As soon as Jurgen Klopp confirmed he hadn’t made any agreement with Borussia Dortmund not to sign any of their players it was inevitable Liverpool were going to get linked with just about everyone at the Westfalenstadion, but who – if any – are the likely targets?
We’ll start with the big dog, the one everyone wants and potentially BVB’s best player. I’d say anyone’s hopes of landing Reus in January were pretty slim – he’s under contract until 2019 for starters and Dortmund won’t want to let him get away.
There may be hope at the end of the season but with Euro 2016 around the corner he probably won’t fancy a move in the winter, having missed out on Germany’s World Cup win in 2014 through injury.
My gut feeling is Klopp probably won’t be too interested in bringing in any forwards in the New Year. The Liverpool attack has looked decent since he’s taken charge and Daniel Sturridge came back with a bang by hitting a brace in that 6-1 hammering of Southampton on Wednesday, providing he is back after a few false dawns. Throw Divock Origi into the equation, multiply by a bit of Christian Benteke, Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Ibe (and Danny Ings next summer of course when his injury nightmare is over) and it all equals something that could be quite special long-term with a bit more work, I might be wrong of course and if the right target becomes available things change but I don’t think it is his priority.
The Daily Star reckon Liverpool could be in for Reus and Hummels, a move which could cost a combined fee of £56million. I wouldn’t even use the Daily Star to wipe my arse, it’s a bit coarse for one thing and also I don’t want to pay for it.
Hummels is a weird one because as a German international and a big name in Dortmund he’ll cost a premium price. But his form of late has been questionable and he only has a year and a half on his deal – normally the point at which prices start to tumble. I get my contract details from transfermarkt.co.uk incidentally, who have Hummels’ price at £24.5m and the fee for Reus at £31.5m, which gives you an idea of where the Star get their prices from. They have Gareth Bale at £56m and Lionel Messi at £84m, make of that what you will*.
But I’ve gone off track as I do think Hummels will cost a bit of a wedge regardless of his form and contract, such is his reputation. I wonder if that makes him such a great target unless BVB will accept a cut-price because £24.5m seems ludicrous, Klopp knows all about him of course and that could be the difference but you’d never want to be paying anywhere near that figure.
Subotic plays in the same position as Hummels so one or the other won’t be getting signed in the same window, certainly not January that’s for sure. This time it’s the Independent that have suggested this one, at least as far back as I can be bothered to delve. They reckon his value would be around £15m (transfermarkt don’t by the way at £9.8m, which at least shows a bit of thought and reasoning from the Indy if nothing else) and that sounds about right for a 26-year-old with two years left on his deal in the winter where prices tend to be a bit higher.
Gundogan is a quality player and potentially the one of these four that could improve Liverpool the most. The versatile midfielder’s situation is essentially up in the air as he’ll have just a year left on his current deal at the end of the season – and that’s after signing an extension last summer. He referred to Liverpool as a “good team” with “a great coach” to Bild recently which obviously fueled the rumours of an Anfield switch but he also cooled any talk of a January exit in the same interview.
“I believe everybody here at Dortmund wants to be back in the Champions League next season and anything else would be a major disappointment.
But that does not mean that I will definitely leave if we don’t qualify. I’m not that kind of person. I would already have left last summer had that been one of the criteria for me.”
There is also the small matter of other interest in Gundogan. Mundo Deportivo claimed Barcelona had some kind of pre-contract agreement with the dynamic playmaker earlier in the year but that may well have been a case of premature specjaculation. Some of Europe’s big guns will be keen if BVB do decide to sell and any player would find the chance to play alongside Lionel Messi at Camp Nou hard to turn down, regardless of his admiration for Klopp.
There are loads of BVB players I could have mentioned but I’ll leave it there. The problem with stories linking managers with players from their former clubs is the chances are whoever is writing them has no real idea. For one thing Klopp has no need to send any scouts to Dortmund – he knows all about the squad already – so without any word from inside Liverpool it is all guesswork.
Klopp will sign players from the Bundesliga; he knows it too well not to make use of that knowledge, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be from his old club. He may dip into Dortmund’s youth ranks and pick out a future gem no one has even considered to link yet. He may go for someone on the fringes like Jakub Błaszczykowski, who impressed during Klopp’s time with BVB but now finds himself out on loan at Fiorentina.
It is also worth noting that Klopp ran a tight ship during his seven years with the German giants and in the last five years only once did he spend significantly during the season, in 2014-15 in his final year in charge. In most he either made a small profit or a small loss on overall expenditure** in terms of both players coming in and departing. Klopp has a great record of unearthing talent and getting the best out of guys who have been struggling elsewhere, this is a manager who signed Robert Lewandowski from Lech Poznan for under €5m and got Shinji Kagawa playing well again after a fairly demoralising spell at Manchester United. He will probably seek to run Liverpool the same way, which is why talk of a £50m-plus double deal for Reus and Hummels seems sketchy to me.
*This should not be seen as a slight on transfermarkt.co.uk. It is an excellent service for contract lengths, sometimes I will check them out but generally they’re bang on – they are for Hummels and Reus. They have some really useful bits of information but the price is just a ballpark figure, we all know it isn’t an exact science and it is sloppy reporting to just use their price and quote it in a speculative transfer piece.
**This information came from transfermarkt, I told you it was a great service.