in the coming seasons.
“He is a brilliant leader and talked his younger team-mates through the game. Off the field, he's a superb role model and someone whose value to team morale and standards is likely to see him picked by Southgate throughout his tenure.
“Henderson still has a contract at Liverpool until 2025, but surely he will no longer be an automatic starter next season. He'll be 33 and a role where his minutes are limited and younger, more dynamic midfielders are bought and selected ahead of him would be useful.”
James Pearce shares one ‘crazy’ statistic from Liverpool’s season so far (Empire of the Kop via the Walk On podcast)
“The Reds’ tally of 47 goals in the Premier League this term is the fourth highest in the division, but it has been heavily inflated by two results in particular, a fact which wasn’t lost on one journalist.
“Crazy stat that #LFC have scored 34% of their PL goals across two games this season. Seven times they have failed to find the net. With plenty of options now up top, time for Klopp’s attack to fire consistently.”
Luis Diaz returns to training (The Times)
“Luis Díaz returned to training on Tuesday to give Liverpool a timely boost in their push for Champions League qualification.
“Díaz trained with youngsters at Liverpool’s academy last week and has now completed his first full training session without concern, as Jürgen Klopp’s side prepare for their remaining ten games of the season.
“Whether Díaz, 26, is included in Liverpool’s squad for this Saturday’s game with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium remains to be seen. His absence was extended to six months after he broke down at the club’s training camp in Dubai in December having just stepped up his training schedule, so Liverpool will be mindful of not pushing him.
“Whether Díaz, 26, is included in Liverpool’s squad for this Saturday’s game with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium remains to be seen. His absence was extended to six months after he broke down at the club’s training camp in Dubai in December having just stepped up his training schedule, so Liverpool will be mindful of not pushing him.”
Erling Haaland faces fitness tests on groin (The Times)
“Manchester City will conduct tests on Erling Haaland’s groin injury this week to establish whether their top goalscorer will be available to play against Liverpool on Saturday.
“Haaland flew back to Manchester from Malaga on Sunday and he will be examined by the club’s doctors at the City Football Academy to gauge his fitness levels before Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off at the Etihad.
“The Norwegian, who has scored 42 goals for City, first suffered the groin injury in the FA Cup win over Burnley on March 18 and it flared up again upon his arrival in Marbella.
“Haaland’s father, Alfie, said last week that his son was “touch and go” to be fit for Saturday.
“Haaland missed 16 matches in his final campaign for Borussia Dortmund because of hip flexor and ankle problems, but since he joined City, he has been unavailable due to injury only twice.”
The latest news from Sky Sports is that Haaland has not been in training this [Thursday] morning. Phil Foden is also out having had an appendectomy.
Jurgen Klopp reveals he is set to become a grandad (Liverpool Echo)
“Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is set to become a grandad later this year as his stepson is expecting the arrival of his first child.
“The announcement comes from the Liverpool manager's stepson, Dennis, who is set to become a father for the first time at the age of 35. An excited Klopp told Lukasz Piszczek on Viaplay Sport Polska: "I'm going to be a grandpa!"
Liverpool yet to open talks with James Milner over new contract (The Athletic)
“Liverpool have yet to open contract talks with James Milner despite Jurgen Klopp’s eagerness to secure the player’s services for another year.
“Milner turned 37 in January but Klopp is keen for him to extend his contract, which expires at the end of the season.
“Although Klopp is planning an overhaul of the midfield department, he values the vice-captain’s experience, leadership and versatility and wants him to sign another one-year extension.
“The former England international is keen to carry on playing and ideally to commit to Liverpool for a ninth season, but there has been no movement on the matter since Klopp spoke publicly about the possibility in January.”
LFC transfer news
“The midfielders Liverpool should try to sign this summer (The Guardian)
Jude Bellingham, Borussia Dortmund
“Jude Bellingham is Liverpool’s main midfield target for this summer but Liverpool may regret not acting quicker. As Bellingham showed at the World Cup, he is a jack of all trades midfielder who is on his way to becoming a master. The teenager ranks fifth for tackles (62), second for dribbles (62) and is the second most fouled player (61) in the Bundesliga this season. With four goals and four assists to his name, he can do it all.”
