As I’m sure you’ll all be aware from flicking open another cardboard door on your advent calendar this morning to reveal a lump of delicious chocolate, we are now just eleven days away from Jesus’s birthday – more commonly known as Christmas.
Indeed, there’s not much time left to make sure you’ve bought enough cards and presents for everybody, including your stereotypically impossible-to-buy-for father.
But that also means there’s not much time left for Premier League managers to get their wish lists sorted in time for Saint Nick’s annual visit on December 25th. Who, after all, is in need of Christmas magic more than the unfortunate souls plying their trade in the dugouts of our top flight?
But Liverpool gaffer Jurgen Klopp has been working hard on his for some time – since last Christmas in fact – and we at Football Fancast are lucky enough to have been given a sneak peak!
So without further ado, here are FIVE stars from Klopp’s old stomping ground, the Bundesliga, he hopes to find under his tree this Christmas…
With Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho both out injured, there’s nothing Jurgen Klopp would like more this Christmas than a brand new centre-half – or better yet, a tried and trusted one from his Bundesliga days.
Neven Subotic was not only a key player under Klopp at Borussia Dortmund, winning two Bundesliga titles and reaching the 2013 Champions League final together, but also at former club FC Mainz, arriving at Westfalenstadion with the enigmatic German in 2008.
The 27-year-old has spent much of his Black-Yellows career overshadowed by World Cup-winning centre-back partner Mats Hummels. But he’s an incredibly talented defender in his own right and particularly on the deck, through his sharp turn of pace, quality in possession and penchant for last-ditch tackles.
Whilst some Dortmund stars will be out of Liverpool’s reach without the incentive of Champions League football, the Serbian international could soon move on. He’s made just two Bundesliga appearances this season following a lengthy spell on the sidelines and may struggle to reclaim a first team place from Greek international Sokratis.
Whilst I doubt Jurgen Klopp has too many qualms with Alberto Moreno’s impressive form since taking the Anffield hot seat in October, attacking full-backs are a huge part of his philosophy and few in Europe have surpassed the offensive efforts of Wolfsburg No.3 Ricardo Rodriguez in recent seasons.
Indeed, the Swiss international – who provided a free kick assist on Tuesday night to help eliminate Manchester United from the Champions League – has claimed 13 goals, 29 assists and an incredible 180 created chances in his last 96 Bundesliga outings for Die Wolfe.
Aged just 23, many top clubs have taken note of the 32-cap international’s impressive rise since his Wolfsburg debut in January 2013, arriving from FC Zurich in a £7.5million deal.
Resultantly, however, and with three-and-a-half-years remaining on his current terms, the Volkswagen Arena outfit won’t be surrendering Rodriguez without a huge fee involved any time soon – even to merry old Saint Nick.
The current Liverpool squad lacks an out-and-out wideman, capable of stretching play through natural pace and power, and Karim Bellarabi is one of the Bundesliga’s best in that regard.
The German international bagged twelve goals and six assists in 33 Bundesliga outings last season whilst averaging an incredible 4.7 successful dribbles per match – the most of any player throughout the division and one of the best returns across Europe’s five leading top flights.
Although the 25-year-old hasn’t quite matched that standard this term, finding just two goals and two assists in the league thus far, there have been mitigating factors. Sixth-place Bayer Leverkusen have been underwhelming on the whole and Bellarabi’s found himself jostled around the starting Xi this year fielded as a forward and a No.10 for brief periods.
Nonetheless, the ten-cap international represents exactly what Liverpool should be targeting ahead of the coming transfer window. Having signed a contract extension in February, however, Bayer seem unlikely to sell in January.
And whilst we’re on the subject of Bundesliga wingers, I’m pretty sure every manager in world football would be more than content with finding Marco Reus sitting beneath their Christmas tree on December 25th.
Under Klopp’s leadership at Dortmund, the German international has emerged as one of the most consistent, lethal and prolific wingers in world football, racking up an astounding 45 goals and 28 assists in 95 Bundesliga appearances for the Westfalenstadion outfit.
Barring an imposing physique, the 26-year-old is very much the total attacking package. Through his eclectic mix of technical mastery, blistering pace, trickery and creative intelligence, Reus can score goals or provide them playing anywhere across the front-line or attacking midfield berths.
Having rejected the chance to leave Dortmund during the last two summers, it seems inevitable Reus will move to one of Europe’s major clubs over the next few years. The Klopp factor could be enough to lure him to Anfield, but Liverpool would still have to shell out somewhere in the region of £50million.
Jurgen Klopp was famed for his ability to nurture young talents at Dortmund and one of the most exciting in the Bundesliga at the minute is Schalke’s Leon Goretzka.
The 20-year-old’s enormous potential has been well-documented since his Miners debut in 2013, but it really feels like the prodigious midfielder is coming into his own this season as one of Schalke’s guaranteed starters with two assists in 14 Bundesliga appearances.
What stands out most about Goretzka is that he’s already a very complete player – perhaps most similar to former Bayern Munich and Chelsea man Michael Ballack.
This season, for example, he’s featured as a number 10, a defensive midfielder, a central midfielder, a right midfielder and a winger, whilst averaging 2.5 tackles, 2.8 interceptions, 1.6 shots, 1.2 created chances, 1.1 successful dribbles and 1.9 successful aerial duels per match – alongside a pass completion rate of 83%.
Measuring in at above 6 foot 2, the German international is also quite the force in the air, adding yet another attribute to his already formidable skills set.
Goretzka seems destined for big things, but the chances of Schalke selling anytime soon remain somewhere between zero and naught – even if their hearts are currently filled with festive cheer.