Liverpool look set to make Alexis Mac Allister their first big signing of the summer.
The Argentine, who played a big part of his country’s January World Cup triumph, has outgrown Brighton and is closing on an Anfield switch.
Fabrizio Romano says personal terms are all but agreed and finalising a deal with Brighton will be easy because there is a release-clause in his current contract.
Argentine journalist Gaston Edul goes a step further and says the deal will be wrapped up before June 10, when Mac Allister will go international duty for two games before beginning his summer break.
Jurgen Klopp always likes his transfers done as early as possible, so the players can do a full pre-season and get integrated into the squad and crucially, begin to adapt themselves to his physical and tactical demands.
Brighton play an aggressive, pressing style anyway, which will help the 24-year-old, but so did Naby Keita at Rb Leipzig and five years after his arrival, the Guinean is leaving on a free transfer having never lived up to the hype.
Mac Allister won’t be the only new midfield signing, of course.
“Liverpool believe they have a chance of landing Chelsea star Mount,” Neil Jones says.
“Gravenberch would be of interest if Bayern Munich opted to sell, while Teun Koopmeiners (Atalanta), Matheus Nunes (Wolves) and Khephren Thuram (Nice) are among those admired,” he says.
These players are all no.8s who roam and create, bar Thuram, who is more defensive minded.
The assumption would be that Liverpool will buy Mac Allister, another similar link-man between defence and attack and then an out and out defensive midfielder, like Thuram.
The Nice star is 22-years-old and the son of France legend Lillian. His brother Marcus plays in Germany for Borussia Monchengladbach. He won his first cap for France this season and is someone who matches both defensive traits with guile and simple passing on the ball.
Considering the overall seasons endured by Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Thiago, in terms of poor form and injuries, a new anchorman is essential.
The emergence of Curtis Jones helps us in terms of no.8 options, with the hope the position will eventually be one Harvey Elliott can thrive in too, although at times this term he’s lacked the defensive nous or physicality to play there. Mac Allister and one other will provide superb depth in this role and the manner in which they adapt will likely define how we start 2023/24.
Klopp’s team is in good form, largely because of the success of the tactical decision to move Trent Alexander-Arnold into midfield when Liverpool have the ball. He’s pulled strings from deep and is improving in the hybrid role week by week.
Trent currently joins Fabinho in a double-pivot in possession, allowing the two no.8s to head forward and allow the back six (including Alisson) to buildup the play.
The Scouser even described it a few days back to the Athletic, which in turn helps understand what kind of players Liverpool will go for this summer.
“This position just opens up the whole pitch for me. I’m able to kind of dictate the flow of the game — where we attack, how we attack and at what pace. That’s exciting. I really like being able to do thatm” he began.
“Others further up the pitch have more responsibility. Hendo and Curtis (Jones), who have played the majority of recent games, have been told to kind of stay away — don’t drag players into it. So we build play with a five, six including Ali. Let us build up and we will get the ball to you guys. It’s working well but it’s a full team effort both defensively and with the ball to make it work.
“Who knows whether we would have been able to go on this run without the change of system. Everyone has bought into it and we’re also performing within it as a team. Without the performances, it doesn’t work. And, potentially, without the formation change, the performances don’t come either. They go hand in hand.”
So, two Mac Allister, another no.8, an anchorman, a right-back, a centre-back and a backup goalkeeper. The attack is stacked even with the departure of Roberto Firmino, providing Darwin Nunez can keep himself fit and fix up over the summer.
Manchester City are going to win a treble this season, which hurts. But if we get these deals right, our future is hopefully just as bright, and without 150+ financial cheating charges hanging over us.