Exclusive: Why journalists disagree on Thiago; Salah’s future and what really happened with Coutinho – Kevin Palmer

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EOTK recently spoke with Sunday World journalist Kevin Palmer, most known for breaking the Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool story in December 2017.

The reporter went deep with us on multiple subjects, such as the transfer situation at Liverpool – offering some interesting snippets on the likes of Thiago and Coutinho – and you can check out the lot below!

Also, give Kevin a follow on Twitter, here!

On Liverpool last season….

One of the best seasons we have ever seen in English football, as simple as that. To have the record they had up to the Watford game was legendary stuff and even if they failed to maintain momentum, this team should be recognised as all-time greats. Up there will all the best Liverpool teams. I work with John Aldridge every week and he agrees with me on this. If they can add a couple of Premier League titles and maybe one more Champions League, this will be the best Liverpool team ever.

On Transfers….

Klopp and Liverpool have been clear that they will not spend money they do not have. Unlikely clubs with sugar daddy owners, they cannot dip into the reserves of an oil-rich state and sign players like Lionel Messi. That is frustrating for Klopp and for the fans and eventually, it could undermine Liverpool’s ambitions. City/Chelsea/PSG will clearly have a big advantge for the next few years, especially with FFP now seemingly defunct.

On Thiago/Wijnaldum….

This one seems to have been driven by Thiago and his advisers from day one. He clearly wants to go to Liverpool, Klopp has clearly given them encouragement, but Liverpool’s stance from day one is it will not happen. FSG don’t sign players of that age, with no sell-on value. It is not their kind of deal. That could change if Gini Wijnaldum fails to sign a new contract, but it looks like this is an unlikely deal unless the owners want to give Klopp a gift of a player he has always admired. I would say Liverpool should sign Thiago. He is a class player, wants to be at Liverpool and the sell-on fee should not be a big issue for a player of that quality if he is available for €30m. Liverpool should sign him, but I said in July (before anyone else reported this) that the deal would not happen unless Wijnaldum leaves and that now appears to be the case.

On Different reporting on Thiago here and in Germany….

Liverpool have made it clear from the off that the reports from Germany are not true. There have been some claims out of Germany that a deal for Thiago is in place and he is ‘certain’ to play for Liverpool next season, but that may be his people pushing that agenda. As I have found down the years, journalists and reporters are used to getting messages out there and they might not always be the accurate message, but one that suits one party in a transfer story. That could be from a club, an agent or a player. Liverpool have been very careful about briefing on transfers since the Van Dijk story, when word emerged that they had met with the player and set up a deal without Southampton’s permission. It is now clear that Liverpool are interested in Thiago, but only if Wijnaldum leaves. The guys reporting he is certain to go to Liverpool are getting their information from a different source, but it is dangerous stating categorically that a transfer will happen until you are told by one or two parties involved that it is a done deal. Journalists don’t decide if and when transfers happen and plenty have been exposed down the years for falling into the trap of claiming to know than they do. Beware of ‘journalists’ who claim to have inside sources at most of the world’s biggest clubs as no-one has got that kind of access.

On Coutinho…

Liverpool don’t want him! Simple as that. The story we did in the Sunday World saying he wanted to come back to Liverpool got a lot of attention and it is 100 per-cent accurate. Coutinho would ideally like to return to Liverpool and you can see why. They have won everything since he left. Partly because they bought so well with the money they got for him. His agent (Kia Joorabchian) is trying to get him a move this summer and Arsenal or Tottenham look most likely. For what it’s worth, I think he would have been great at Liverpool on a one-year loan. A class act who would add to a brilliant squad.

On This season….

They are good enough to win one of them for sure. I see this team winning trophies for the next 4-5 years if they keep all the key parts together. Salah is the one who might look to move on at some point, but no one can afford Liverpool’s best players this summer and they would be mad to leave this great team. It doesn’t get any better than this!

On Where to improve…

They should have signed Timo Werner, but the money was too much for them with agents fees/wages/fee. That could have been a perfect solution to the forward line, even though Minamino has looked good in pre-season. I interviewed Rio Ferdinand a couple of weeks back and he thinks Liverpool could be exposed if their key men are out for a long period and Werner would have added to the forward options. They also need another centre-back and I’d like to see a creative midfielder coming in… Thiago fits the bill.

And Finally….

You may or may not know that the biggest transfer story I ever broke was Van Dijk to Liverpool:

A few thoughts on how this came about. So many ‘transfer experts’ on Twitter were convinced Van Dijk would go to Liverpool the previous summer, but I have great contacts at Southampton and they simply refused to let him go to Liverpool on a point of principle. They were furious about the meeting with Klopp, Edwards, Team VVD that was not permitted by Southampton and not even the apology from Liverpool solved that problem.

When it became clear that Van Dijk would not settle back into work at Southampton, they decided the only option was to sell.

However, Liverpool were NOT going to pay the £75m asking price and continued to refuse until mid-December 2017, when they suddenly agreed. Southampton were confused at the time as they didn’t see anyone paying that much, but Liverpool had a dramatic change of heart, presumably because they had agreed to sell Coutinho to Barcelona.

The story was a massive coup for me personally. To break a story that big is a rarity for any journalist and Van Dijk’s success at Liverpool has added to the gravitas of the moment. It’s not often you get a story that big, so no harm in reminding people about it from time to time!

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