Liverpool midfield search among ten transfers that could still happen before the deadline

Date published: Tuesday 30th August 2022 11:26 - Matthew Stead

Liverpool transfer targets Kouadio Kone and Jude Bellingham

The transfer deadline is creeping up but these 10 deals could still go through before then despite not being at too much of an advanced stage

 

10) Layvin Kurzawa to Fulham
The three promoted clubs have separated themselves into distinct transfer categories this summer.

Nottingham Forest have embraced the challenge of constructing an entire new starting XI, bench and reserve team, making almost 20 additions to a squad which was gutted at the end of last season.

Bournemouth reside at the other end of the spectrum, their £20m or so spend on Marcus Tavernier, Marcos Senesi, Neto, Ryan Fredericks and Joe Rothwell doing little to persuade Scott Parker the Cherries won’t be kicked into oblivion again at some point this season.

In the middle are Fulham, whose business has been sensible, considered and quiet. Joao Palhinha and Andreas Pereira is a surprisingly effective midfield tandem, Bernd Leno was snared for next to nothing and the defence has been improved through Issa Diop and Kevin Mbabu.

The Cottagers will hope for a similarly smooth track in signing Layvin Kurzawa to provide cover and competition at left-back. It would complete an accomplished summer, all things considered. After all, they did the Forest thing before and it ever so slightly backfired.

 

9) Jan Bednarek to Aston Villa
Steven Gerrard has a type. His first Rangers signing was Scott Arfield, followed soon after by Allan McGregor. At Aston Villa it was Lucas Digne, then Philippe Coutinho, Robin Olsen and Calum Chambers.

His first summer has continued that theme of valuing experience above fanciful ideas like suitability, squad balance and wage structure. Coutinho joined permanently, Diego Carlos eschewed Champions League possibilities and five players were signed quickly, of whom only Boubacar Kamara is younger than 28.

In the grips of an injury crisis at centre-half it therefore comes as little surprise to see Gerrard scouring the market as far as Southampton and finding current reserve Jan Bednarek, with his sprightly 26 years but positively battle-hardened 132 Premier League appearances speaking something profound to the Villa manager.

Southampton have conceded four goals or more in 11 Premier League games since Ralph Hasenhuttl was appointed manager. Bednarek has started all but one of those matches. Give him the armband.

 

8) James Garner to Everton
Despite being forever destined to ‘save Manchester United millions’, there seems to be no obvious future for James Garner at Old Trafford. That stands for both the long and short term, considering the midfielder has waited patiently for a chance which never came under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and now Erik ten Hag.

A pair of impressive loans at Nottingham Forest and a stint for Watford has kept Garner’s star shining bright enough to command Premier League interest. Leicester, Southampton and Tottenham are considering their options.

It must also have been pretty difficult for Garner to watch the situation unfold at the City Ground. Having helped Steve Cooper and co. earn promotion to the Premier League, the midfielder might have fancied his chances of being swept up in the ensuing tide of transfers. Nothing ever came to fruition and with Casemiro arriving to finally keep the composite parts of McFred separated, the executive decision has been made to sell Garner.

 

7) Tiemoue Bakayoko to Newcastle
The difference between Newcastle with and without Bruno Guimaraes was laid bare against Wolves, when Sean Longstaff provided the energy but nothing close to the technical quality.

That level of drop-off might have alarmed Eddie Howe into improving his midfield options, with Chelsea legend Tiemoue Bakayoko emerging as an apparently viable alternative.

The waters are muddied somewhat by Bakayoko’s relatively unique situation: he joined AC Milan on a two-year loan in August 2021 but has not made an appearance for them this season and would not be welcomed back at Stamford Bridge anytime soon.

A termination of that Milan deal, and then either another temporary spell at Newcastle – who have kept their two Premier League loans available up to now – or a cancellation of his Chelsea contract ala Ross Barkley, has been tabled. And it is honestly not clear whether he would be a better back-up than Longstaff.

 

6) Cody Gakpo to Southampton
The year started with Cody Gakpo being linked with Liverpool, Manchester City and Bayern Munich. With 15 goals since January, including strikes in Dutch Cup and Johan Cruyff Shield final wins over Ajax to round off last season and kickstart this one respectively, the forward’s list of potential clientele has been downgraded.

Everton, Manchester United and Southampton are thought to have established a mutual admiration for Gakpo, with PSV’s bargaining position significantly weakened by failure to reach the Champions League group stages. It should be stated that they came a damn sight closer than those three Premier League clubs but the chance to add another zero onto his wages might well appeal.

