Simply the cheaper transfer option for Liverpool?

Callum McManaman, Wigan

It will be a busy transfer window for Liverpool this summer. After a positive first season with Brendan Rodgers, the platform is set for the club to push towards a top four finish next season. But that can’t be achieved without some important deals this summer. The retiring Jamie Carragher will need to be replaced, while Rodgers looks to complete his squad ahead of a big next season.

After the club were so heavily linked with Blackpool’s Tom Ince for the last two transfer windows, it is expected that the Reds will once again bid for the young star. The 21-year-old has played a vital role in Blackpool’s season in the Championship, scoring 18 goals in the campaign. His trickery and speed have impressed both Championship and Premier League teams, as he was named in the league’s Team of the Year.

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However, with his father Paul Ince now managing Blackpool, Tom may not be sold on the cheap. Speaking back in April, Paul revealed that his son had a big price tag on him: “If you’re talking £15m for Zaha, Thomas has got to be £25m. If you compare the two, Thomas should cost more,” he told BBC Radio Lancashire.

He may have been being a protective father, or possibly trying so scare off interested clubs, but Paul must know himself that the club won’t get £25million for his son. But with Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool’s owners, having limited funds, Rodgers won’t be able to spend a big fee on a Championship player.

This is where Wigan’s relegation from the Premier League might be in Liverpool’s favour. Callum McManaman got off to a poor start in his Premier League career. His horror tackle on Newcastle’s Massadio Haidara, which was unpunished, left the player almost as a hate figure amongst some fans. Known as “that guy who nearly broke Haidara’s leg”, McManaman suddenly had a lot to prove, in order to win over the general public. Goals against Tottenham and West Brom set the boyhood Everton supporter up for his biggest challenge.

Wigan faced Manchester City in the FA Cup final, where despite being massive underdogs, Wigan went on to lift the trophy, after Ben Watson’s 92nd minute winner. But it was Callum McManaman who took the headlines, with his stunning performance earning him the Man of the Match award. The 22-year-old repeatedly skipped past Pablo Zabaleta like the Argentine defender wasn’t there, before eventually he actually wasn’t there, because he had been sent off. His performance in the final was one of many top displays in the last few months, which earned him a call up to the England Under-21s.

But after Wigan were relegated from the Premier League following their 4-1 defeat at Arsenal, McManaman is certain to leave the club in the summer. One of a handful of Wigan players who are set to be signed by Premier League clubs next season, Liverpool may have just found a cheaper alternative to Tom Ince. But there still comes a decision of who to buy.

McManaman has proved himself on the biggest of stages now, scoring goals against top Premier League sides, and terrorising possibly the best right-back in the league. Although his Premier League experience is limited, it is still more than Tom Ince’s. The Blackpool star has been incredible in the Championship, but it’s a big step up to the Premier League. Also, Ince’s dream to play in the Premier League may be delayed, by his own dad. If Paul continues to slap a huge price tag on his son, then Liverpool will almost certainly turn to McManaman instead.

For now, expect the Anfield side to enquire about both players, and buy whoever is cheaper. Both have proven themselves to be top dribblers, and capable of scoring goals.

While Rodgers may not have much of a preference as to which one he signs, FSG may tell the Northern Irishman that he can only buy whoever is cheaper, meaning Paul Ince’s extreme valuation of his son may have to be reconsidered if he wants his son to be playing in England’s top flight league.

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