Liverpool have been told they should be looking no further than James Ward-Prowse in their hunt to sign a top-class replacement for Georginio Wijnaldum in their midfield.
The Netherlands international appears to be moving ever closer to an exit from Anfield. He is into the final two months of his contract, but the Reds have made no concrete moves over an extension. For his part, meanwhile, Wijnaldum has previously stressed that he has “no news” over his plans.
Talk over the midfielder’s future was rife earlier in the campaign, but speculation has since died down a little.
Indeed, his agent is already thinking about finding Wijnaldum a new club on a free transfer this summer.
Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has previously outlined his admiration for his fellow Dutchman. However, agent Humphry Nijman has publicly asked Bayern Munich to make their feelings known over the player.
Liverpool have, however, been able to plan for Wijnaldum’s departure for months. Udinese talent Rodrigo de Paul has been mentioned as a successor. Brighton’s Yves Bissouma is also an option with Jurgen Klopp making personal checks on the Malian midfielder.
And on Saturday, strong claims in the German media claimed Florian Neuhaus was ready to prioritise a move to Anfield.
However, BBC pundit Garth Crooks reckons Liverpool should tread a familar path to sign a replacement. Indeed, he has urged Klopp and Co to move for Saints captain Ward-Prowse.
“He (Ward-Prowse) was instrumental in everything Southampton did last Tuesday against Crystal Palace,” Crooks wrote.
“Danny Ings and Che Adams may have got the goals that night but it is Ward-Prowse who makes my team. The Saints demolished the Eagles and then did the same to Fulham a few days later, with Adams, Nathan Tella and Theo Walcott scoring this time, and Ward-Prowse getting an assist.”
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Speaking specifically about a move to Liverpool, Crooks reckons he could be on the move this summer.
“Ward-Prowse, in my opinion, has been Southampton’s player of the season. They will do well to keep him. He’s a Liverpool player if ever I saw one.”
The likes of Adam Lallana, Sadio Mane, Virgil van Dijk and Nathaniel Clyne have all swapped St Mary’s for Anfield in recent years.
Crooks a big fan of Ward-Prowse
It’s not the first time Crooks has tipped the Reds to make a move for the England midfielder either.
Earlier this season, he described Ward-Prowse as a ready-made replacement for Wijnaldum.
“I am convinced Southampton would be in serious trouble were it not for James Ward-Prowse,” he said.
“We know he can take a free-kick and that he is capable of covering the ground, but he also has a superb temperament. The Saints had no-one better to take their penalty under their current circumstances.
“His contribution against Sheffield United thereafter was immense.
“It’s clear Georginio Wijnaldum is almost certain to leave Liverpool at the end of the season for Barcelona. I can’t think of a better replacement than Ward-Prowse.”