Premier League • England

Liverpool backed to sign Bukayo Saka or Jarrod Bowen after laughing off link to Chelsea target

Bukayo Saka celebrating

Liverpool chiefs reportedly laughed off speculation linking them to a potential Sadio Mane replacement, with a former Red urging them to raid Arsenal or West Ham instead.

Sadio Mane will reportedly make his desire to leave Liverpool clear in the coming days. Fabrizio Romano was among a whole host of respected journalists who have claimed the Senegalese wants out of Anfield. However, the Reds are expected to play hardball over any exit.

Indeed, the Athletic reported the Reds will demand around £42.5m for his signature. Bayern Munich are in pole position at present, though Liverpool’s valuation will test their resolve.

One school of thought suggested Luis Diaz may have been signed to offset any potential Mane exit down the line. However, the Guardian stressed Liverpool want a new replacement lined up before Mane can walk.

One player who could ease the blow of losing Mane is Ousmane Dembele. The Frenchman, 25, will become a free agent on June 30 upon expiry of his Barcelona contract.

Dembele has been heavily linked with both Liverpool and Chelsea. Indeed, reports from Spain suggested Liverpool chiefs had made contact with Dembele’s representatives.

However, that notion – along with Liverpool’s interest – has now been dismissed.

When speaking on Spanish radio, journalists Sique Rodriguez and Bruno Alemany insisted Liverpool’s higher-ups laughed when made aware of the stories. Furthermore, it’s claimed the Reds have no interest in signing Dembele this summer.

“Big possibility” of signing Bowen or Saka

Yet with the future of Mohamed Salah also in question, former Reds left-back Jose Enrique has urged Jurgen Klopp to swoop for either Bukayo Saka or Jarrod Bowen.

The Arsenal and West Ham aces both operate in Salah’s position on the right wing. The Egyptian has reaffirmed he’ll remain at Anfield next season, though that could be his last if a new contract isn’t signed.

“We definitely need a back-up for Trent Alexander-Arnold,” said Enrique when detailing Liverpool’s transfer needs (via the Liverpool Echo).

“Trent will start so we need a younger player to put Trent on his toes. Max Aarons from Norwich would be a good player to have. He’s not the quality of Trent but he’s a bit like [Kostas] Tsimikas with a similar style.

“We need a starting number eight. Thiago Alcantara is brilliant but he has injuries every season. [Naby] Keita has the same injury problems.

“[Jordan] Henderson is getting older so we need a number eight for sure. I don’t know too much about the Monaco midfielder, Aurelien Tchouameni, but you look at Luis Diaz and the recruitment usually gets it right.

“We also need a right winger and I think Jarrod Bowen or Bukayo Saka could be a great shout as they’re both not playing in the Champions League, so it’s a big possibility.”

Could Liverpool actually sign Saka or Bowen?

The pair would undoubtedly be fine additions to Liverpool’s squad. What’s more, the pair have drawn firm links to the Reds over the last 12 months, including by the Athletic in Bowen’s case.

However, Mane’s exit would appear to make a new Salah contract extension more likely.

Owners FSG were always unlikely to offer bumper new deals to both players given they’re already over 30. Of the two, Salah has consistently put up higher numbers and is the only left-footer in the forward line.

Enrique’s point about Saka and Bowen being without Champions League football this year is valid. However, both West Ham and Arsenal – despite their late-season wobble – appear to be going in the right direction at present.

In our eyes, a move for a right-footed left winger would make far more sense, especially if Salah pens fresh terms.