Liverpool’s attempt to sign Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez might actually net them a cash windfall due to a bizarre set of circumstances.
The Reds are on the lookout for Georginio Wijnaldum’s replacement and Niguez seems high on their wish list. The 26-year-old has been at Wanda Metropolitano since 2008, coming up through the youth ranks before making his senior debut in 2012. Born in Elche, he has gone on to make 337 appearances in all competitions, scoring 43 goals.
But it may be that his next domestic action is at Anfield, with a fee of around £35m mooted for the Spain international. His exit from the Spanish capital would leave the LaLiga champions needing a replacement.
And it seems as though they have their eyes on a man who enjoyed just a brief stay on Merseyside between 2013 and 2016. Luis Alberto made 12 appearances for the north-west giants in 2013-14.
He remained on the books for two more years but was loaned to Malaga and Deportivo La Coruna. Capped once by Spain, the midfielder signed permanent terms for Lazio in the summer of 2016.
And it proved to be a successful move as he has now enjoyed 175 outings for the Rome-based club, scoring 35 times. But the Spaniard has now gone AWOL, failing to turn up to the club’s pre-season training.
Lazio boss Maurizio Sarri confirmed his absence and hopes to get to the bottom of the matter soon.
“Luis Alberto did not respond to a call, it’s a managerial and corporate problem,” he told reporters. “From a moral point of view, he must speak with me and with his teammates. And he must convince us about the reasons for his delay.
“Otherwise, he will have to apologise to me and to the others. In my teams, there’s no death penalty for those who don’t respect the rules, but certain situations must still be clarified.”
Stubborn Alberto could aid Niguez deal
Reports claim Alberto is trying to force through a move to Atletico to become Niguez’s replacement. His stock has risen considerably due to his displays for the Biancocelesti and he could still command a sizeable transfer fee.
That would be good news for both Lazio and Liverpool. The Reds inserted a 30 per cent sell-on clause when the Italians bought him five years ago.
And it could land the club a tasty sum with Alberto thought to be valued at around the £40m mark. Italian giants Inter and Juventus have also been mentioned in connection with the winger.
Gazzetta dello Sport claim Alberto in on Atletico’s radar but Liverpool will not mind where he goes as long as the price is decent.