Liverpool are set to target another midfielder this summer as talks continue with Al Ittihad over the transfer of Fabinho.
The Brazilian is expected to leave Anfield after five years with the Reds as the revamp of Jurgen Klopp’s midfield continues.
Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai have both arrived from Brighton and Leipzig respectively, but Fabinho’s departure represents another challenge for Jorg Schmadtke and his recruitment team.
Liverpool will need to sign a new number six capable of playing directly into their midfield, no easy task. So who should they sign? Our authors speak their mind..
READ MORE: Fabinho transfer latest as Liverpool and Al-Ittihad continue talks over £40m
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‘Palhinha certainly wouldn’t need much persuasion’
Ian Doyle: Liverpool no doubt believed they had sorted out their most important midfield business in time for the start of pre-season and any further arrivals represented a bit of forward planning.
Now, however, the prospect of losing Fabinho has changed all that. And that means the Reds have a simple choice – do they stick to the plan and aim for a long-term successor, or do they pursue a more immediate replacement?
It’s possible they could do both with the signing of preferred target Romeo Lavia from Southampton, although that would put a lot on the shoulders of a 19-year-old with minimal Premier League experience.
And while Lavia – or a player with a similar profile – will remain on the wanted list, if the Reds opt for a more proven signing, they would do well to chase Fulham’s Joao Palhinha.
Certainly, the Portugal international made a huge impression since moving to Craven Cottage last season – setting the tone with his opening day 2-2 display at home to Liverpool – and has sufficient experience at the top level.
He has spent almost his entire career playing in the defensive midfield role and his numbers provide convincing evidence of more than being able to do a job for the Reds.
The problems, of course, are his age – Palhinha turned 28 last week – and the fact that Fulham would have a fair whack for his signature, having rejected a £45m bid from West Ham on Monday. But if Liverpool can stare down the Hammers with a slightly higher offer, Palhinha certainly wouldn’t need much persuasion to come to Anfield.
‘Go big and get Florentino Luis’
Joe Rimmer: It was always going to be difficult for Liverpool to turn down £40m for Fabinho, but make no mistake, this is a huge test for Jorg Schmadtke.
Liverpool’s sporting director has his work cut out for him to replace a player as experienced as the Brazilian, who plays in a somewhat unique position.
Indeed, defensive midfielders are not easy to come by and when they do move, they tend to cost a lot of money. Look at Declan Rice or Enzo Fernandez, both players have cost over £100m in the last six months. Casemiro, meanwhile, cost Manchester United £70m when he joined them last summer. He was 30 at the time.
This means that Liverpool will not find a cheap option to replace Fabinho. Even the likes of Palhinha and Romeo Lavia have big price tags attached to them.
That’s why I want to see Liverpool go big and get someone of the highest quality, even if it costs them a pretty penny. With £40m for Fabinho plus his wages, the Reds should go for someone like Florentino Luis.
The Portuguese youngster looks set to be the next exciting talent to emerge from Benfica and ranks as one of the best in his position in terms of long-range pass completion, tackles and interceptions.
With a release clause of £103m, he wouldn’t come cheap, although Liverpool could negotiate it down, but he would provide an exciting long-term option to succeed Fabinho.
‘Ibrahim Sangare is a credible option’
You are the Guy: If Liverpool were considering a third summer signing, they clearly need to have a firm focus on one now.
Fabinho’s looming departure in midfield poses a problem for Jurgen Klopp’s midfield. Before the news of Al Ittihad’s firm interest in the Brazilian, there was already a need for backup for the former Monaco man. Now he has to be completely replaced.
The problem is that there aren’t many defensive midfielders out there and more importantly, ones that are both available and match Fabinho in terms of quality. But now Liverpool have been forced into action.
Southampton midfielder Romeo Lavia has been a player of interest throughout the transfer window and, as cover, he is a viable option to replace the 29-year-old. But his lack of experience in his professional career could call into question the credibility to be established as a bonafide starter for Liverpool from August.
Ibrahim Sangare has been a player linked with both Liverpool and a Premier League move in recent seasons. This summer, Nottingham Forest were among those trying to sign the PSV Eindhoven midfielder.
For Liverpool, a 25-year-old with over 130 appearances in the Eredivisie, 199 of them as a defensive midfielder, seems a credible option given the importance of the role.
Forest have reportedly already approached the Dutch club for the midfielder with a price tag of up to £30m. In the current climate of overpriced midfielders, the opportunity to sign a player under £50m, with the experience he has, cannot be dismissed.