The reason why Liverpool were personally rejected by a marksman drawing Erling Haaland comparisons in favour of a Leicester switch has been revealed.
An underlying factor behind the Reds’ struggles last term was a collective loss of form up front. Mohamed Salah was wasteful despite bagging 22 league goals. Additionally, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane endured their worst seasons at Anfield by the goals per game metric.
Diogo Jota shone before the injury bug bit, but beyond the Portuguese, reliable depth is thin on the ground.
Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri have both been tipped to leave. As such, Liverpool had reportedly turned their attentions to securing attacking reinforcements.
One player who had been tipped to fill the void was RB Salzburg sensation, Patson Daka.
The Austrian outfit wasted little time in replacing the goals lost from Haaland’s exit. Zambia international Daka, 22, was afforded greater opportunity, and did not disappoint.
In the most recent campaign he bagged 34 goals and 12 assists across all competitions from 42 outings.
Liverpool, Leicester and West Ham were all said to be in the mix for his signature, however, it was revealed last week that the Foxes had seemingly won the race. In the most recent development, trusted football journalist Fabrizio Romano described the deal as “done” and will be announced “as soon as possible.”
That came as a surprise given Liverpool can offer Champions League football next year. But the motive behind the decision has now surfaced.
His reasoning centred around where he believed he would be afforded the greatest opportunity to shine. Leicester were deemed more capable of offering him ‘more guaranteed gametime’.
Jamie Vardy remains a potent threat despite entering the twilight years of his career. Beyond him, only Kelechi Iheanacho is on the books to provide genuine competition for a starting role. As such, his decision was simple.
The Athletic note the deal is projected to be worth around the £23m mark.
Liverpool confirm loan departure
Meanwhile, Liverpool defender Sepp van den Berg will return to familiar surroundings in the Championship next season.
The Anfield club have confirmed the 19-year-old will link up with Preston again on loan for next season.
The Dutch defender spent the second half of the last season at Deepdale, making 16 appearances for the club. Preston were sufficiently impressed with the youngster and requested to re-sign the player.
Liverpool were also happy with the player’s progress and, according to James Pearce of The Athletic, they had first option on Van den Berg.
North End have now exercised that option and he will stay in Lancashire for the 2021/22 season. A statement on the club’s website confirmed the departure: “A deal has now been finalised for the Netherlands youth international to link up with Preston again ahead of the forthcoming campaign.”