Liverpool make World Cup winner their new transfer priority as Villa eye seven for £290m

Matt Stead
Liverpool targets Alexis Mac Allister and Joao Palhinha

Alexis Mac Allister seems like a decent enough Jude Bellingham rebound for Liverpool, but an ambitious Aston Villa are going absolutely massive this summer.

 

RETURN OF THE MAC
In terms of fuelling a spreading transfer fire, Alexis Mac Allister has poured petrol on speculation linking him to Liverpool.

An ice-cool 99th-minute penalty at the end of a pulsating game to not only beat Man Utd but further edge open the Champions League door for the Reds, who remain four points behind Erik ten Hag’s side having played a game more than those fourth-place occupiers, will only endear Mac Allister to the Reds more.

It is indeed tiresome for Brighton’s brilliance to almost immediately be reduced to their best players being flogged off again but that is the model and it is testament to how phenomenally it is working.

Mac Allister, according to the Liverpool Echo, is now ‘near the top of their transfer shortlist’ and ‘features prominently’ in their midfield succession plan.

Sources at the club are ‘tight-lipped’ on how much any deal would cost but the suggestion is that talks between the two parties are already underway in some form.

Liverpool expect to face competition from Man Utd and Manchester City at the very least, while Ryan Gravenberch, Conor Gallagher and Mason Mount will also be targeted in an ambitious summer transfer window. But Mac Allister is the priority for Klopp and friends.

 

JOAO FACTOR
One midfielder Liverpool might no longer pursue in their post-Jude Bellingham world is Joao Palhinha, considering the prospective costs involved.

Palhinha had emerged as a viable alternative to Real Madrid-bound Bellingham but Football Insider bring two bits of bad news: a £50m valuation and emerging interest from Bayern Munich.

With four years left on his contract and the Portuguese’s role in this Fulham side crucial, 27-year-old Palhinha is not going to be sold on the cheap. Even if ‘the chance to play for one of Europe’s elite sides is likely to be too good to turn down’ for him, the Cottagers are unlikely to care all that much unless the money makes sense.

 

ALEMANY PAYMENTS
Aston Villa will have watched Brighton’s win over Man Utd with just as much vested interest as Liverpool. Unai Emery’s side are 8th and European qualification remains a viable outcome from their ludicrous season.

Champions League, Europa League or Conference League football would undoubtedly change their transfer plans to varying degrees but it seems as though they want to make a splash in the market regardless.

Not coincidentally, Barcelona’s departing director of football Mateu Alemany is expected to join soon.

And there is rampant speculation as to how much of a statement he will want to make upon his appointment. The Daily Telegraph suggest ‘ambitious moves’ for Ferran Torres and Dusan Vlahovic would be explored, in conjunction with the pursuit of Kieran Tierney.

Torres would likely cost something close to the £50m Barcelona spent to pry him from Manchester City, while Vlahovic has been valued at around £80m in certain circles despite his Juventus struggles.

Reported Man Utd target Dusan Vlahovic celebrates his goal

It is not known whether either would be tempted by Villa but Emery and Alemany’s presence would surely help.

As for Tierney, it seems likely that the left-back’s time at Arsenal is over after falling down the pecking order, with some reports that the Gunners would want £30m as Newcastle also circle.

More players in ambitious Villa’s sights

Reports in Spain throw further names into the Villa ring: Andreas Christensen, Nico Williams and Franck Kessie.

Fichajes claims that those players have been ‘recommended’ by Alemany to Emery. Christensen has suffered with injuries this season but ‘could be available’ due to Barcelona’s continued financial problems. Williams, the Athletic Bilbao forward, has most recently been linked with Liverpool. Kessie might fancy some more regular game time, having started just five La Liga matches this season.

It is difficult to nail down a price for Christensen, but Williams has a £45m release clause and Kessie was recently valued at £26.3m or so.

Then there’s Harvey Barnes, a Spurs and Villa target who the Daily Mail say Leicester would want £60m for.

Those four, Torres, Vlahovic and Tierney would subsequently cost about £290m, all told. Spare change for Villa.