Premier League • England

Liverpool hold Rafa Benitez meeting, with favour to unlock unusual midfield transfer

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Rafael Benitez

Liverpool could sign a LaLiga midfielder thanks to their relationship with Rafael Benitez, though Reds fans might not see the player until the 2024/25 campaign.

A much-anticipated midfield overhaul is currently in full swing on Merseyside. Fabinho and Jordan Henderson recently joined Leighton Clarkson, Arthur Melo, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner in leaving the club.

Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai have offset the exits to a degree. Southampton’s Romeo Lavia has agreed personal terms with the Reds and a bid totalling £50m will be enough to seal a deal.

However, according to CBS Sports’ Ben Jacobs, Liverpool have their eye on a fourth midfield addition.

Indeed, Celta Vigo ace, Gabri Veiga, is a player Liverpool and a whole host of other Premier League clubs have been monitoring.

The 21-year-old is coming off the back of a breakthrough campaign in which he notched 11 goals and four assists in LaLiga.

Veiga plays primarily as an attack-minded central midfielder. As such, he’d be viewed as a similar type of signing to Mac Allister and Szoboszlai rather than Lavia who would replace Fabinho in the holding role if signed.

Veiga’s contract at Celta contains a release clause worth a reported €40m (approx. £34m).

A deal is thus relatively straightforward to complete, though agreeing personal terms comes with a caveat.

Per Jacobs, Veiga will insist he play regularly if leaving Celta this summer. Try as he might, that’s not be a demand Jurgen Klopp will be easily able to satisfy next season given the arrivals of Mac Allister and Szoboszlai.

But to ensure Liverpool can still secure a deal for one of Spanish football’s most promising young stars, a transfer that would then see Veiga return to Celta on loan for the 2023/24 campaign has been touted.

Liverpool hoping for Benitez favour

To that end, Jacobs reported Liverpool have recently held talks with new Celta boss and former Reds manager, Rafael Benitez.

If Benitez can steer Veiga towards agreeing personal terms and accepting a loan back to Celta for next year, a deal is there to be had for Liverpool.

“There’s a release clause there, there’s plenty of Premier League clubs who are looking at the player,” confirmed Jacobs on Twitter.

“And game time is going to be quite important to Gabri Veiga as well.

“I know for example, Liverpool haven’t moved for Veiga, but they scouted him.

“There was a recent conversation between someone senior at Liverpool and Benitez and the feeling was that there might be an opportunity to sign and loan back because the player’s so adamant that if he moves to a big Premier League club, he needs instant game time.

“I’m not convinced that anyone out of the big Premier League clubs would be able to offer him that.”

The transfer followed by immediate loan back to Celta route would appear to be a compromise all parties could get behind.

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