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Liverpool have received a HUGE AFCON boost but it should not stop us from making one transfer 💰
Beyond Diogo Jota, Liverpool's backup forward options don't look great...
Liverpool have been handed a significant boost regarding the availability of the club’s African contingent, with the African Cup of Nations only set to run alongside two league fixtures.
Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita - all of whom are expected to feature in the international tournament running from 9th January - 6th February - will, theoretically, only be unavailable for the Reds’ hosting of Brentford and a visit to Crystal Palace during that period.
It’s welcome news for Jurgen Klopp, who will have no doubt been harbouring some concerns over the loss of his two main goal threats up top.
Though this suggests, to a certain extent, that there’s less of a risk of our form beyond the turn of the year falling off of a cliff, the German should not succumb to a false sense of security.
We at EOTK Insider can’t imagine the club being inflicted with an injury crisis anywhere close to the scale of that which effectively ended Liverpool’s title retention hopes last term. However, the options available beyond our prestigious front-three should inspire more than a modicum of concern.
Even assuming Salah continues to keep a tight grip on his scoring boots, we can’t afford a repeat of the dire form that plagued the likes of our No.10 and Bobby Firmino for large portions of the season.
Given that, beyond Diogo Jota, our backup options include an inexperienced, albeit talented, Harvey Elliott and misfiring Anfield favourites Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri (both of whom failed to rack up a single league goal last year), we don’t exactly possess the right quality of depth for the forward line.
It’s not an area we’re suggesting needs a complete overhaul - parting ways with Shaqiri and Origi to make way for a £30-40m forward would be a more than adequate solution to the problem at hand.
If reports are to be believed, goalmachine Patson Daka is supposedly keen on making a switch to Merseyside and would fit the bill pretty well given his reasonable £17m (according to Football Insider) valuation and relative youth at 22-years-of-age.
An additional benefit worth bearing in mind is that attacker’s availability wouldn’t be affected by AFCON due to his national side’s (Zambia) failure to qualify past the group stage.
There are alternatives closer to home, if Premier League experience is a more desirable trait, with both Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins and Leeds United’s Raphinha linked.
At the current point in time, however, the latter pair could be priced out of our reach due to domestic premiums, potentially forcing Klopp to look further afield in order to bolster his forward line.
While it would appear that the club is working on a midfield signing, with reports from reliable sources confirming our interest in Bundesliga sensation Florian Neuhaus, we at EOTK Insider would expect the recruitment team to move on swiftly to the forward department shortly after, if not before.
One benefit of looking at a Daka-esque target would be that Michael Edwards and co. wouldn’t have the obstacle of the European Championship to navigate past in order to begin negotiations, though it remains to be seen whether our interest in the Zambian is concrete.
Ultimately, though the impact of AFCON may have been limited somewhat, Liverpool cannot afford to once again gamble on our current options being enough to carry us through a campaign and fail to invest in key areas of the squad this summer.
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