Liverpool may not have a clear run at Timo Werner after all after it was claimed Barcelona were ready to make the RB Leipzig striker their No 1 summer transfer target.
The reigning LaLiga champions are likely to be in the hunt for a new forward this summer after a report last week deemed they were ready to let one-time record signing Ousmane Dembele depart after a disappointing spell at the Nou Camp.
Barca were thought to have identified striker Lautaro Martinez as their preferred option, but Inter Milan’s reluctance to sell – together with the huge €111m exit clause that exists in his contract makes the Argentine’s signing difficult.
It was also claimed that Arsenal attacker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was also on their wanted list; with just one year left on his deal this summer, the Gunners run the risk that the free-scoring striker will be poached away by one of European football’s big guns.
However, Spanish football expert Guillem Balague reckons Gunners boss Mikel Arteta will persuade Aubameyang to stay – which is great news for Arsenal going forwards.
Furthermore, Balague, also believes Barcelona are very much intent on moving for Werner, who has a tempting €60m release clause in his deal which, unusually, has to be triggered by the end of April by interested teams.
A report this week claimed Liverpool were ready to open talks for the striker in the next few weeks and were optimistic of a deal, especially after Werner had hugely talked up the reigning European champions by praising manager Jurgen Klopp and their style of football.
However, Balgue is adamant that Barcelona cannot be discounted and said: “I don’t expect Aubameyang to sign for Barcelona in the summer, Barcelona don’t want him,” Balague told GentingBet.
“They were looking for Timo Werner, Aubameyang or Rodrigo in January but now, they need to go for a top number nine, a top midfielder, a top winger and a top centre-back and Aubameyang is not a candidate.
“Now, I think [Mikel] Arteta wants to convince him to stay on, there are going to be changes in the summer for Arsenal and he should be an important player for them.
“They cannot lose these kinds of players, so I think he’ll stay.”
To further complicate matters for Liverpool, RB Leipzig sporting director Markus Krosche has poured cold water on speculation that Werner will leave the Bundesliga this summer.
“There aren’t many things that favour him leaving us,” Krosche told Bild.
Krosche even stated that Leipzig are yet to field any enquiries for Werner.
“There has been nothing at all,” he added. “But it’s normal that Timo gets into the focus of other clubs. He’s playing a very, very good season and scores very, very often. Timo has a long-term contract and there are not many things that favour him leaving us.
“We play Champions League, we have a super coaching team and we still want to achieve a lot.”
Klopp cagey on Werner transfer talk
Asked if Werner, who has spoken fondly about Liverpool and Klopp recently, was angling for a move to Liverpool, Klopp said: “Like always we have nothing to say about that, but I prefer that when players talk about us they are positive, rather than saying ‘we’re the last club they would ever go to’.
“So from that point of view it is nice, but there is nothing else to say.”