Liverpool could finally sign a replacement for former playmaker Philippe Coutinho after being linked with a move for Real Madrid midfielder Marco Asensio.
According to reports in Spain (as relayed by the Liverpool Echo), the Reds are ‘in the mix’ for the 25-year-old’s signature this summer, although they’re expected to face competition from fellow Premier League sides Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.
The report states that Los Blancos are set to demand around £34 million for Asensio’s services, with the Gunners said to be leading the race for the highly-rated creative talent.
When Coutinho departed Anfield back in January 2018 for an astronomical fee, one potentially rising to £142m, Jurgen Klopp didn’t spend the funds generated from his sale on a direct replacement.
Instead, the enigmatic German tactician brought in centre-back Virgil van Dijk and goalkeeper Alisson Becker from Southampton and AS Roma, respectively.
Klopp’s bold move was certainly justified as the duo played a crucial part in Liverpool’s subsequent Premier League and Champions League successes, but now the time may have come finally sign the Brazilian’s successor.
Liverpool struggled last season, relinquishing their top-flight title without a fight. And while their woes were largely down to a severe injury crisis, a huge drop-off in form from their attacking players also heavily contributed.
Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino were way below their scintillating best in 2020/21, and Klopp didn’t have the strength in depth or the variety of options within his squad to change his team shape to alter the Anfield outfit’s fortunes.
The lack of a natural No.10 meant he had to stick with his usual 4-3-3 despite the Reds’ poor performances. However, Asensio’s arrival would provide a new element to the club’s forward line.
He burst onto the scene in Madrid following his arrival from boyhood club Mallorca, establishing himself as one of Europe’s most promising young talents with a string of impressive performances.
Asensio’s outstanding displays caught the eye of several onlookers, including Madrid legend Guti.
“Asensio is a lot better player than I was. He has an unlimited ceiling, his head is very well furnished, and will depend on what he wants to do in the world of football. The future is in his feet,” said Guti.
A ruptured cruciate ligament in 2020 stunted the midfielder’s progress, though, limiting him to just 10 appearances throughout the 2019/20 campaign.
Nevertheless, he made a solid return to action last term, scoring seven goals and providing two assists in 48 appearances, and at just 25, he still has plenty of time to fulfil his potential.
It remains to be seen whether Liverpool follow up this reported interest in Asensio with a concrete offer, but he could provide the spark in the final third that the club have been desperately missing over the last 12 months, and Klopp should surely be contemplating making a move.