A pair of Liverpool midfielders signed for roughly £88m will leave Anfield for good this summer, and a trusted source has tipped the Reds to make a major double splash to fill the void.
The engine room is expected to deliver great change on Merseyside this summer. It’s an area that has held Liverpool back this season, with the midfield’s inability to press and also shield the defence resulting in the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Virgil van Dijk repeatedly being over-exposed.
Fabrizio Romano recently suggested Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are not in line for last-gasp contract extensions. The pair – signed for £52.75m and £35m respectively – are out of contract at season’s end.
Now, the Athletic’s Liverpool expert, James Pearce, has categorically stated the pair will indeed leave Liverpool this summer. Three Premier League sides are understood to be showing early interest in Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Pearce wrote the aforementioned pair ‘will depart as free agents’, though might not be the only midfield casualties.
The option to buy in Arthur Melo’s loan deal from Juventus will not be triggered, per Pearce. Unfortunately for the Brazilian, he’s lived up to his reputation as being an injury-prone player.
Elsewhere, Pearce echoed Romano’s prior comments that James Milner’s future is under a cloud too.
Like Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain, Milner’s contract is up in June. Romano claimed he’ll discuss his future with Jurgen Klopp in the coming months, while Pearce seemed to suggest the decision will be up to the player.
In his words, it’ll be Milner who ‘must decide whether to stick around for another year.’ Going off that statement, it sounds like Klopp is fully prepared to extend his much-loved midfielder’s stay by another 12 months.
With three confirmed exits and Milner potentially making it four, reinforcements are clearly required.
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Pearce added Liverpool need a ‘minimum’ of two ‘elite’ signings in the engine room and that is where owners FSG are primed to invest the bulk of their summer budget.
The Athletic’s piece did not run the rule over the Reds’ transfer targets, though plenty of midfielders have been named by other outlets.
Jude Bellingham is the club’s primary transfer target and is expected to cost well in excess of £100m.
Inter Milan’s Nicolo Barella has been heavily scouted since the turn of the year. Inter’s need to generate around €60m through player sales in the first month of the window could work in Liverpool’s favour.
Chelsea’s Mason Mount is a known Reds target and the Telegraph recently reported talks over a contract extension with the Blues is at a ‘stalemate’.
Elsewhere, the Sun put Liverpool on the trail of Portuguese trio Joao Palhinha, Ruben Neves and Matheus Nunes.