The player Jurgen Klopp wanted to sign for Liverpool ahead of Mohamed Salah has finally been revealed.
The Reds signed the Egypt forward from the Serie A side in 2017 for a bargain £36.9m, rising to £43.9m.
The deal, at the time was a record for Liverpool, and looked to be somewhat of a gamble after Salah’s time at Chelsea had gone wrong.
Salah scored just two goals in 19 games and was loaned to Fiorentina and Roma before he made a permanent move to Rome in the summer of 2016 for a reported fee of €15m.
The pacy striker impressed in Serie A with 29 goals in 65 appearances for Roma, which alerted Liverpool.
The rest, as they say, is history, with Salah going on to become one of the club’s deadliest-ever attackers having hit a staggering 91 goals in 144 appearances to date.
However, it’s well documented that Klopp wasn’t the one who chose to bring Salah to Anfield, with Liverpool chief executive Peter Moore revealing back in February that the German had to be persuaded to sign the Egyptian by the club’s analytics team, who report in to sporting director Michael Edwards.
“Mo is a great story. He came in from Roma and that was the sports analytics team that spotted him,” Moore said.
“Obviously, people see him from Chelsea – remember, he was a Chelsea player – and [Jose] Mourinho didn’t rate him and they let him go,” Moore told Soccer Laduma in a Q&A at Cape Town Official Liverpool Supporters Club.
“He went on to Fiorentina and ended up at Roma, but there was something, analytically, that our sports science team saw in him and kept popping his name to the top of the list.”
Plenty of alternatives were thrown up as alternatives back in summer 2017 and The Times’ Paul Joyce explained the Egyptian was only Klopp’s fourth-choice target with Christian Pulisic, Julian Draxler and Julian Brandt all wanted ahead of Salah.
Joyce wrote: “Liverpool scouted about 15 wide players between missing out on Salah and signing him.
“Klopp has conceded that it was Dave Fallows, head of scouting and recruitment, Barry Hunter, the chief scout, and Michael Edwards, the sporting director, whose background checks extended to spying missions at training camps as well as matches, who constantly pushed his case.”
And now Evening Standard journalist David Lynch has revealed it was actually Draxler, whom Klopp moved for as a first priority. He says their €36m offer was accepted by his then club Wolfsburg, but the Germany star rebuffed their efforts and instead opted to sign for Paris Saint-Germain instead.
That move to the Ligue 1 giants may not have worked out so well for Draxler, though it’s one that has for Liverpool given the success Salah has since enjoyed.
Klopp wanted Gotze before Mane
Furthermore, Lynch also writes that Klopp had also targeted a move for Mario Gotze when it became apparent he would be leaving Bayern Munich after a disappointing spell. However, the German instead chose to return to previous club Borussia Dortmund, and leaving Liverpool to evebtually move for Sadio Mane instead.
The 27-year-old attacking midfielder will become a free agent again in the summer after his agent confirmed he will be leaving Dortmund for the second time in his career.