Ryan Gravenberch, Bayern Munich
“Ryan Gravenberch’s time at Bayern Munich has not gone quite according to plan. Fourteen of his 15 league appearances this season have come from the bench following his arrival from Ajax last summer, and he has mustered just 307 minutes of game time in the Bundesliga. With that in mind, a potential exit is on the cards for the young Dutchman.
“Gravenberch is an effective ball carrier – he made 2.6 successful dribbles per 90 minutes in his final season at Ajax. He is also willing to get stuck in for the good of the team.”
Gabri Veiga, Celta Vigo
“Gabri Veiga has exploded on to the scene this season. The 20-year-old has scored nine goals and provided three assists for Celta Vigo.
“Veiga is making a respectable two tackles per 90 minutes this season, and has shown a willingness to drive his team forward from deep, chipping in with 1.7 dribbles per 90. With a rumoured €40m release clause, there could be a scramble for the Spaniard this summer.
Orkun Kokcu, Feyenoord
“Borussia Dortmund reportedly scouted Turkish youngster Orkun Kokcu earlier this season as a potential replacement for Bellingham. Liverpool could do a lot worse than cut out the middleman and sign the 22-year-old directly from Feyenoord.
“Kokcu has been a key cog in the midfield for Arne Slot’s side in their bid to secure their first league title in six years. He is a creative presence, ranking third for passes per game (72.3) and second for key passes per game (2.9) in the Dutch top tier this season.”
The latest on Mason Mount (The Athletic)
“The interest in Mount from Anfield is serious.
“The Athletic has been told that significant conversations have taken place over a prospective move, with Liverpool already giving proper consideration to what kind of contract they could offer to persuade the player to join them — a reality which Chelsea accept is commonplace.
“They will not countenance him running his contract down and departing on a free transfer at the end of next season, so would look to sell him this summer if there is no prospect of him extending his stay.
“That said, and given his qualities and age, they would still seek £70million ($86.2m), even though he is entering the last year of his deal. Whether Chelsea recouping that kind of fee for Mount is realistic remains to be seen.
“It was the reports of serial German champions Bayern Munich’s interest, and a potential reunion there with Tuchel, that got chins wagging again.
“Tuchel loved working with Mount at Chelsea, and the feelings were mutual. If the German felt there was a chance of linking up with him again, it would actually be more surprising if he chose not to pursue it.
“But the reality is that Tuchel has only just been appointed, replacing the sacked Julian Nagelsmann, and will still be assessing the quality of the players he has inherited. It would be too premature for him to be making demands already on what kind of players he wants signed at the end of the season.”
Liverpool linked with Evan Ndicka (The Mirror- David Maddock)
“Liverpool are in the fight for one of the Bundesliga’s hottest defensive properties, as they look to strengthen after a disappointing season.
“Evan Ndicka, a Europa League winner with Eintracht Frankfurt who has starred in the Champions League this season, is available on a free transfer in the summer after turning down a final contract offer from the German club.
“That has alerted a host of top European clubs including the Reds, who have followed the 6ft 3in centre half since he emerged as a teenager with Auxerre and at the France youth levels.
“Ndicka ticks all the boxes as far as Liverpool are concerned, because he is available on a free and is the perfect profile. He is also versatile as a left sided defender who has covered in the left back role, and even occasionally as a holding midfielder.”
Liverpool interested in Kim Min-jae (Italian journalist Ciro Venerato of Rai, via FourFourTwo)
“Liverpool are looking like beating Manchester United to a centre-back dubbed 'the new Kalidou Koulibaly'.
“Both northwest rivals are looking at improving their backlines following defensive frailties this season, with the Reds in pole position over the Red Devils in the race for a signature.
“According to Italian journalist Ciro Venerato of Rai(opens in new tab), Napoli centre-back Kim Min-jae is on the radar for Premier League clubs – and Liverpool are ready to pay over £60 million for his services.
“Kim was signed from Fenerbahce for a modest sum last summer as the replacement for Chelsea-bound Kalidou Koulibaly. The South Korean international has shone in Serie A, however, leading Napoli to an unlikely title charge and winning plaudits for his style.”
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