Liverpool are lining up Mikel Oyarzabal as a potential attacking reinforcement if they miss out on Champions League qualification, a report in Spain has claimed.
After winning the Premier League title last season, the current campaign has been a fall from grace for Liverpool. There have been multiple factors that have contributed to their plight. They could still reach the top four but have long since been out of the running to retain their crown.
As things stand, they are seven points off the top four with five games still to play. It seems unlikely they will be even able to break into that territory.
Hence, a number of their top players may be considering their futures. The likes of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah have regularly been linked with moves to other European powerhouses.
Either would be tough to replace, so Liverpool have been linked with plenty of big names. Kylian Mbappe and Jadon Sancho have been mentioned, for example.
The Spanish outlet claims that one name on their radar is Real Sociedad winger Oyarzabal.
The 24-year-old has spent his entire professional career with La Real. However, it could soon be time for him to test himself elsewhere.
Liverpool are aware of his capabilities and reportedly see him as the “next David Silva”. However, he could play in a more advanced role than the former Manchester City star he currently calls a teammate.
There is apparently a belief among the Anfield hierarchy that Oyarzabal could increase his scoring output in the Premier League. He has managed an impressive 10 goals and seven assists from 29 La Liga appearances this season. He also recently scored the decisive penalty that helped La Real win the delayed final of the 2019-20 Copa Del Rey. But Jurgen Klopp thinks he could get even more out of him.
Keen to prove that, Liverpool are reportedly willing to sanction a €50m bid for the Spain international. Those funds have been set aside in case Salah or Mane are sold and would represent an immediate reinvestment.
Oyarzabal may not be the most high-profile replacement Liverpool could find for Salah or Mane. But he does have a good reputation and may fit better within their budget.
Linked with Manchester United last summer, the Spaniard is clearly well thought of. He is under contract until 2024 but may be within reach for a summer move.
Liverpool warned away from midfielder
As part of their rebuild in the summer, Liverpool will place some focus on younger players who they can work with over the long-term.
One such name is Aston Villa midfielder Carney Chukwuemeka, who is 17 years old. There are plans at Villa Park for him to become part of their first-team squad.
But Liverpool, as well as both Manchester clubs, have been linked with the teenager.
According to the Daily Star, though, Villa have told Chukwuemeka’s suitors that they will not allow him to leave.
There are hopes that he could eventually follow a similar pathway to England international Jude Bellingham. For now, though, Villa want to keep him where he is and offer him their own pathway.