“The name’s Gerrard, Jordan Gerrard,” also known as “The American Gerrard!” You know about the “Welsh Pirlo”, you’ve seen the “Egyptian Messi”, but you never knew about the American Gerrard! When the American Scouser needed a transfer expert I was there to smash it in from long range with an absolute belter. What a hit son, what a hit!
Typically in the first paragraph of all my articles I waste a few paragraphs of your life talking about current events within the Liverpool fandom. Today is no different. I would like to tell you a quick story and I promise it is relevant.
It was May 1st 2019. I had just left my local pub after witnessing my beloved Liverpool get spanked in the first leg against Barcelona. My dad and I had snuck away from the job site at lunch to watch our favorite team come against one of the best teams in Europe. We left heart broken and finding it hard to imagine moving on to the next round.
A friend of mine, a fellow red I had known since the 2nd grade, was currently fighting brain cancer. He had seen the match and text me afterwards asking what I thought. I thought we were fucked. Just knowing what he was going through, the fight my friend was facing, I could not live with myself telling him to give up hope.
So I told him the Anfield faithful would boo Suarez so bad he would end up getting a red card and Liverpool would win the return leg 4-0.
At least one of those things came true. The one that mattered. I was positive despite overwhelming doubt about the future and in the end I was more then pleased with the results. Ever since that day I have tried to approach every Liverpool match with optimism, partly in honor of my friend who eventually passed away. He lived to see us win number six though. We face another one of these moments on Wednesday when Real Madrid come to Anfield.
Even if I did not approach every match with optimism, the one thing I absolutely love about football is every dog has it’s day. In any given match there can be an upset. You can go an entire season undefeated and still get knocked off your run by relegation bound Watford. David can take a sling shot and turn Goliah into one eyed Carl from Walking Dead.
Liverpool can beat Real Madrid. We can storm our way back into the top four. I may look foolish on Thursday morning or at the end of the season but being a red is all about having faith, we even have a song about it.
So anyways without any further ado, moving past my amazing Jurgen Klopp-esque halftime talk that has re inspired you as a fan, let us get to the transfer rumors pestering our papers and various social media feeds this month. I go over the stories linking Livepool to Ibrahima Konate, I discuss the long term future of Ozan Kabak and we talk about a few potential Georginio Wijnaldum replacements.
Konate not FIT for Liverpool
News broke out a few weeks ago that Liverpool intended to meet R.B. Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate’s release clause. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is believed to be a long time admirer of the center back and sees him as the perfect player to partner Virgil Van Dijk when he returns from injury.
Ibrahima Konate actually originally started his youth career as an attack minded player for Paris FC in France. He was struggling for first-team minutes within the youth setup. As a result, he began to experiment playing in different positions on the field, eventually finding himself in a defensive midfielder role. It was in the defensive role that he began to display his first true signs of dominance and defensive talent.
Konate was soon scouted and acquired by the Sochaux academy where he would make his destined change to center back. In 2017 Konate made his breakthrough start for Sochaux’s seniors in a League Cup quarter final against eventual Ligue 1 title winners Monaco in 2017. His performance put his name on the map in a game that would go all the way to a penalty shoot out with then Domestic leaders Monaco. R.B. Leipzig made the move for Konate soon after.
Many who have worked with Konate have noted his excellent sense of football IQ and positional awareness. Which one might argue make him a better defender then his more hyped center back partner Upamecano.
Konate stands 6’4 and can be described as a defender with an above average pace rating. These days the top teams need a pacey defense, more so Liverpool who often operate with a high back line. That same back line can be exposed when your defenders lack pace which unfortunately has been demonstrated by current Liverpool defender Nat Phillips several times this season as he plays emergency stand in for the defensive duo of Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez.
Originally Konate’s release clause was believed to be around $48 million but Bild’s head of football Christian Falk says the release clause could be as low as $40 million. This week Anfield Central report Liverpool have already agreed terms with Konate, with the French defender accepting wages around $116,000 per week.
Although he would be earning less then current Liverpool defend Joel Matip, Konate would still be seeing a 150% increase on his current wages he receives at R.B. Leipzig in the Bundesliga. It is rumoured that the defender has already undergone a medical with Liverpool and that all is left to do is for the club’s sporting director, Michael Edwards, to negotiate a fee with the Bundesliga side. Liverpool are believed to be keen on negotiating a lower price or payment plan with performance related bonuses due to the coronavirus pandemic affecting their finances.
It all sounds great right?
There are concerns about the 21-year-old’s injury history, with the defender having suffered muscle and ankle injuries this season. As well as a hip flexor that required surgery last summer. Despite the speculation and interest surrounding Konate, he is yet to really become a regular starter under R.B. Leipzig manager Julian Naglesmann. He has only made 11 appearances in the Bundesliga this season with just five of them being starts the rest substitute appearances. The previous season was not much better as Konate was plagued with a long term injury that limited him to eight appearances all season.
