Premier League • England

Liverpool barge West Ham aside as Klopp targets bargain signing of Napoli star he ‘really admires’

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has always been a big fan of Piotr Zielinski

Jurgen Klopp has always been a big fan of Piotr Zielinski

Liverpool are reportedly set to open talks with Napoli over a bargain January deal to sign Piotr Zielinski with the Poland midfielder a long-term target of Jurgen Klopp’s and now likely to leave on the cheap.

The Reds boss spent the summer window rebuilding his entire midfield and the quick-fire exits of Fabinho and Jordan Henderson to Saudi Arabia made it six departures from their engine room. And with four new names brought in, starting with Alexis Mac Allister and finishing with Ryan Gravenberch, Liverpool were able to revitalise an area of their side that had flagged badly the previous season.

However, there remains a feeling around Anfield that Klopp and Liverpool are not yet completely finished with their midfield rebuild. And with doubts over the longevity over one of those signings, Wataru Endo – it’s been suggested Japan player is not of the standard required at Liverpool – the Reds could yet go back into the market to make another new signing in January.

For several months, it looked like that player would be Andre Trindade of Fluminense. However, despite tracking his progress for several months, it appears Liverpool have decided against his signing and the one-time capped Brazil midfielder now appears destined to join Fulham.

As an alternative, Liverpool are reportedly back on the trail of Nice star Khephren Thuram.

The 22-year-old has established himself as one of the leading defensive midfielders in Ligue 1 and looks very well equipped to succeed in the Premier League.

Reports in Italy claim Klopp has been given the green light to seal the Frenchman’s signing in a hefty €45m (£38.6m) deal.

LIverpool backed to sign Piotr Zielinski in low-cost deal

However, there is also the belief that Nice will not want to sell midway through a season where they are currently unbeaten and emerging as genuine title contenders.

And with Liverpool also in the market to strengthen the centre of his defence, with Joel Matip nearing the end of his time at Anfield, Klopp will need to consider carefully how he spends his transfer budget in January.

As a result, it might be that Klopp decides to spend the majority of his money on reinforcing the centre of the Reds’ defence.

However, that does not mean their hunt for new midfielders is over either with reports in Italy claimimg Klopp is also back on the trail of long-time target Zielinski.

The Poland midfielder was chased by Klopp way back in summer 2016 during the German’s first pre-season at helm. However, after impressing while on loan at Empoli, Zielinski opted to remain in Italy and sign instead for Napoli, where he has since shone ever since.

Now in his eighth season with the Gli Azzurri, Zielinski’s deal at Napoli is due to expire on July 1, 2024.

The reigning Italian champions have held ongoing talks over extending that stay, but have so far been unable to reach an agreement.

Now, with time ticking away towards the January window, it’s believed Napoli will look to try and sell the midfielder in the winter, as opposed lose his services on a free at the end of the season.

Klopp a huge fan of West Ham target

West Ham have been strongly linked with a move of their own, having seen an offer for his services – believed to be around the €30m (£25m) mark rejected over summer 2023.

And the Hammers reportedly remain on his trail with their technical director Tim Steidten a big fan.

However, Italian journalist Valter De Maggio of Calciomercato claims it is the Reds who are fimly back on the 29-year-old’s trail and looking to secure his signing from Napoli.

And with the Pole a player Klopp ‘really admires’, it’s claimed Liverpool are ready to make contact with Napoli to discuss what sort of fee they would be looking for.

Napoli chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis has not given up entirely on keeping the player, though has reportedly warned his agent that they do not intend to raise their offer beyond their current €4m a year deal now.

That equates to around £65,000 a week – a package Liverpool could comfortably top were they to entice the player to take up a new challenge on Merseyside.

As a result, it’s reported that Klopp is keen to push ahead with the signing of the 86-times capped Poland international, whose experience could prove invaluable to Liverpool.

Now in his eighth season at Napoli, the player has made 345 appearances for the club, scoring 50 times.

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