Rumour Mongering: Beyond Thunderdome Edition

Milos Bicanski

Running through the names linked to Liverpool as the transfer window nears its end, with a focus on Tiago Ilori, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, and Andriy Yarmolenko.

It all started so promisingly. Simon Mognolet. Iago Aspas. Luis Alberto. Kolo Toure. And a net earn of nearly £5M that hinted at more to come. Then Henrikh Mkhitaryan went to Dortmund. Diego Costa stayed in Spain. Willian looked to London. Now, with only four days left before it closes, Liverpool desperately need at least one strong signing at each end of the pitch if the club is to count the transfer window a success.

The apocalypse arrives on Monday, but before then, as Liverpool scramble for a few late signings to fill needs and hopefully close the gap between where the club is now and where they want to be, a look at where things stand…

Andriy Yarmolenko Dynamo Kyiv - Winger
Age: 23 - Games Played: 173 - Goals: 55

Eleven goals in 32 appearances for Ukraine

Last week, despite there having until then been no serious links to the player, betting sites suddenly cut odds on Andriy Yarmolenko arriving at Liverpool before the close of the transfer window. Now, a handful of Ukrainian papers are reporting Liverpool have made a bid just shy of £20M for the player and that a deal is not only possible—it may be close to completion. However, as yet there have been no sources with links to Liverpool suggesting a move for the player is imminent.

After missing out on a series of big-name attackers who could conceivably take on a wide role in Brendan Rodgers' system, Yarmolenko on paper at least does appear to fill a position Liverpool have been trying—and failing—to address since the window opened. The imposing 23-year-old winger, quick and fond of a stepover despite being built like a stereotypical centre half or target striker, would appear to have the physical tools to make an impact in the Premier League.

He has also been remarkably consistent at the club level since establishing himself as a regular in Kyiv's starting eleven, scoring 42 goals in 122 appearances in all competitions over the past three seasons and tallying nearly as many assists. His scoring record at the international level over the same period has provided a similar return, and Yarmolenko was Ukraine's standout player at last summer's European Championships.

Kyriakos Papadopoulos Schalke 04 - Centre Back
Age: 21 - Games Played: 92 - Goals: 7

Youngest ever Superleague Greece debut at 15 for Olympiacos

With Liverpool down to one fit and experienced centre back—and with that centre back being the historically injury prone Daniel Agger—it's inevitable that links to Schalke's Kyriakos Papadopoulos would resurface. The problem, of course, is that Papadopoulos comes with injury concerns of his own and, were he to arrive, he might slot in right next to Kolo Toure, Martin Skrtel, Sebastian Coates, and Martin Kelly on the list of Liverpool defenders who may or may not play again any time soon.

Schalke are rumoured to be holding out for a £13M fee while Liverpool are understandably hesitant to pay that much for a player whose long-term injury prospects remain uncertain. It is believed the English club have proposed a deal that would pay Schalke a loan fee now along with a guaranteed £12M for a permanent move at the end of the season should Papadopoulos meet certain fitness benchmarks—potentially taking the total value of the deal above £13M, but only if he stays healthy.

Schalke's desire not to let Papadopoulos leave on a loan-to-buy deal if at all possible could signal serious doubts about his fitness at the Bundesliga outfit. However, it could also simply be a reflection of the club's dire financial situation and a need to get cash in now, much as was the case with Valencia's reluctance to accept a loan-to-buy deal for Aly Cissokho earlier in the summer.

Tiago Ilori Sporting Clube de Portugal - Centre Back
Age: 20 - Games Played: 12 - Goals: 1

Rumours linking Liverpool to Sporting youngster Tiago Ilori had gone quiet of late after it was widely reported the club were interested in bringing the 20-year-old defender to England early in the summer. At the time, Liverpool were rumoured to have bid £3M while Sporting were holding out for £6M, and with the sides unable to bridge the gap the deal fizzled. Now, it's widely believed Liverpool have renewed the chase.

It's difficult to see the 20-year-old Ilori as being ready to step in at the Premier League level immediately after having only played 12 first team matches in all competitions for Sporting, but whether he's a name for the future or the present, Portuguese newspaper O Jogo claims Liverpool have been given permission to speak to the player—which, if true, would suggest a deal is imminent.

Odds & Ends

Elsewhere, Liverpool could follow the signing of Kolo Toure earlier in the summer by capturing a second City centre half if reports of a £7M bid for 31-year-old Joleon Lescott are to be believed. Meanwhile, rumours linking the club with a move for £12M-rated Mamadou Sakho remain prominent, as do rumblings concerning the possibility Liverpool could bring in Victor Moses on loan. Though when it comes to whispers of a Fernando Torres return to Anfield, the less said about such ridiculous rumours the better.

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