Premier League • England

First major casualty of Arne Slot era named as Liverpool lower price for Klopp favourite to tempt Barcelona

Liverpool CEO of football Michael Edwards and new Reds boss Arne Slot

Liverpool CEO of football Michael Edwards and new Reds boss Arne Slot

Liverpool are reported to have made it clear they will not block Luis Diaz from leaving Anfield this summer with a tempting fee placed on the winger’s head and with Barcelona looking at the the player as one of three top summer targets.

The Colombia attacker moved to Anfield in an initial €45m (£37.5m) deal from FC Porto in January 2022, with the transfer reaching €60m if a further €15m (£12.5m) in add-ons were met. Signing a deal to summer 2027, Diaz soon became a regular for Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp.

However, his time at Anfield has been blighted by a number of issues and the winger was sidelined for over four months in the 2022/23 season after suffering a bad knee injury during a match at Arsenal.

More problems were to hamper Diaz, however, with the player’s mother and father held to ransom after being kidnapped by Colombian criminals the National Liberation Army. And while his mother was returned safely 24 hours later, the player’s father was held against his will for 12 days in a mountainous area of his homeland.

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Plagued by such issues, it is little wonder that Liverpool have not quite seen Diaz as his explosive and most consistent best.

There have been flashes of his brilliance, but his 24 goals and 11 assists from 98 appearances means he has not quite been as productive as Liverpool may have hoped.

In recent months, speculation over Diaz‘s future has escalated amid claims he is on Barcelona’s list of potential summer targets. The Blaugrana are ready for a summer overhaul after Xavi’s departure as coach and off the back of a season that saw them finish 10 points adrift of LaLiga winners Real Madrid.

Liverpool transfers: Slot sets lowball price on Diaz

To that end, Diaz’s father has also talked up the prospect of his son making a move to LaLiga, though it is Real Madrid whom have been the subject of his affection.

But with Real since signing Kylian Mbappe and having no room for further attacking additons, it is Barcelona whom have been the side most strongly linked with Diaz.

Now Mundo Deportivo have claimed Liverpool will not stand in Diaz’s way if he wants to leave this summer, with the player set to become the first major casualty of the Arne Slot era on Anfield.

Furthermore, following discussions with Reds CEO of football Michael Edwards and Slot, it’s claimed Diaz has been made available for a cut-price €50m (£42.3m) this summer.

Slot is looking to make his mark at Anfield and while a new defender and a top-level defensive midfielder are his priorities, he is reportedly open to the idea of sacrificing Diaz to help fund sizeable signings elsewhere.

At 27, the player is coming into his prime, though Liverpool know his asking price is only likely to decline over the next two seasons – meaning it may be seen as the right time to cash in on the player now.

Barcelona to pick between three wingers

With Barcelona ready to let Raphinha depart to help finance a move for a new winger – the Brazilian has been forced to switch flanks with teenage sensation Lamine Yamal now prefered on the right of their attack – the Blaugrana are considering the merits of three potential replacements.

Previous coach Xavi had earmarked Athletic Bilbao’s Nico Williams as his preferred option, with his €50m clause giving Barcelona a clear vision of what a deal would cost.

He remains an option for the club and reports in Spain indicate he would be willing to make the move across LaLiga.

Barca sporting director Deco, however, has seemingly got other ideas.

And while not ruling out Williams entirely, his preferred target would be RB Leipzig star Dani Olmo, whose exit clause is set at €60m.

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To that end, Deco is reported to have met with Olmo’s agent in recent days to discuss a potential move to the Nou Camp from the Bundesliga.

And while the 34-times capped Spain international is keen on the move, Leipzig’s refusal to accept a penny less than the player’s exit clause could give Barcelona – whose finances remain tight – something of an issue.

That’s where the reduced asking price for Diaz could become beneficial and they could even use the fact that Liverpool are open to his sale to their advantage and look to lower the asking price even lower.

The Reds are not in the practice of inserting exit clauses in the contracts of any players they sign, preferring instead to set their own agendas and use market forces as a current guide.