So you are telling me that Liverpool want to sign a center back that has had his share of recent injury problems after losing their three first choice center backs to season long injuries? They are going to fix their injury woes with a player that just spent an entire season injured?
Putting aside Konate’s injury history he seems a perfect Liverpool target. When he is fit he looks like he has the potential to be a world class defender. If Liverpool are really targeting this guy they must have some kind of mind blowing medical analyst or data proving his injuries will not become a consistent occurrence.
Originally the rumors came from a more reliable source within the Liverpool Echo. James Pearce even shared or retweeted the article but it did not come from the legendary Liverpool transfer guru himself. I am going to risk sounding unpopular and say I have my own personal questions over whether this transfer happens.
To add to the doubts, The Times are reporting Leipzig expect the full payment of the transfer fee right away and will not accept a payment plan or a fee payed over the course of several seasons as Liverpool have become accustomed to offering. If Liverpool want Konate they will have to pay the full fee up front. That is something I just do not see Liverpool doing.
Kabak not going Back
90min and a few other sources are reporting Liverpool intend to activate Ozan Kabak‘s $25 million clause to sign the defender permanently. Jurgen Klopp is believed to be impressed with the young defender’s progress and quick adaptation within the Liverpool squad and has requested the player remain at Anfield beyond his loan spell.
Kabak arrived on transfer deadline day in January on an six month loan with an option to buy the defender at the end of the season from Schalke. According to insiders Kabak was initially short of confidence given the sheer number of goals his previous team Schalke had conceded in the first half of the season but he slowly began to gain reassurance under Jurgen Klopp.
Schalke had originally told the Reds they wanted to know their final decision by mid-May. The German outfit are looking likely to suffer relegation and will most likely end up selling some of their current players this summer. There is a rumor that Newcastle had a deal in place to sign Kabak in January before Liverpool hijacked the move. Inter Milan were also credited with a serious interest in signing Kabak during the winter transfer window. So there is believed to be some interest in Kabak if Liverpool decided against signing him.
Personally I do not think there was ever really a question within the Liverpool hierarchy and FSG over whether Liverpool would sign Kabak. I think they wanted him permanently in January but they could not afford him so Michael Edwards was able to sort out the loan move with an option to buy so the payment would be stalled.
With Liverpool suffering a defensive crisis this season and questions remaining over the future durability of their players that have suffered long term injury, many transfer experts are refusing to rule out the possibility of another center back being signed in addition to Kabak’s move being made permanent.
Koopmeiners flying the Coop
With the loss of Georginio Wijnaldum looking more and more likely as the days unfold, Liverpool are being linked with a number of midfield replacements. AZ Alkmaar’s 23-year-old captain, Teun Koopmeiners, is being linked as a like for like upgrade on the departing dutch midfielder. Teun Koopmeiners is a left footed Dutch player who has made 141 appearances for the Eredivisie side, primarily as a holding midfielder. He’s very versatile sometimes filling in at centre half and has one senior Dutch cap. Calciomercato in Italy and Diario AS in Spain are linking the reds with a move for the midfielder. Liverpool are said to be one of many potential suitors along with Roma, Inter Milan and Sevilla.
Koopmeiners could cost around $24 million with his current deal running til 2023. His recent performances for AZ Alkmaar have even led to some direct comparisons with Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos. He is still only 23 but already AZ captain. He initially joined the club at the age of 11 and progressed through the youth ranks all the way up to the first-team. He made his senior debut in 2017 as a teenager and has been a regular in the first team ever since.
Koopmeiners also made his Netherlands debut in 2020 in October and was called up during all three international matches in the fall. He did however decline the call up last month in order to play at the Under-21 European Championship finals instead.
Koopmeiners is typically described as a defensive midfielder. He could provide a needed backup to Fabinho and Jordan Henderson. Koopmeiners addition at Liverpool would ensure Thiago a more forward free role. Despite operating in deeper areas more often then not, Koopmeiner’s goal stats are impressive for a defensive midfielder. This is mainly due to the fact he is the penalty taker at AZ but he also has a talent for free kicks and set pieces. Seven of his 15 Eredivisie goals this season have come from the penalty spot. He has also scored two direct free kicks, and six goals from open play.
It should also be pointed out that Wijnaldum has not generally been a goalscoring midfielder for Liverpool scoring only two goals this season. Koopmeiners may not exactly be a like for like replacement for Wijnaldum but he could still be viewed as an exciting option adding a new dynamic to an important position within Jurgen Klopp’s squad.
Berges the Word
If you are someone who has been following Liverpool’s transfer targets and potential signings for a few years then you probably know of Liverpool’s long term interest in Sheffield United midfielder Sander Berge. Back in 2019 Berge impressed while playing for Genk against Liverpool in the Champions league group stage. He went on to join Sheffield United in January of 2020 in a $30 million deal. A year and a half later, and the now 23-year-old is set to drop down to the Championship with the relegation fated side.
