Premier League • England

Liverpool move for ‘complete’ midfielder must go through Newcastle, with failed bid hinting at size of Klopp’s task

Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Kouadio Kone battling Bayern Munich star Marcelo Sabitzer

Liverpool are keeping close tabs on a French midfielder Newcastle have already seen a bid knocked back for, while Fabrizio Romano shed light on what impact he’d have on a move for Jude Bellingham.

Liverpool’s midfield issues are far from a secret, but they were once again laid bare for all to see on Monday evening. The Reds struggled to contain Brentford from corners specifically during their 3-1 defeat. However, many of the set piece situations arose following Brentford attacks in which Liverpool’s midfield were too easily bypassed.

Jurgen Klopp has stressed his side are still open to conducting further business this month aside from their Cody Gakpo coup. If the Reds do sign more players, it’s strongly expected they’ll be midfielders.

Jude Bellingham remains the club’s primary target, though the English ace won’t be available until the summer.

A move for Wolves’ Matheus Nunes has come back into the spotlight just six months after he arrived at Molineux. Nunes was heavily linked with the Reds prior to joining Wolves in a £38m move from Sporting Lisbon and their interest has resurfaced.

Fellow midfield target Enzo Fernandez appears bound for Chelsea if he also leaves Portugal. However, there’s more positive news regarding another target – Kouadio Kone.

The Frenchman, 21 plies his trade in the Bundesliga for Borussia Monchengladbach and his impressive displays have drawn the attention of many of Europe’s big hitters.

French outlet MediaFoot reported PSG are monitoring his situation, while Newcastle reportedly saw a bid worth €35m (approx. £30m at current exchange rate) rejected last summer.

With Kone continuing to shine since then, common sense would dictate an even higher sum will now be required in 2023 and onwards.

Kone has only provided one goal and one assist this season. However, his greatest strengths centre around his energy, work-rate and willingness to press – three traits sorely lacking in Klopp’s midfield at present.

Romano details likeliest transfer date, Bellingham implications

Fabrizio Romano added his take on Kone’s future, tweeting Newcastle remain a firm fixture in any race to sign Kone if he’s moved on in 2023.

Liverpool are also among the quartet of clubs keeping ‘well informed’ on Kone’s situation. The others are PSG as MediaFoot suggested, and Bayern Munich.

Romano added a summer move – not a January one – appears the most likely at this stage. The player, his agent and Gladbach are all seemingly in agreement season’s end is the more appropriate time to explore a sale.

Romano also stressed Bellingham remains Liverpool’s primary focus on the subject of midfield additions. However, that’s not to say Liverpool couldn’t sign two or even three new stars.

Given the obvious problems the Reds have in central areas right now, as well as James Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all being out of contract in the summer, multiple additions could soon be essential.

TRANSFER GOSSIP: Man Utd to make £58m Bundesliga star their first January signing as John Murtough launches bid; Chelsea ‘insisting’ on deal for Liverpool target