Now the World Cup has reached the halfway stage, we’ve got one eye on the rest of the tournament and the other on the approaching Premier League season. Liverpool’s squad – those players who aren’t involved in the tournament, at least – report back for pre-season training on July 2, and the build-up to the 2018-19 begins.
Boss Jurgen Klopp will be looking to strengthen his squad. He’s already added midfielders Naby Keita and Fabinho but is sure to want further signings, and it would be a major surprise if he hasn’t had scouts all over the World Cup. Here are four players who should be on Liverpool’s radar as potential signings:
Goalkeeper – Yann Sommer
Switzerland are something of a surprise package at this tournament – although they’re ranked No.6 in the world their chances of reaching the final with William Hill are still some way behind a list of favourites. Still, after holding Brazil 1-1 and coming from behind to stun Serbia 2-1, they’ve started well. A major reason for that is their strong-performing defence, behind which goalkeeper Yann Sommer has been excellent. Let’s face it, if there’s one single position Liverpool need to recruit in this summer, it’s goalkeeper. And not just a back-up either, a No.1. Liverpool might be eyeing up Roma’s Alisson Becker but Sommer could be a smart call. He’s been at Borussia Monchengladbach for four years, so has been playing a good level, and turns 30 at the end of 2018 – a great age for a ‘keeper. He perhaps wouldn’t be a glamorous signing but could be the safe pair of hands Liverpool need.
Defender – Manuel Akanji
Virgil van Dijk has been a revelation since joining from Southampton, and Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren have both improved in recent months but Klopp may feel he needs another central defender in his squad, especially with question marks around Ragnar Klavan. Manuel Akanji has been excellent so far for Switzerland. At just 22 years of age, he’s a real prospect, and can also play at right-back too – it never hurts to have versatile players in the squad. Akanji is just six months into his career with Borussia Dortmund, Klopp’s former club, having signed from FC Basel in January, but Liverpool have the financial muscle to make a lucrative transfer offer.
Creative midfielder – Julian Brandt
The Reds still need a creative attacking player, with a Philippe Coutinho-shaped hole in the starting X1. Liverpool have been linked with both Marco Asensio and Hirving Lozano, but the former might be tough to prize away from Real Madrid, while there will be fierce competition for the latter (not that Liverpool couldn’t win that, of course). Another option could be Julian Brandt. The Germany star can play in a range of attacking midfield roles – right, left and central – and scored nine in 34 appearances for Bayern Leverkusen last season. We’ve seen glimpses of his ability in this tournament; he came on a substitute to hit the post with a piledriver against Sweden. At just 22, he’s got bags of potential.
No.10 – James Rodriguez
It’s been four years since James Rodriguez made the world sit up and take notice because of his superb performances at Brazil 2014. Now, he’s at it again, inspiring slow starters Colombia to a 3-0 win over Poland, including a sumptuous pass to create a goal for Juan Cuadrado. At club level, though, his future seems a bit cloudy. His transfer to Real Madrid didn’t really work out, and he’s been on loan at Bayern Munich for two years. The Bundesliga giants have an option to buy Rodriguez but there have been multiple reports that Liverpool are also keen. It would be a massive deal, a marquee signing that would be a huge statement of intent from the Reds. Rodriguez turns 27 this summer, so his prime years are ahead of him, and he’d give Liverpool so much in terms of goals and assists. It would be a big transfer to pull off – but Klopp can be very persuasive…