Liverpool had a deal in place to sign Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey back in summer 2018 before changing their mind late in the day, according to a report.
The Ghanaian was one of Atletico’s most influential players on Wednesday night as Diego Simeone’s side overcame the European champions 3-2, sealing a 4-2 on aggregate win and send Jurgen Klopp’s side tumbling out of the competition at the last-16 stage.
In a tale of two goalkeepers, the LaLiga side’s Jan Oblak showed why he is one of the world’s best by single-handedly holding the visitors at bay in the second half as shots rained down on his goal with the tie level on aggregate at 1-1 after Georginio Wijnaldum’s opener.
By contrast Adrian, the goalkeeper who did not have a club in the summer and who was standing in for the injured Alisson Becker, had a shocking nine minutes in extra time with his error leading to Marcos Llorente’s goal after Roberto Firmino’s first at Anfield since April had put Liverpool ahead in the tie for the first time.
And while Oblak and super-sub Marcos Llorente quite rightly stole the headlines, Atletico’s cause was hugely helped by the selfless running and general breaking-up of play of Thomas in the centre of the pitch; the defensive midfielder enjoying an excellent game in the centre of the park.
But according to Mundo Deportivo, Partey could have been lining up for the other side had Liverpool followed through with their plan to bring the player to Anfield back in summer 2018.
As per the report, Klopp and Liverpool were believed to have struck a fee of around £45million to bring Partey to Anfield in the summer of 2018. The midfielder had been in and out of Diego Simeone’s plans that season and they were prepared to cash in on their homegrown player it had been claimed.
However, Liverpool’s disappointing 3-1 Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid in Kiev at the end of that season forced Klopp to abandon plans to sign Partey and instead use the money to bring in a new goalkeeper in place of Loris Karius, who dropped two big clangers in the match.
That night, it’s claimed, Klopp was convinced to shell out big money instead to bring in Alisson Becker from Roma, with the deal for the Brazilian eventually setting Liverpool back a then world-record £65m.
Liverpool were already committed to signing Fabinho from Monaco in a £42m deal that summer and it was decided that Klopp also wanted to prioritise a move for Naby Keita, who they ended up buying in a pre-agreed deal from RB Leipzig.
Partey may have missed his move to Liverpool, but the midfielder was clearly out to make up for lost time when speaking ahead of Atletico’s win at Anfield he sounded out his determination to enjoy the famous European night atmosphere at the club.
“We are prepared. It is a dream for me to play against them in their stadium. I hope it stays forever in my career,” the midfielder said (via Marca).
“They are doing well. We have to be focused one hundred percent. We know it will be difficult.
“Klopp said not many of us had played at Anfield? For us as players it is important that the teammates help each other.
“Sometimes opinions are opinions. We are here to do our job.”