Dominik Szoboszlai has inadvertently added to Pep Guardiola’s ‘frustration’ in the transfer market as Liverpool receive an overlooked boost ahead of the new season.
With just over two weeks now until Liverpool kick off their Premier League season at Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Reds fans will increasingly be checking their phones for transfer updates.
Jürgen Klopp’s side still have a lot to do in the market, with a number six surely the top priority as Fabinho heads for a move to Saudi Pro League side Al-Ittihad. To that end, Liverpool have made a bid for Roméo Lavia from Southampton and intend to table another (via The Athletic).
The club could also be looking to replace Jordan Henderson, who has now officially sealed a shock move to Al-Ettifaq, while a centre-back could also be on the cards.
That’s quite a long to-do list at this point in the window, but in some consolation, the team that set the benchmark wasn’t busy at all.
Manchester City’s only signing so far is Mateo Kovačić, acquired from Chelsea for $39m (£30m/€35m) and few would say he represents a progression from İlkay Gündoğan , who despite the club’s efforts to tie him down, Barcelona moved on to a new contract.
Riyad Mahrez will follow Gündoğan after City agreed a $39 million deal with Al-Ahli amid serious doubts over the future of Bayern Munich’s top target Kyle Walker and Bernardo Silva (via The Telegraph).
When it comes to new signings, priority for Manchester City goes to RB Leipzig’s Joško Gvardiol, the 21-year-old who is widely regarded as the best young centre-back in world football, but the search has dragged on.
Last week it was reported that Cityzens had finally agreed a deal for a player they had been searching for all summer, but Leipzig sporting director Max Eberl quickly shut them down, insisting on a return from the club after depositing $77m in a comfortable financial position (£60m/€70m) with Dominik Szoboszlai moving to Anfield.
“There is no deal with Manchester City. Not even close,” he told Goal. “The fact is that Man City would like him. At the moment we are still a long way away.
“Szoboszlai’s transfer has given us financial security. We don’t need money. We prefer Joško to stay. We are not a club that blocks anything. We are transparent. But we have our ideas and we want them to come to fruition.”
This, coupled with the aforementioned question marks over key players, appears to be holding everything back at City. Gvardiol is such a unique talent, likely to require a world record, that it’s hard to imagine City switching to a plan B just like that, especially when the player is “desperate” to get involved (according to The Mirror).
Pep Guardiola has apparently become “frustrated” with the delay in securing the deal, and has run into the same problem Liverpool had with Fabinho.
It was in mid-July that the Reds reportedly cleared the Brazilian to seal a move to Al-Ittihad (via Sky Sports), but then things went rather quietly before it emerged this week that the deal was at risk (via The Athletic ).
While the transfer is now expected to go ahead (via David Lynch) and the player hasn’t gone to Asia with his team-mates, any further delay would help no one at Anfield. Liverpool couldn’t really go about their business until they knew where they were financially – Fabinho is expected to rake in a significant $52m (£40m/€46m) – and what his team would look like.
Finally, the Reds have now been able to make the move to Lavia, but Guardiola is still facing his own block further down Manchester.
It is still too early to make predictions, and Manchester City could finally have his man, along with further reinforcements. However, we are talking about the first team to win the treble since 1999, so even if no concrete progress is made, it will still be extremely difficult to achieve.
But for Liverpool, who remain ambitious to win the Premier League despite last season’s woes, it’s encouraging that the favorites have yet to send the sort of menacing transfer statements we’re used to.
At the moment, it seems that the transfer market dictates City, rather than the other way around.
In previous years, Liverpool fans were worried about rival affairs, particularly those on Guardiola’s side. But this year they have been able to focus fully on rebuilding their club and a worthwhile conclusion to this process should inspire widespread confidence.