Sunday 25 February 2018

Liverpool transfer talk: Kop make contact with Barca defender and close in on Wijnaldum

Jeremy Mathieu and (right) Georginio Wijnaldum
Jeremy Mathieu and (right) Georginio Wijnaldum

Chris Bascombe

Liverpool have made contact with Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu as they aim to solve their defensive crisis, according to the Sun.

With the departures of Kolo Toure and Martin Skrtel and the injuries to trio Joel Matip, Mamadou Sakho and Joe Gomez all injured, Dejan Lovren is currently the only fit defender at Anfield.

Matheiu, the experienced Frechman, has been lined up as a viable option by Jurgen Klopp, who will be looking to capitalise on the fact that his days at the Nou Camp appear to be numbered following the summer signing of Samuel Umtiti.

Meanwhile, Klopp's men have joined the race to sign Georginio Wijnaldum and are confident they can strike a deal with Newcastle United for the coveted midfielder.

The German coach is also closing in on another centre-half having agreed an initial £3.5m deal for the Estonian Ragnar Klavan from Augsburg.

Klopp is hoping both players will be at Anfield before this week's trip to the United States.

Danny Ings scores Liverpool’s first goal against Wigan. Photo: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters
Danny Ings scores Liverpool’s first goal against Wigan. Photo: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters

After being frustrated in his attempt to lure Poland's Piotr Zielinski, Klopp's attentions have switched to the Dutch international Wijnaldum.

Wijnaldum is attracting the attention of several Premier League teams as it seems he is more likely to leave the North East rather than join their promotion bid. The 25-year-old moved to Newcastle only last summer for £14.5m.

Newcastle have asked for £27m, but Liverpool are confident they can settle on a deal. They will be hoping to pay nearer £20m and there is some optimism on Merseyside that talks could advance significantly over the next few days.

Liverpool head to the US on Thursday. Although he has already recruited four players, Klopp has made clear his desire to add more and he has the financial resources to do so.

Defender Klavan needs only to complete the formalities of his move from Bundesliga side Augsburg before heading to Merseyside.

The 30-year-old featured in both Europa League fixtures against Liverpool last season, a tie Klopp's side won 1-0 on aggregate. Klavan will be signed primarily as a back-up option - a direct replacement for the departed Kolo Toure.

Klopp is short of defenders heading into the new season, with Martin Skrtel sold to Fenerbahce and both Mamadou Sakho and Joe Gomez suffering Achilles injuries. Joel Matip has been playing with a minor ankle injury in pre-season.

It is possible Klopp may even add another centre-back to act as an understudy, although that is more likely to be a youngster bought to develop alongside Gomez.

Klopp knows Klavan well from German football. He moved to Germany in 2012 and played well over 100 games for Augsburg. He previously played for Al Alkmaar, where new Everton coach Ronald Koeman was among his former managers.

For the past three seasons, Klavan has been named Estonia's player of the year, claiming over 100 international caps.

Left-back is another priority position for Klopp with Alberto Moreno the only recognised senior player in the role, but Liverpool have had problems agreeing a fee with Leicester City for Ben Chilwell.

Klopp's pre-season schedule continued yesterday at Wigan, where Philippe Coutinho was making his first appearance of the summer. Coutinho struck the woodwork twice post during his 45 minutes of action in Liverpool's 2-0 win, with Danny Ings and 16-year-old Ben Woodburn getting the goals. Woodburn has scored in consecutive friendlies.

Klopp revealed the teenager, who just completed his GCSE exams, would be unable to join the senior squad in the US because he has to focus on going back to school.

Liverpool's England and Belgium contingent who featured in Euro 2016 will join the squad for the tour, but Joe Allen and Emre Can have been given extra time off.

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