Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is reportedly back on the trail of Inter Milan star Nicolo Barella – and seemingly ready to pull off a surprise summer coup with a Reds midfielder offered as a makeweight.
The Reds have already invested heavily this summer, having signed Darwin Nunez for a club-record fee. The Uruguayan striker arrives from Benfica in a deal that will ultimately cost the Merseysiders £85m. Some of that, though, will be offset by the departure of Sadio Mane for £35m.
Joining Nunez at Anfield is teenagers Fabio Carvalho and Calvin Ramsay. The two have arrived for much more modest fees and are seen as two players very much with the future in mind.
The capture of the Scottish defender was expected to put the wrap on Liverpool’s summer spending. Indeed, aside from a number of departures, it is widely reported that the Reds will no longer be active in the summer window.
To that end, the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Takumi Minamino are both expected to depart.
However, Liverpool were expected to be in the running to sign a new midfielder this summer. While James Milner has signed a new deal, the 2022/23 season may well be the 36-year-old’s last in football.
In addition, Thiago Alcantara and Jordan Henderson are both the wrong side of 30. Ultimately, all three will need replacing.
Liverpool were on the trail of Aurelien Tchouameni only to see Champions League nemeses Real Madrid land him instead.
Klopp stopping at nothing to sign Nicolo Barella
Now, despite reports their spending is over, Calciomercato claims Liverpool are eyeing one final massive splash for Barella.
The Inter Milan star has long been on Jurgen Klopp’s rada. Indeed, the midfielder first emerged as a player of interest for him back in 2018.
Then at Cagliari, Barella moved to Inter and has since won Serie A and also the European Championships with Italy.
Now ranked at at staggering £77m (€90m), Calciomercato claims Liverpool are now readying a firm approach.
Claiming Klopp is ‘bewitched’ by the player, they say he will stop at nothing to bring Barella to Anfield.
They claim Klopp will look to sweeten the deal by including Naby Keita as a makeweight.
The Guinean midfielder joined Liverpool in a £50m deal from RB Leipzig in 2018, inheriting Steven Gerrard’s infamous No 8 shirt.
However, he has struggled to command a regular shirt at Anfield and has been in and out of Klopp’s side.
Inter man an upgrade on Keita
While the transfer looks unlikely, the capture of Barella would make Liverpool stronger.
The Italian appeared in 48 matches in all competitions in 2021/22, scoring four goals and adding four assists.
He’s quite rightly regarded as one of the Nerazzurri’s biggest assets.
Looking a long-term replacement for Henderson, Nicolo Barella, still only 25, is yet to reach his peak. He also has the talent to succeed in the Premier League.
Truth be told, Keita has been a big disappointment for Liverpool.
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He has shown glimpses of his talent, but rarely done so on a consistent basis. And while Klopp has praised Keita for his efforts, there must be a part of him disappointed by his contributions.
Keita made 40 appearances in all competitions during 2021/22, scoring four times and weighing in with two assists. Worryingly, that’s by some distance his best season yet for the Reds. But there remains a feeling of unfuflfilled potential for Keita and Liverpool.