Sunday 22 July 2018

John Aldridge: Liverpool should put in a cheeky £40m offer for an old target this month

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp found the question amusing
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp found the question amusing

John Aldridge

Liverpool made a real statement of intent when they paid £75m to sign Virgil van Dijk - and now they should put in a sneaky £40m offer to try and get Alexis Sanchez out of Arsenal.

After a valuable 2-1 win at Burnley yesterday came with a dramatic late goal from Ragnar Klavan, there is a real feel good factor around Liverpool at the moment and Klopp and the club have to make sure they keep that momentum flowing.

The absence of Philippe Coutinho from the Liverpool team yesterday fuelled rumours that he may be on his way to Barcelona sooner than we expected, but that would not be so much of a concern if they could nick a player like Sanchez.

I’m a big fan of the Chilean forward who turned down a move to Liverpool in favour of joining Arsenal in the summer of 2014, amid suggestions he did not want to live in the north of England.

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Speculation surrounding Alexis Sanchez shows no sign of abating

Well, if he is keen to join Manchester City now, that stance has clearly changed and maybe he would be tempted by a move to a Liverpool side that he would fit into so easily.

Sanchez is out of contract at Arsenal next summer and while Manchester City appear to be favourites to sign him, Liverpool should try their chances of getting him in this month’s transfer window.

If Liverpool could grab Sanchez now, it would be a major coup and then Liverpool fans would not be too concerned if Coutinho left for Barcelona.

The absence of the Liverpool No.10 from the squad that travelled to yesterday’s game at Burnley will fuel rumours that he is leaving the club this month, but I hope that is not what we see unfolding in the next few days.

While I expect Coutinho to leave Liverpool at some point in 2018, there is no logic in the transfer taking place now as far as I can see.

Why go now when he can’t play in the Champions League and they are all-but certain to win the title anyway?

Surely he would want to play in the latter stages of the Champions League with Liverpool and leave the club on a high note at the end of this season, but you just don’t know what to expect in football these days.

It would be a real kick in the teeth for Liverpool fan if Coutinho goes not because everyone is on such a high after the Virgil van Dijk signing and if it turns out the club were merely using Barcelona’s money to buy him, it puts a new light on that deal.

My view on the Coutinho situation is simple; he clearly wants to go to Barcelona and I can understand why because all South American players dream about playing for that club.

Despite that reality, Liverpool were right to resist Barcelona’s offers to sign him last summer and even after the player handed in a transfer request, they were right to reject offers that were in excess of £100m.

As was the case when a similar story happened with Luis Suarez and Barcelona a couple of years ago, Liverpool asked the player to give them one more season and then he would be allowed to leave.

Something similar may well have been arranged with Coutinho, but imagine a scenario that sees him move to Barcelona for £120m and Liverpool picking up Sanchez for £40m now.

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Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho comes with a high price tag

It would be a lot of money to pay for a player who is out of contract in a few months time, but it could keep him away from Manchester City and give Liverpool the ideal replacement for Coutinho.

What the Van Dijk transfer confirmed is that we should all now ignore the figures in these crazy transfers and just accept that for now at least, they are an obscene part of football we have to accept.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admitted he was uncomfortable paying such a huge fee for to get Van Dijk from Southampton, but he is trying to achieve success in an era of the game that has been polluted by money from oil-rich investors have unlimited funds to invest in a bid to promote their cause.

As I mentioned in my Herald column last week, Van Dijk was over-priced, but he could be a vital piece of the Liverpool jigsaw, that is so close to being completed.

To get the final few players they need to build a trophy-winning side, they will need to pay the crazy money that has now become the norm to sign a player that may not even be able to kick the ball in a straight line with his right and left foot.

Average players and their agents will cash in with some transfers that are impossible to justify for regular fans who earn a basic wage and watch the game, but this is where we are now.

The game’s authorities should have done something to halt these sugar-daddy owners in their tracks when they came up with their Financial Fair Play plan, but that idea has gone by the wayside and it has become an obscene free-for-all in the transfer market.

Clubs not backed by owners financially fuelled by oil money are struggling to keep pace, but Liverpool showed what is possible by stopping Man City getting hold of Van Dijk.

Now I’d love to see them get Sanchez from under City’s noses as well.

Read John Aldridge in The Herald every Tuesday and the Sunday World every weekend.

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