But with Manchester United focusing on a deal for Antony and Everton busy pursuing targets in other positions, Southampton could have a relatively clear run. One offer has already been lodged and rejected and while, in comparison to their other summer signings, Gakpo is a little too old and experienced for Saints at 23 with 169 senior appearances, seven international caps and an Eredivisie winner’s medal, it does make sense. Moussa Djenepo, Adam Armstrong and Moi Elyounoussi have hardly nailed down the left-wing spot between them.

 

5) Yannick Carrasco to Tottenham
It didn’t feel like a true summer window until Yannick Carrasco’s name was mentioned. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic was ticked off a few weeks back and Nottingham Forest came close to hoovering up William Carvalho at one point, so Carrasco completes the set of transfer rumour stalwarts.

It also makes more than a modicum of sense. The Belgian’s versatility to play as a wing-back or winger on either side makes him an absolute managerial dream for Antonio Conte, who might be getting the itch considering his last signing was a fortnight ago.

The move has already been denied in some reliable quarters. Perhaps Fabio Paratici realised that Carrasco is neither Italian nor employed by Juventus. But it has at least spiced things up for supporters who were wrestling with the idea of Daniel James rampaging down the flank.

 

4) Kouadio Kone to Liverpool
With a helping hand from the particularly rotten performance in the middle at Old Trafford, Jurgen Klopp has come to the eventual realisation that it was actually he rather than the children who were wrong.

The Liverpool manager has spent the past few months rejecting any suggestion that Liverpool need midfield reinforcements, but one glance at their squad was enough for most to be convinced. Their eight options in the position include teenager Harvey Elliott and academy graduate Curtis Jones, with the leap in age from the 21-year-old to the next youngest cab off the rank, Naby Keita at 27, proving rather stark.

With the Guinean’s perennial difficulties in fully adapting, Thiago and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s injury concerns and Jordan Henderson and James Milner’s respective ageing processes all providing similar obstacles, the late decision has been made to appease the masses.

But the Reds will not sign anyone – there will be no Denis Suarez or Kim Kallstrom at Anfield to make up the numbers. The shoe must still fit at an affordable price, shrinking their choices down to a select few. Borussia Monchengladbach’s Kouadio Kone, a French youth international with considerable Bundesliga experience, ticks more boxes than most.

 

3) Abdou Diallo to Leicester
“Our recruitment team behind the scenes have done some amazing work and have players lined up if we are able to do anything,” was hardly the news Leicester supporters wanted to hear from Brendan Rodgers after defeat to Chelsea. They might disagree with the appraisal of the club’s scouting network, who admittedly appear to have been caught in an awkward FFP crossfire.

One hopes that Leicester would be “able to do anything” with the many millions they will receive from Wesley Fofana’s eventual sale. The Foxes took their time but have acquiesced to the player’s wishes and should be left with a small fortune to play with.

The reality is that they will only be able to spend a cut of the fee on the next centre-half the elite decide they like the look of in a few years. With the shortlist so limited and time a major factor, it might be better chasing a rich club’s cast-offs rather than trying to procure another team’s starter at such short notice. PSG probably wouldn’t even notice Abdou Diallo has gone.

 

2) Conor Gallagher to Crystal Palace
It felt as though everything was planned and played out perfectly. Conor Gallagher joined Chelsea at the age of eight and thus experienced the full Chelsea curriculum before being allowed to branch out, albeit with a harness attached to ensure his expeditious return.

There was a gradual escalation of loan moves and the midfielder was even allowed to skip the Vitesse chapter of the Stamford Bridge experience. Gallagher instead went to Charlton in a Championship relegation battle, Swansea in a tussle for second-tier promotion, West Brom in a top-flight fight to avoid the drop and then Crystal Palace, lodged firmly in mid-table.

That was the prelude to his grand return this summer as a Chelsea lifer with experience elsewhere. Yet potential suitors have been heartened by his Blues blues: Gallagher was a stoppage-time substitute against Everton; came on late while beating Tottenham in an eventual draw; was substituted after a dizzying hour in defeat to Leeds; and was sent off after half an hour against Leicester.

If a £27m Palace bid doesn’t tempt Chelsea, the lurking Newcastle might be willing to test their resolve before the deadline.

 

1) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Chelsea
For all the derision reserved for their abandoned shadowing of Anthony Gordon, it could be said that Chelsea’s move for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is similarly baffling.

The Blues have, as yet, not accepted that their striker curse cannot be overturned through such basic methods as just signing more players. They could do with a reliable goalscorer, even with Raheem Sterling assuming much of that burden already.

But a 33-year-old on substantial wages offers a short-term answer to a question that Chelsea can afford to mull over: no player has scored more than 20 goals in a season for them since Eden Hazard left, and they’ve won the Champions League, Super Cup and Club World Cup while reaching four other finals in that time.

That is even before noting that Aubameyang failed to score in his last five Premier League starts for Arsenal, who might still have their dossier lying around somewhere.

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