Hopes over a Liverpool transfer have come back down to earth after the reason why a target was omitted from his side’s opening day squad was revealed.
Following the arrival of Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig for £36m, attention turned to who Liverpool would target to replace Georginio Wijnaldum. A series of ready-made stars across Europe have been linked, but little progress has been made thus far.
Instead, the Reds have focussed on tying down the elite members of their squad to fresh terms. Virgil van Dijk was the latest to commit his long-term future to the club on Friday.
Nevertheless, eyebrows were raised on Saturday when Ligue 1 title winner Renato Sanches was curiously missing from Lille’s squad.
The Portuguese midfielder, 23, has enjoyed a career resurgence since moving to Lille in 2019. The Reds have been credited with interest throughout 2021, and the club’s financial woes amid the Covid-19 pandemic has left them vulnerable to an approach.
Sanches was sorely missed as Lille were thumped 4-0 by Nice. But one line of thinking suggested his absence could be due to his imminent departure.
However, that has proven not to be the case. Speaking in the aftermath of the match, Lille manager Jocelyn Gourvennec confirmed his absence was due to a knee complaint.
Now, according to reliable journalist Fabrizio Romano, that knee complaint is in Sanches’ meniscus and could require surgery.
The Italian tweeted Sanches will ‘undergo exams on Monday for potential surgery.’ Should the midfielder be required to go under the knife, a summer transfer will be off the table. Even if surgery is not required, a deal this summer would still appear highly unlikely.
Romano confirmed Liverpool’s interest in the tweet, though acknowledged they never lodged any bids.
Barcelona and RB Leipzig are two other suitors, but it appears everyone concerned will now have to wait until the January window at the earliest.
Van Dijk revels in Liverpool return
Meanwhile, Van Dijk insists he could not ask for more after making his return to the Liverpool side in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Norwich – but the giant central defender is already setting his ambitions high for the Reds this season.
”I wasn’t nervous, I was excited, I wanted to be out there. I wanted to get the game going,” Van Dijk told the official club website.”Very happy obviously to start the game, to get the three points, win 3-0 away, a clean sheet. Obviously you can’t ask for more.
“There are still many things to improve but we are early in the season. I’m still getting up to speed so these are the only moments where you can really improve as well.”
“This year is going to be exciting for many reasons, personally but as a team as well. If you look at the teams around us improving, who want to compete for the Premier League title; obviously we want to be up there as well.
“It’s going to be a Premier League full of high quality which we all should enjoy. We have a fantastic squad – just go for it and take each game as it comes.
“Seeing the fans back is a big boost, but also just playing the games, the Premier League, the best league in the world. You want to be out there, you want to perform, you want to compete, you want to win.
“To be able to do that with fans again as a team, hopefully we stay fit all of us, that’s something to be excited about. We’ll give it a proper go and take it game by game.”