If Saul's available on loan are Liverpool daft not to throw the kitchen sink trying to get him? 🤔
One Liverpool star has flourished in midfield... but can Klopp afford to trust him again?
Speculation around Saúl Ñíguez’s future has once again reignited - this time with arguably more reliable reporting in the form of an update from renowned transfer news guru Fabrizio Romano.
The Sky Sports journalist tweeted confirmation of the player’s likely departure from the Spanish capital, despite having played the full 180 minutes of Atletico Madrid’s opening two La Liga fixtures (and assisting once).
“He’s ready for PL move,” the Sky Sports reporter ended the tweet.
It should be music to the recruitment team at Liverpool’s ears, except, it apparently isn’t.
According to Romano’s information, Chelsea have already made their interest clear (if not quite loud) with a loan bid and an option to buy attached.
Manchester United aren’t quite at the stage of an offer though have reportedly enquired once more after the Spanish international.
Liverpool - once heavily linked with a move for the midfielder in a transfer triangle involving Barcelona and a proposed swap deal for former Los Colchoneros star Antoine Griezmann - weren’t given a passing mention.
Which begs the question: why?
Admittedly, we’re no longer in the habit of going after players of or above Saúl’s age group; Jurgen Klopp tends to prefer training the next superstar rather than buying one.
That being said, there have been some notable exceptions made for that select group of elite stars who are simply too good to turn away (Thiago Alcantara, anyone?).
It’s early doors but if Diego Simeone’s outfit is prepared to accept a loan offer from a prospective suitor, Liverpool should be absolutely all over it.
Having cleared space in the non-homegrown quota following the departure of Xherdan Shaqiri (Loris Karius would take Liverpool up to the maximum of 17 but the club would be far more likely to freeze the German out of the squad in that case), there is now technically a spare seat on offer.
Given just how essential a figure Georginio Wijnaldum was to Klopp’s first-choice XI, it would seem inexplicable for the club not to take advantage of Saúl’s talents, especially if a loan deal is on the table.
Going off of one of our former No.5’s best traits - availability - the Spaniard wouldn’t be a bad fit to slot into the midfield given he only missed 14% and 8% of the total league fixtures available in his last two season with Atletico Madrid respectively.
It’s not quite the under 6% figure boasted by Wijnaldum over the course of his entire Liverpool career but it’s far from being shabby.
So, why isn’t the club absolutely all over this?
Well, the early signs from the two opening Premier League games for Jurgen Klopp’s men suggest that they could very well end up coping just fine without the now PSG star in their ranks.
Missing the likes of Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara - a midfield trio many presume to be Liverpool’s strongest available combination - for much of the clashes with Norwich City and Burnley, Klopp had to get creative.
James Milner, at the tender age of 35, led the Merseysiders out for their 3-0 victory over Daniel Farke’s newly-promoted Canaries, with a sizeable chunk of minutes likewise handed to injury prone stars Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Against Burnley, Klopp kept the faith in the Guinean international but swapped out ‘The Ox’ and Milner for skipper Jordan Henderson and young starlet Harvey Elliott.
Keita, it has to be said, performed admirably in both ties in a slightly more subdued, ‘selfless’ (as James Pearce rightly put it) role than his talents typically demand, more resemblant to Wijnaldum than the more aggressive, hunting displays the 26-year-old is known for.
Back in May, as Liverpool were mid charting a path back into the top four, Klopp confidently declared that Naby’s time at Liverpool was far from finished.
“We will make changes from time to time definitely, but it’s not like we pick now seven, eight, nine players to change and say, ‘Maybe we can win it like this’,” the 54-year-old said. “The long-term future of Naby Keita, from my point of view, is here, yes.”
The former Dortmund boss could have been merely shelving the matter until the summer window opened but his comments have since been proven true.
In two games, Keita has already played 164 minutes. To put that into context, the midfielder managed only 521 minutes in the English top-flight across the entirety of the last season - that’s almost a third of his total minutes amassed last term.
The early signs are very encouraging.
But - and it’s a big one - Liverpool are then reliant on the former RB Leipzig star remaining consistently available for an entire campaign.
Presumably, of course, once the likes of Fabinho, Thiago and Henderson are all up to speed, the demands of the Premier League and Champions League won’t rest entirely on the Guinean’s shoulders.
Nonetheless, considering the likelihood of one, if not all, the three starting options being out for some period of time this term, Keita will be called into action far more regularly this season than the last.
Judging on recent history, it would be hopeful at best to trust in him making over 20 appearances in the English top-flight - a feat not accomplished since the 2018/19 campaign.
However, if Keita can become a reliable option for Klopp to turn to, as he has already indicated with his starring role in Liverpool’s opening fixtures, the German’s faith in his squad will be more than vindicated.
Though the club would be missing out on a tremendously gifted player in Saúl Ñíguez in favour of trusting in the squad, it’s worth remembering that at one time the Liverpool manager considered Naby Keita to be one of the two best midfielders in the Bundesliga alongside - you guessed it - Thiago Alcantara.
The Reds already have the quality many have urged them to pursue in the window. It’s just a question of availability.
If you’re of fan of this kind of content, all completely ad-free, then feel free to hit the subscribe button below and become an EOTK Insider. Dig into exclusive tidbits reserved only for our subscribers!