West Ham and Newcastle hovering over Liverpool star who’s ‘expected to leave’ ahead of £97m transfer saga

Liverpool defenders Nat Phillips, Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk

A potential £97m arrival at Anfield will force a Liverpool centre-back out and Newcastle and West Ham have both been linked with providing a new home within the Premier League, per reports.

Liverpool’s primary focus in the upcoming summer window will be overhauling their under-powered midfield. Liverpool won’t activate the option in Arthur Melo’s loan deal from Juventus, while Fabrizio Romano recently claimed there’s no plans in place to offer extensions to Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The pair will both become free agents at season’s end.

However, Romano also stressed an arrival at centre-half could be on the cards.

The Reds are among a handful of elite clubs chasing RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol. The Croatian was powerless to prevent Erling Haaland scoring five at the Etihad on Tuesday night, though one poor display should not detract from an overall impressive body of work.

The 21-year-old Croatian signed a new deal with Leipzig in September that contains a release clause. The clause will activate in the summer of 2024 and is worth €110m (approx. £97m).

A piece from the Athletic runs the rule over Gvardiol’s many potential suitors, including Real Madrid, Juventus, Man City, Chelsea and, of course, Liverpool.

The article acknowledges Liverpool’s main goal will be addressing their midfield issues. As such, a Gvardiol move for the sort of fee Leipzig would command might be out of reach this summer.

Chelsea previously saw a £77.4m bid for Gvardiol rejected last summer. That gives an indication of the type of fee required even before the release clause is set in stone.

In any case, Liverpool will be in the mix if Gvardiol is on the move and will hope their strong relationship with Leipzig bears fruit. The Reds have previously signed Keita and Ibrahima Konate from the Bundesliga side.

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Liverpool exit at centre-half ‘expected’

One consequence of a potential Gvardiol move is the likely exit of Nat Phillips.

The 25-year-old continues to toil away as Liverpool’s fifth-choice centre-half and if a new face arrives, will have no place on Merseyside. Virgil van Dijk, Konate, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez are all favoured ahead of Phillips at present.

However, the report notes that even if Gvardiol doesn’t sign with Liverpool, Phillips’ time may be up anyway.

The defender is reportedly ‘expected to leave’ in search of more regular game-time – something he’ll never get at Anfield.

Showcasing that point is the fact he’s accrued just 66 minutes of action in the Premier League and Champions League combined this term.

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Phillips has come close to leaving Liverpool outright in the past, though the Reds have always seemed to pick up an injury or two at the most inopportune times.

He was heavily linked with Bournemouth over the summer who he helped gain promotion to the top flight the season prior while on loan. However, a reported £15m price tag saw the Cherries walk away.

Sports Mole add their take to the story, noting both West Ham and Newcastle showed interest in Phillips in January.

A move obviously did not come to pass, though it may be a different story six months later.

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