Liverpool are not pursuing a Matheus Nunes transfer despite claims to the contrary in Portugal, and the player Jurgen Klopp will trust to replace Thiago has been revealed.
Thiago Alcantara suffered a hamstring injury on opening day that has thrown a spanner in Liverpool’s midfield works. The classy Spaniard will miss at least a month of action and his injury comes at the worst possible time.
Indeed, fellow midfielders Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Curtis Jones are also on the treatment table. Naby Keita missed the Fulham clash through illness.
The depleted midfield ranks had lead to an outpouring of expectation Liverpool would act in the transfer market.
Jurgen Klopp has publicly insisted the Reds won’t make vanity purchases to cover short-term absences. However, that did not stop speculation swelling over a potential Matheus Nunes move.
The Sporting Lisbon midfielder, 23, has drawn persistent links with Liverpool and the Portuguese press claimed a bid worth an initial £38m was being formulated.
However, the Times’ Liverpool expert, Paul Joyce, has dismissed those claims entirely.
Matheus Nunes a non-starter
Joyce stated Liverpool are ‘not pursing a deal’. Instead, they have irons in the fire over a new contract for a player who could step up in Thiago’s absence – Harvey Elliott.
It’s reported the 19-year-old will soon be offered a new long-term contract despite his current deal still having four years to run.
However, Liverpool are looking for greater long-term stability and the new deal will be more of a reflection of his growing influence within the squad. In reality, that means he’s in line for a sizeable wage rise.
It’s also hinted he could be the greatest beneficiary of Thiago’s injury with a starting spot in midfield now up for grabs.
Elliott signed initially as winger, though played the majority of his football in an injury-curtailed campaign last year in the midfield three.
There’s also a suggestion new boy Fabio Carvalho could see more minutes than he might’ve expected in the coming weeks.
Big shoes for Elliott to fill
Elliott has shown all the hallmarks of becoming a world class player in the future. However, it cannot be understated just how big of a task replacing Thiago is.
The Spaniard sets the tempo in Liverpool’s midfield and is often called upon to unlock opposition defences if their efforts out wide don’t bear fruit.
Elliott is a wonderful young player. Though it is too much to ask for him to control a game in the manner Thiago does.
Instead, he will play his part in the building of attacks and join the forward line when he can. In that scenario he may find himself on the scoresheet a time or two.
Liverpool’s next six league fixtures are Crystal Palace, Man Utd, Bournemouth, Newcastle, Everton and Wolves.