Wednesday 21 March 2018

Liverpool hoping to spend up to £140m in final days of transfer window

Jurgen Klopp wants to sign Thomas Lemar (inset) and Virgil van Dijk (right)
Jurgen Klopp wants to sign Thomas Lemar (inset) and Virgil van Dijk (right)

Chris Bascombe

Liverpool are hoping to spend as much as £140 million in the final days of the transfer window as manager Jurgen Klopp makes a late push to add elite-level quality to his squad.

Talks are ongoing with Monaco for winger Thomas Lemar, but it will be a tough negotiation before Thursday’s deadline to prize the midfielder in a package worth around £70m.

It is also a race against time with Lemar in the France squad facing Holland on Thursday. That effectively gives Liverpool only 24 hours to compete a deal.

Liverpool have also been monitoring Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s situation at Arsenal. If the player’s preference is a move to Anfield, Liverpool would match Chelsea’s £35m bid and he would be a viable alternative to Lemar. But there is an added complication because Arsenal are understood to favour Oxlade-Chamberlain heading to Stamford Bridge over Anfield as they perceive Liverpool as a more direct rival for a Champions League spot.

A revival of interest in Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk is also on the agenda, but only if the Saints decide cashing in is the most appropriate course of action.

Despite the controversy in June when Liverpool apologised for a “misunderstanding” amid allegations of an illegal approach for the player, relations between the Anfield and Southampton hierarchy are cordial. Liverpool will not make any unsolicited bids for the player.

Southampton could decide to do business with someone else, but Liverpool are prepared to outbid any rival if invited and recognise it would cost a minimum of £70m to recruit the Dutch defender. Securing Van Dijk would require a sensitive diplomatic mission as much as a change of position from Southampton.

As well as new additions, Liverpool are also working on outgoings. On Tuesday they rejected a £25m bid from Crystal Palace for Mamadou Sakho.

Palace chairman Steve Parish offered an initial £22m with a further £3m in add-ons, but the Merseyside club are standing firm on a £30m valuation.

Palace have now made three bids for the French defender, who is keen to return to Selhurst Park where he enjoyed a successful loan spell last season.

Palace are not the only club to express interest in Sakho, as both West Bromwich Albion and Leicester City are also ready to bid if no deal is struck.

Liverpool insisted they will not sell for less than £30m since making Sakho available for transfer.

Sakho has not played for Liverpool since suffering a Uefa suspension and exile from football on false grounds having been wrongly informed he had taken an illegal substance in 2016.

He missed the Europa League Final and European championships before being allowed to return to domestic football a year ago.

On his comeback, he irked manager Klopp will his ill-discipline and lack of fitness, and was banished from the first-team squad.

Klopp was unwilling to offer a way back and Sakho moved to Palace on loan last January, assisting the club’s survival efforts before picking up a knee injury.

Despite Liverpool’s search for a new centre-back, Sakho has not been under consideration and has been training with the club’s Under-23 squad.

As well as Sakho, winger Lazar Markovic is expected to move on. Watford have been in discussions for the player since Marco Silva was appointed.

Silva worked with Markovic at Hull last season. Discussions are ongoing with a loan move to Vicarage Road looking the most likely, although that may not go through until deadline day as Liverpool would prefer to sell the Serbian international.

Online Editors

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