Liverpool mightn’t have been in action on Tuesday night, but their fans may have been paying close attention to one Carabao Cup game in particular.
Amid the Reds’ ongoing links with Cheick Doucoure, for whom a contract offer has reportedly been tabled, supporters will have noted with intrigue that the midfielder had no part to play in Crystal Palace’s comeback victory against Plymouth Argyle.
Indeed, as per cpfc.co.uk, the Mali international wasn’t even in the matchday squad for the Eagles’ trip to Home Park, a potentially telling omission given the context of the Anfield rumours and the proximity to the close of the summer transfer window.
On the one hand, it probably came as no surprise that the 23-year-old wasn’t in Roy Hodgson’s starting XI last night, with Premier League clubs often fielding much-changed line-ups in the early rounds of the Carabao Cup.
The Palace boss made seven changes from last weekend’s top-flight clash against Brentford, but of the 11 players to have started every league game for the Eagles so far this term (WhoScored), only two weren’t in the matchday squad against Argyle (cpfc.co.uk).
Doucoure was one of those (alongside Joachim Andersen), so it’s not as if Hodgson completely eschewed his regular starters for the cup tie. Indeed, Jefferson Lerma and Tyrick Mitchell started last night, while Jordan Ayew, Eberechi Eze and Marc Guehi all came off the bench.
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There may be an entirely different reason for the Mali midfielder not to have made the trip to Devon, but in the context of his ongoing links with Liverpool, speculation will inevitably intensify in the wake of his absence from the south Londoners’ squad on Tuesday.
His omission could give Reds fans increased hope that their club will sign the 23-year-old before Friday night’s deadline, giving Jurgen Klopp a most welcome Premier League-proven defensive midfield addition.
In terms of what happens with Doucoure, it promises to be a fascinating 60 hours or so until the transfer window closes.