Premier League • England

Liverpool learn price to sign star branded Arne Slot ‘fetish’ as two English rivals jostle for Joel Matip

Arne Slot is keen to sign Benfica midfielder Orkun Kokcu for Liverpool

Arne Slot is keen to sign Benfica midfielder Orkun Kokcu for Liverpool

New Liverpool manager Arne Slot has learned the price needed to sign Benfica midfielder Orkun Kokcu amid claims the Turkey star has shot right to the very top of his wanted list – while departing defender Joel Matip is to be given two opportunities to remain in English football.

The Reds are preparing for what they hope will be a bright new era at Anfield after Jurgen Klopp stepped away after over eight and a half years in the Liverpool dug out at the weekend. After winning seven major trophies and reaching four European finals in his time at the helm, the German’s spell in charge will be remembered with fond memories by all associated with the club.

After a prolonged and detailed search, Liverpool CEO of football Michael Edwards ultimately settled on Slot, who has been chosen both for his similar man-management techniques to Klopp, as well as the similar brand of football he plays. To that end, Edwards will hope the expected drop-off that often comes with the departure of a high-ranking manager will not be as keenly felt at Liverpool as has been in recent past with some of their rivals.

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Planning for the next chapter of Liverpool’s history is already well underway and the Dutchman is reported to have given Edwards, and incoming new sporting director Richard Hughes, a list of would-be targets to sign – with a new centre-half and a new midfielder very much at the top of his list.

Indeed, Tuesday’s Euro Paper Talk had details of four would-be signings the Dutchman would ideally like to make at Anfield this summer with a possible €150m outlay on the cards.

Liverpool quoted fee to sign Slot’s dream signing Orkun Kokcu

In terms of a new midfield addition, Slot is believed to have recommended the Reds move for Turkey international Kokcu, who can operate in a variety of positions across the midfield and is comfortable as a No 6, a No 8 or a No 10.

And while he is said to be prefer an attacking role, Slot sees that versatility as a major plus and has made the 23-year-old a primary target this summer as a result.

The player is well known to Slot, having worked under him at Feyenoord and been a hugely-influential figure in their Eredivisie title success back in the 2022/23 season.

That relationship only came to an end when market forces saw the then-Dutch champions accept a €25m offer, plus a further €5m in add-ons, to sell the player to Benfica.

However, reports in the Portuguese media now claim Slot is determined to rekindle that relationship at Anfield – and with A Bola writing that it is the new Liverpool boss’ ‘fetish’ to reacquaint with the player this summer.

Benfica, though, will not let the player leave on the cheap and have informed Liverpool that it would take a minimum offer of €45m to tempt them into his sale.

The Portuguese side are protected by a sizeable €150m exit clause in his deal, though, so are adamant they will not let him depart for a penny below what they deem to be an acceptable offer – making Slot’s quest to reunite with him all the more tricky.

Kokcu took his time to settle in Portugal, though did score four times in the last six league games of the season, underlining his potential when used in a more advanced midfield role.

Joel Matip offered chance to remain in England

Meanwhile, one player who has been shown the door by Liverpool this summer, in Matip, looks set to be offered the chance to resume his career in the Premier League next season.

The former Cameroon international has been allowed to leave Anfield after reaching the end of his contract but having played a significant role in the success Liverpool enjoyed under Klopp.

His time at Anfield ends on a disappointing note, however, with the player suffering a ACL injury in December, meaning he was not able to add to the 201 appearances he made in a Liverpool shirt.

He is scheduled to return to training around mid to late summer and, assuming he comes through his return unscathed, looks on course to make a full comeback once he has built up his fitness; possibly as soon as mid to late September.

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In terms of where Matip ends up next, a return to the Bundesliga has been mooted with the player having previously starred for Schalke.

However, it is understood that Bournemouth are exploring the possibility of signing Matip on an initial one-year deal – which could be improved if he proves his fitness.

The Cherries are in the market for a new centre-half with Lloyd Kelly set to leave as a free agent and understood to be closing on a move to Newcastle.

However, they will also face competition for his signature from south-coast rivals Southampton, who are also considering a move and will look to cement that interest with a firm offer if they overcome Leeds United in Sunday’s Championship play-off final.