Jurgen Klopp knows exactly who he wants to succeed Georginio Wijnaldum in the Liverpool midfield should the Dutchman quit this summer, according to one transfer expert.
Wijnaldum’s future at Anfield remains uncertain, with the Dutchman well into the final year of his deal.
What’s more, links with the likes of Barcelona and Wolves have come hand-in-hand with his situation.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has refused to open up on whether the 30-year-old’s decision over a new deal. However, reports have suggested that his demands for a bumper new pay rise are causing the current stalemate.
Indeed, Wijnaldum is still on the five-year deal he signed when he joined from Newcastle in 2016. Since then, though, the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho have earned significantly higher salaries.
All things considered, it appears Wijnaldum’s future lies away from Merseyside. His exit would leave a big hole to fill in Klopp’s midfield.
However, transfer expert Duncan Castles insists talks between Klopp and sporting director Michael Edwards on Wijnaldum’s replacement are well underway.
A host of names have been linked. Indeed, one report this week suggested a big-money Leeds target was top of their list.
However, Castles insists the man at the top of the pair’s wanted list is Yves Bissouma.
The Brighton star has had a major impact on the south coast since a £15m switch in 2018. Indeed, his double is said to have doubled in that time.
And Castles told The Transfer Window Podcast of Klopp’s personal interest in the Malian star.
Suggesting Bissouma is the one top of Klopp’s wanted list, Castles made the following revelation.
“Bissouma’s contract runs until 2023, so he’s getting into that danger area for the club who holds his contract,” Castles said. “If they don’t sell him in the coming summer, he starts moving into the second last year and transfer value reduces drastically.
“So Brighton will probably need to extend Bissouma’s contract or look seriously at any offers they receive for him.
“I think if you look at Liverpool, it’s clear that Bissouma is being thought of as an option to replace Gini Wijnaldum. That’s if he leaves under freedom of contract at the end of the season.
“He’s a similar type of player, performs a similar type of role. But he’s much younger, you mentioned the statical high rating at present. We know that’s one of the filters that Liverpool use before presenting to Jurgen Klopp as options for new signings.
“My understanding is that Klopp has done some work to ask questions about Bissouma to people who know him well. Again this suggest that this is something Liverpool have on a potential list of replacements.”
Potter determined to keep Bissouma
Bissouma has also been linked with Arsenal in recent months and it seems Brighton will face a battle to keep him.
That said, Seagulls boss Graham Potter is adamant his side have not had any approaches and is determined to keep him at Brighton.
“There have been no approaches,” he said (via Goal). “As I’ve said before, just because it’s in the media, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true.
“My focus is on Yves and how I can help him improve and I think he’s still got some improvement to make.
“That’s my focus with him, to try and help him reach his full potential. He’s got some work to do yet, so that’s what we are focusing on.”
Potter added that he is not keen to read the transfer speculation surrounding Bissouma.
He did, however, explain why the midfielder has an “exciting” future with plenty to learn.
“I don’t read the papers and I don’t really take something that is reported in a newspaper as a true fact,” Potter said.
“This time of the year all sorts of things are put out there which are sometimes true, sometimes untrue, but it doesn’t help me in any way if I listen to the noise.
“Yves has taken some steps and has improved but also still has some more improving to do, which is exciting and is where the work is, so that is what we will focus on.
“He has had to learn some aspects of the game and improve in certain areas but it is credit to him that he has done that so he can help us in those areas. I think he can still improve, so that’s good.”