Georginio Wijnaldum’s impending departure really opens up the flood gates on midfielder target rumors. I wanted to talk about a midfielder we were being linked with that had a realistic chance of not only being signed but also fitting our system and replacing Wijnaldum.
Wijnaldum’s role at Liverpool is to act as a midfield safety and to retain possession allowing the full-backs to do the creative work. Berge is similarly skilled at dribbling the ball and ball retention and it would make sense that the Reds would look to replace Wijnaldum with a player that has those same attributes.
Berge’s role at Sheffield United is to be the energetic, box-to-box midfield leader who contributes to both the attacking and defensive facets of the game. Berge is in the 90% percentile for touches in the opposition penalty with 2.42 per 90 minutes. Even in a team with problems scoring goals, he can add a creative difference to the match.
One key consideration for Klopp and the Liverpool recruitment team are a player’s abilities off the ball. Berge is proactive, hard-working, and efficient against the ball and this is sure to tick several boxes on Liverpool’s wish list.
Berge is a midfield monster standing at 6’5. He uses his height well and wins 75% of his aerial duels. That is better then 75% of midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues. Berge looks to pressure opponents regularly, registering 18.97 pressures per 90 which is better than 69% of midfielders in the top European leagues. Berge could be an ideal signing for a team like Liverpool that likes to press high up the field. With his height it would be like having a brick wall run at you.
The Reds have suffered in the set-piece department this season. They have only scored six to date compared to 17 last season. It is understandable without the height of the injured Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip. Sander Berge does not exactly attack every header from a set-piece but his height alone could distract and pester opposition defenders making space for others. Additionally, having such height is obviously beneficial when it comes to defending corners and free kicks.
Liverpool have a habit of signing players from relegated teams. I have personally spoken about this many times. I think Sander Berge could be a player Liverpool realistically target in the summer window. Berge’s height alone is a reason to sign him. Virgil can not win every header especially if he is injured all season. We need another man mountain to join the mentality monsters.
A Klopp hug for Odegaard
Everyone saw Jurgen Klopp cuddling up and giggling with Martin Odegaard after the Arsenal match. Of course this stoked the rumor fire. Suddenly every facebook expert said Odegaard was coming to Liverpool.
Back in 2015 Odegaard was hot property. He burst onto the scene playing for Stromsgodset in Norway. He was quickly described as a wonder kid and every team under the sun wanted him. Liverpool of course were no different and he even spent a week on trial with the reds team under then manager Brendan Rodgers. Eventually he decided to join Real Madrid.
Odegaard joined Real Madrid from Stromsgodset amid much hype and fanfare in January 2015. However, since then, he has yet to establish himself as a regular for Zidane’s side. Last season Odegaard gained attention again after a successful loan at Real Sociedad. Somehow Odegaard found himself at the bottom of the pecking order for Real Madrid once again, and was loaned out to Arsenal this January for the remainder of the season.
Odegaard has made 13 appearances for Arsenal, with two goals to his name. The North London club appear to be keen to retain the player on a permanent basis this summer as a long-term replacement for the creative output of Mesut Ozil.
According to Spanish outlet AS, Norwegian midfielder Martin Odegaard would have no problem making the switch to Liverpool FC over the summer.
The Norwegian captain is a known supporter of the Reds, and was spotted being quite friendly with Jurgen Klopp after the game. It makes sense that the youngster is the type of player that the Reds would track, and if Real Madrid decide to sell him, Liverpool may just be better set to put in a better offer than Arsenal would. But would Martin Odegaard really fit in at Liverpool?
Personally I do not think Martin Odegaard would exactly compliment our current playing style. He operates best in an attacking role best described as a center attacking midfielder or deep center forward tucked behind the main striker. Liverpool rely on wingers Mane and Salah for their attacking contributions and often funnel the ball out wide. More often their creativity comes from the advanced full backs Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander Arnold making things happen from the wide areas of the pitch.
Odegaard is more central with his creativity, working best in a more advanced central role feeding balls forward. He is really not a complete midfielder with his defensive abilities leaving room for desire. In other words he can not press for shit so he can not play the false nine or provide the defensive prowess needed within our midfield three.
Besides that Liverpool recently signed Thiago Alcantara as a player viewed as someone to provide creativity in the middle.
Odegaard would not exactly walk into Liverpool’s starting 11. He is by no means guaranteed a starting place at Anfield. At this stage of his career, the 22-year old needs to be playing regular first-team football to develop further as a player. Sitting on the bench at Liverpool would not help him. So maybe he is better off at Arsenal who need a direct replacement for Mesut Ozil.
I think the rumors are simply just rumors and Liverpool are not interested in signing Martin Odegaard this summer. He turned us down once and we will let that be his mistake.
I am Jordan Gerrard and as always I thank you for reading!