Simon Jones of the Daily Mail spoke exclusively to us about Liverpool’s transfer activity this summer, incomings, outgoings and potential deals for Julian Brandt and Demarai Gray in our latest interview.
AHQ: It’s been reported that Julian Brandt is Liverpool’s top target for the summer window, having failed to land the German in January is this one you think Klopp may look to get done early?
SJ: Julian Brandt is one of the players Jurgen Klopp would like to add but I don’t sense he is necessarily his priority. Like Leicester’s Demarai Gray, Liverpool will target players of around 20 years old with big potential and some experience. Yet it’s plain to see they need a step up in quality. Brandt is at a good level but Liverpool will look for even better if they can attract the right one. Leverkusen are hoping to hold talks with Brandt’s father over a new contract as what we’ve been told is he has a clause allowing him to leave for £17m in 2018.
AHQ: The main talk so far on the summer window has been about Christian Pulisic and Julian Brandt, should Liverpool have done more to get these players in January? I know their clubs didn’t want to sell but some may argue that if it had been Chelsea or Manchester United the deals would have happened?
SJ: You have to look at how many deals Chelsea and Manchester United did in January, it’s not easy. Clubs refuse to sell and while, yes, English clubs have the power to spend big, no-one likes to pay hugely inflated prices as it can then distort your other negotiations too. Liverpool have a strategy and while they looked at adding players, Klopp was also comfortable with his squad. The blip in form can happen but then if you buy to react against that your new addition would have to hit the ground running and that’s never guaranteed.
Christian Pulisic may want to join Liverpool but Dortmund don’t want to sell. Dortmund’s squad will change this summer, they are looking at the likes of Brandt and Mahmoud Dahoud themselves so those additions can alter a club’s perspective on existing players. Though Pulisic is highly valued as one for the future.
AHQ: A solution was fancy found to the Mamadou Sakho saga, Crystal Palace paying a £2m loan fee as well as the players wages. What do you think will happen come the summer?
SJ: Sakho needs to play first and then move on. Liverpool will sell him in the summer so the sooner he shows some form the greater chance they have of attracting he fee they want and striking a deal. However, £20m will be difficult to achieve, especially with high wages to account for too. They may need to reach a compromise on the fee and take a hit on what they paid for him to go.
AHQ: What have you made to Liverpool’s 2017? Should the club have been better prepared for Sadio Mané’s departure to the AFCON?
SJ: We are talking with hindsight yet Liverpool were flying until that combination of Mane’s departure, plus the injuries to Joel Matip and Coutinho altered their rhythm. Those players have been key for picking up the baton when others have dipped in matches. You could argue that players should have been added but really others already there didn’t share the burden and perform to their top level. There’s a soft centre which was evident away at Crystal Palace, then at Bournemouth and at Anfield against Swansea. The shadow squad has supported well but it’s evident they need a special player or three to bridge the gap between them and the likes of Chelsea.
AHQ: Contracts – Philippe Coutinho has signed a new 5-year deal, without a release clause which is great news for the club, Lovren and Lallana are next it seems, but do you feel there will be a resolution with Emre Can after a reported contract stand-off? Do you have any idea what the club may be offering him?
SJ: Liverpool will try and find a solution with Can. He is good player and should he leave there will be Champions League level clubs, such as Juventus, waiting to take him. The axis with Jordan Henderson doesn’t seem to work as it should but Klopp should be able to resolve that in time. I’m not sure what is on the table though it’s evident Can is behind a number of his peers on the pay scale who are closer to the £80,000 to £110,000 a week level and want’s greater parity. It would help his case if he found form on the field first.
AHQ: Do you think Klopp may look to bring in another goalkeeper this summer following more criticism this season and a lack of confidence from fans in a confident first choice goalkeeper?
SJ: Jurgen Klopp is very loyal to his players as we have seen in the cases of Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius. He has tried to deflect pressure from both but, ultimately, Liverpool must look at this position again. The mistakes, hesitancy and subsequent nervousness that has been created at times has made a difference to Liverpool’s title challenge and now their Champions League aspirations. It’s a position that needs to be addressed and they will face competition for the better ones as a few clubs are looking at the same targets.
AHQ: Liverpool will surely already be working on deals for the summer, we know Klopp likes to get his deals done early to make sure of pre-season and time together on the training pitch, where do you feel the club need to strengthen and who do you feel Liverpool will be eyeing up to bring in?
SJ: Liverpool have been planning for the summer for some months already. The priority positions remain left-back, goalkeeper and striker. You would expect Daniel Sturridge to be moved on to make room for another forward but that player doesn’t necessarily have to be an out and out number nine as there are plenty of goals in this team. Wingers have been discussed, those who can drift in and offer a goal threat but it’s unlikely we’ll see them going for someone like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who will cost £58million and is 28 in June. Chelsea’s Dominic Solanke has been mentioned yet, while his profile fits, it’s understood he is not one for Liverpool this summer.
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