So Liverpool are not messing around. Having tormented Arsenal like an older, wiser, faster, stronger sibling on Sunday, they proceeded to treat Monday in much the same manner: Quick, efficient and ruthless.
A deal to sign Naby Keita next summer has been agreed, and the ‘premium’ the Reds have paid RB Leipzig in order to guarantee the midfielder’s arrival in July 2018 has been revealed. On top of his £48million release clause, Liverpool will chuck another £7m Leipzig’s way. A wonderful midfielder for £55m seems decent business.
But German newspaper Bild have a slightly different claim to the outlets on these shores. They report that Liverpool will pay 75million euros (£69.4million) should Leipzig qualify for next season’s Champions League, 70million euros (£64.8million) if Leipzig secure a Europa League place, or 65million euros (£60.2million) should they fail to earn a place in Europe.
Moving on, and Monday brought us reports of a move for Thomas Lemar, “dead” to Arsenal, but very much alive at Anfield. The Daily Mail claim that after Keita, the Monaco winger is one of two players they will target.
The Lemar situation is not straightforward. Monaco do not wish to sell yet another of their first-team stars, but the France international is reported to be keen to join Jurgen Klopp’s circus of really fast people. Two bids have already been rejected, the Mail says, and he is valued at around £75m.
The other target sounds a little familiar. It is indeed claimed that Liverpool still want Virgil van Dijk.
The Southampton centre-half will cost at least £70m, and to write that negotiations would be ‘complicated’ is a slight understatement. Arsenal and Chelsea are ‘waiting in the wings’ too, but Saints will likely just tell them all to bugger off.
BARCA WANT RASHFORD
Now *this* would be funny.
Barcelona have courted Philippe Coutinho pretty much since the start of the summer, but Liverpool are not budging. For their next transfer trick, the Spanish club are hardly casting their net much further. Their gaze remains on the Premier League, but moves to Old Trafford.
According to Don Balon, the Catalan club want Marcus Rashford to replace Luis Suarez when the Uruguayan leaves.
They report that Rashford’s ‘reports’ – his scouting ones, one presumes – are ‘unbeatable’, and that the teenager ‘is the main signing of the next season’ for Barca. He will cost ‘a figure close to’ 200million euros, which is a whopping £185m.
But it just won’t happen. Rashford is a homegrown United talent, is in the first team under Jose Mourinho, is settled in his home city, and on a long-term contract. And Don Balon are about as reliable as a paper bag in a monsoon.
AND THE REST
Manchester United have been given encouragement in a potential deal for Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale, 28… Chelsea are close to signing Leicester City midfielder Danny Drinkwater, 27, for £40m, as well as 24-year-old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal… Swansea are serious contenders to sign Bayern Munich’s 20-year-old Portugal midfielder Renato Sanches… Manchester City plan to make a last-ditch bid for 28-year-old Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez… Chelsea are close to selling 28-year-old striker Diego Costa back to Atletico Madrid in a £30m deal… Manchester City are expected to make a fresh bid for defender Jonny Evans, 29, after Leicester failed with a £21m offer… Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala, 26, could join West Brom as part a deal for the Northern Ireland defender… Crystal Palace are close to a £25m agreement with Liverpool for the signing of 27-year-old defender Mamadou Sakho… Tottenham could miss out on Paris St-Germain defender Serge Aurier, as the 24-year-old prefers a move to Manchester United… Sam Allardyce is being considered for a surprise return to Crystal Palace, should the Eagles sack manager Frank de Boer.