Jurgen Klopp has been handed yet another setback in his bid to improve the Liverpool midfield, with transfer target Gabri Veiga edging closer to a big transfer to Italy.
Having allowed James Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to leave on free transfers this summer, Liverpool were always going to need midfield reinforcements. And they have so far managed to bring in Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai.
But the transfers of Fabinho and Jordan Henderson to the Saudi Pro League have made the need for a new defensive midfielder even more pressing.
Liverpool are interested in Brighton star Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia of Southampton. However, the Reds are at serious risk of missing out on both players to Chelsea.
Liverpool made three bids for Lavia, with the highest coming in at £45m. But they did not match Southampton’s £50m asking price and this has resulted in Chelsea bursting in with a £48m offer of their own. According to Saints manager Russell Martin, the transfer saga surrounding Lavia is nearing a ‘conclusion’, with Chelsea the frontrunners.
Liverpool have also made a club-record £110m bid for Caicedo, and this has been accepted by Brighton. But the 21-year-old has told Liverpool he only wants to sign for Chelsea, and the Blues are therefore ready to pay £115m to beat Liverpool to his capture.
Should both Lavia and Caicedo head to West London, then Liverpool will need to hunt for a new defensive midfield target. They might also search for a more creative midfielder too, with Celta Vigo’s Veiga a player Klopp likes.
But Liverpool are facing problems in that pursuit as well. On Tuesday, Fabrizio Romano revealed how Napoli had thundered in with a €30m (£25.9m) offer for Veiga.
Liverpool-linked Gabri Veiga to head to Serie A
That proposal was knocked back as Celta Vigo wanted closer to the playmaker’s release clause, which sits at €40m (£34.5m).
But according to an update from Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, Napoli have succeeded with a new bid worth €35m (£30.2m).
Veiga is now ‘one step away’ from signing for Napoli, who blitzed their way to last season’s Serie A title and also reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Presumably, the final step the report is alluding to is Veiga passing his Napoli medical. He has already agreed personal terms on a five-year contract worth €2m (£1.7m) per season.
Should Veiga’s switch to Naples reach completion, then he will arrive as competition and backup for current star Piotr Zielinski. The Pole has been linked with move to Lazio and Al Ahli this summer, but he now appears to be leaning towards staying at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.
Klopp will be disheartened if Veiga joins Napoli, as it will be another midfield target Liverpool have missed out on. Plus, Veiga has the potential to make a big impact at the highest level. Despite being only 21 years old, he has already emerged into one of Celta Vigo’s most important players, and he notched 11 goals in 36 league matches last season.