From the moment Jurgen Klopp was officially announced as Liverpool manager in October, it always seemed inevitable that virtually every Borussia Dortmund player would be linked with a move to Merseyside by the tabloids.
Klopp had a special relationship with many of his players at Westfalenstadion, the vast majority of whom he had plucked from smaller clubs at a very young age with the promise of regular first team football, and Dortmund stars are always seen as somewhat more available than counterparts of similar talent – the club filling the gap between the rest of Europe’s best and the continent’s bona fide elite.
Some of the rumours have been borderline absurd. Without meaning to sound disrespectful, Liverpool’s chances of signing Mats Hummels, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Marco Reus – all of whom encroach upon the world’s best in their respective positions – are somewhere between slim and none.
But other Dortmund stars might be more intrigued by the notion of following Klopp to Anfield and with that in mind, Football Fancast have identified FIVE players who could be tempted.
Defensive dynamo Sven Bender was a mainstay in the Borussia Dortmund starting Xi under Jurgen Klopp, registering 181 appearances across all competitions with the German at the Westfalenstadion helm.
But he’s not found such luck under successor Thomas Tuchel, who has issued the German international just three starts in the Bundesliga and preferred 20-year-old Julian Weigl at the base of midfield. Bender’s had to make do with heavy involvement in Dortmund’s Europa League campaign instead.
Lucas Leiva’s impressive performances under Klopp have demonstrated how important a defensive midfielder is to the German gaffer’s philosophy and Bender represents a player who already knows it like the back of his hand.
With the 26-year-old’s contract set to expire at the end of next season, a bid within the next two transfer windows could convince Dortmund to cash-in.
Another Klopp favourite who has suffered from the change in regime. Roman Weidenfeller served as Dortmund’s No.1 for over a decade, making 431 appearances across all competitions, but now finds himself understudy to summer signing Roman Burki.
Now 35 years of age, the German international is by no means the scintillating shot-stopper he once was – something that has become increasingly evident over the last few years.
But with Simon Mignolet’s individual errors still costing Liverpool dearly and Adam Bogdan hardly representing formidable competition for the No.1 jersey, Weidenfeller would inject some much-needed dependability into Liverpool’s goalkeeping options.
His experience would make a difference in the short-term, but most would prefer to see the Reds invest in a relatively young goalkeeper if they’re to replace Mignolet.
Currently on loan at Fiorentina, any move for Jakub Blaszczykowski would have to wait until the end of the season.
But the Poland international represents the one kind of attacking threat Liverpool’s squad currently lacks; an old-fashioned, touchline-hugging winger who can stretch games with penetrative pace and power.
Blaszczykowski was an integral part of the Dortmund side that claimed back-to-back Bundesliga titles and reached a Champions League final under Klopp, recording a career-best 14 goals in 41 appearances during the 2012/13 campaign.
His influence has admittedly waned since – hence the loan to Fiorentina – and at 29 years of age, the 75-cap international may struggle to get past Liverpool’s youth-preferring ‘transfer committee’.
But Dortmund are prepared to sell to Fiorentina permanently for just €6million and in that regard, he represents a very cheap yet very experienced solution to Liverpool’s lack of variety in attack.
Whilst the aforementioned Dortmund stars would certainly add to Liverpool’s squad, Neven Subotic has the potential to make a huge difference to their starting Xi.
He’s spent much of his Westfalenstadion career as the understated partner to World Cup winner Mats Hummels, but the Serbian international is a supremely talented centre-half in his own right and particularly on the deck, through his turn of pace, penchant for last-ditch tackles and quality on the ball.
Furthermore, although the 26-year-old signed a contract extension during the summer, he’s now working under a new manager and fighting against Greek international Sokratis for his role in the first team following a lengthy injury layoff.
Having accompanied Klopp to Dortmund from Mainz in summer 2008, the 6 foot 3 centre-half would be the ideal signing to kick off the Klopp era at Anfield, as a tried and trusted on-pitch general for the German gaffer.
But Subotic’s injury problems, managing just one Bundesliga outing so far this season, could stand in the way of a move to Merseyside.
Whilst the likes of Mats Hummels, Marco Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang seem somewhat beyond Liverpool’s reach without the added incentive of Champions League football, midfielder Ilkay Gundogan is on the peripheries of being a realistic transfer target.
The German international’s performance levels were up there with the best centre-mids in the world when Dortmund honed in on the 2013 Champions League title and he’s back to somewhere near his best following two years of injury problems, this season averaging 1.5 tackles, 2.5 interceptions, 1.1 created chances and 2.7 successful dribbles per match.
The 25-year-old wanted a move to a Champions League club during the summer but nothing materialised, paving the way for him to sign a one-year contract extension at Westfalenstadion instead.
But now due to expire at the end of next season instead of the current one, the Black-Yellows will still have little option than to sell the midfielder if they’re approached with a decent offer within the next two transfer windows.
Although Gundogan’s performances have certainly been impressive this term, top-end suitors still aren’t exactly forthcoming, so a move to Liverpool, where he can work under Klopp and prove himself in the Premier League, might just take his fancy instead.