Premier League • England

Double Liverpool deal ramps up with West Ham prepared to play ball

Fabinho, Curtis Jones, Naby Keita, Divock Origi, Liverpool celeb after Premier League goal at Anfield

West Ham could land a pair of Liverpool cult heroes in January after reports indicated they are prepared to do business on two fronts.

The Hammers have long been short of genuine competition for Michail Antonio. Sebastien Haller was never replaced following his sale to Ajax in January. Mercifully for David Moyes, Antonio has remained injury free this season, though for a club of their ambition, adequate depth is a must.

Now, according to the Daily Express, that depth issue could be solved by Liverpool’s Divock Origi.

The Belgian, 26, has developed a penchant for scoring critical goals for the Reds. Origi has netted in Champions League semi-finals, finals and Merseyside derbies. This campaign, he has been Jurgen Klopp’s super-sub, notching twice in the league from the bench including a memorable last-minute winner at Wolves.

Nonetheless, Liverpool were open to offloading Origi over the summer. Somewhat surprisingly, concrete interest did not emerge.

But per the Express, West Ham are fast emerging as a genuine contender to snap Origi up in January.

The Hammers are described as readying a bid for the forward who is out of contract next summer. That means unless a new contract is signed, the January window will be Liverpool’s last chance to recoup a fee.

Journalist Pete O’Rourke confirmed West Ham are “long-term admirers” of Origi. He insisted it is “one to keep an eye on”, with Origi’s Premier League experience making him a readymade and low-risk option.

O’Rourke told GiveMeSport: “Divock Origi finds himself down the pecking order at Liverpool.

“We know West Ham have been long-term admirers of the Belgian. It’s an interesting one, that one, it’s one to keep an eye on.”

Origi’s agent has West Ham “connection”

talkSPORT’s Alex Crook then confirmed West Ham “looked at” Origi over the summer. Furthermore, he claimed the player’s agent has a “close connection” with West Ham’s board.

“Divock Origi is somebody I know they looked at in the summer,” said Crook (via the Express).

Liverpool want Karim Adeyemi to replace Divock Origi

Liverpool want Karim Adeyemi to replace Divock Origi

Liverpool are ready to move on from Origi as RB Salzburg youngster Karim Adeyemi’s future is in question

“His agent has a very close connection, should we say, to the West Ham board so that is a transfer I could see happening in January.”

Clouding the issue is the impending departure of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to AFCON next month. That will leave Liverpool light up top, and could embolden their desire to retain Origi for the remainder of his contract.

West Ham also remain keen on signing centre-half Nat Phillips. The 24-year-old earned rave reviews for his manful displays amid an unprecedented injury crisis at Anfield last year.

In a similar story, injuries to Angelo Ogbonna and Kurt Zouma have left Moyes’ men thin at the back. Phillips was reported to be available for £10m in January. However, the Athletic recently claimed the Reds will hold out for £15m.

The Evening Standard reported last week that West Ham were pushing ahead with a deal. That’s despite Phillips currently being sidelined with a fractured cheekbone.

Liverpool won’t sign “constant threat” players – Klopp

Meanwhile, Jurgen Klopp has decided against signing unvaccinated players in January, with the Liverpool boss branding those who have not received a jab a “constant threat” to the rest of his squad.

Klopp is a passionate supporter of the COVID-19 vaccine programme and is convinced that getting it should be mandatory, at least from a moral perspective. Indeed, the Reds chief has confirmed that “99 per cent” of his current squad are fully vaccinated – with the UK currently tackling a surge in the Omicron variant.

Reds trio Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Curtis Jones missed the win over Newcastle on Thursday night due to suspected positive COVID-19 tests. Meanwhile, six of this weekend’s Premier League clashes have been postponed due to outbreaks.

Liverpool could boost their title challenge by strengthening in January. The German coach has, however, admitted that no deals are currently lined up. That comes as a slight surprise, given that Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita will be away at the African Cup of Nations for several weeks.

“We are obviously not close to signing a player so I did not think about it but then I thought about it and yes, it will be influential, definitely,” Klopp said when asked if the stance of transfer targets towards the vaccine might affect their suitability for Liverpool, as reported in the Daily Express.

“In a situation like this, let’s take our situation. If a player is not vaccinated at all, he is a constant threat for all of us.

“He doesn’t want to be a threat, of course. It is not that he thinks, ‘Oh my God, I don’t care about the others.’

“But he is and we have to find different scenarios.”

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