Reported Liverpool defensive target Aissa Mandi’s “preferred track is the Premier League”, claims a report.
Mandi’s name was thrown back into the Anfield melting pot earlier this week.
The Real Betis centre-back is back on Liverpool’s radar ahead of a summer swoop for a new defender, La Razon informed us.
Liverpool entered the January transfer window with no senior centre-halves following Joel Matip’s groin injury.
But despite the Cameroonian returning, he then suffered long-term ankle ligament damage which forced the Reds to bring in Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies on deadline day.
Speculation suggests that Jurgen Klopp s keen to bring in a more long-term defensive signing in the summer, having started the season with three centre-back options after Dejan Lovren’s departure.
Klopp had his sights on Algeria international Mandi last summer. According to the Daily Mirror, Liverpool’s first offer of £9m was rejected by Betis.
Liverpool were reportedly informed that an increased bid of £10.8m would be enough to land their man. However, a deal for the 29-year-old never materialised.
And now Le Buteur, who report a move to the Premier League is the ‘preferred’ option for Mandi, explain Liverpool were not keen to spend on a player who would be free this summer.
Klopp was apparently keen on a transfer last August and the Algerian source has quoted a fee of £18m, but Michael Edwards was not happy investing that sort of money for a player who could walk away for free this July.
Mandi has a €30m exit clause in his deal, but with his contract running down that has been rendered obsolete.
Now though Mandi’s priority is a move to England and talks with the player can get underway immediately.
Van Dijk on the mend
Whether or not Klopp pursues a move for Mandi could hinge on the speed that Matip, Virgl van Dijk and Joe Gomez return from the sidelines after suffering significant injuries.
However, Van Dijk has been working hard behind the scenes on his recovery. He recently spent the last two months in Dubai at the Nad al Sheba complex on a specialist rehabilitation programme.
Since returning to English soil last month, Van Dijk has been working on his strength and conditioning with Liverpool’s medics.
However, the player was deemed strong enough to step out onto the grass at their new AXA Training Centre last Wednesday. In what the Liverpool Echo terms ‘a huge step forwards’, Van Dijk was spotted with the ball at his feet.