Now that life, the universe, and everything have to move on from the wonder that is Mohammed Salah, the rumor mill has to figure out what shiny new thing that Liverpool are going to try and slowly coax in to Anfield. Those that make the mill churn seem to have latched on to the concept of some of Liverpool's needs, and most of the newer batches of rumors have been focused on the midfield.
It's important to note that there's only five days left in the window. Liverpool have had a nasty habit of their transfer deals taking a long time to get done, but they don't have that luxury now. If this squad is getting reinforced (which the club has been sending mixed messages on for over a month), they need to get it done quickly.
Age: 19 | Games Played: 21 | Goals: 1
Six Matches For Spain U21's
Late last night, links to Atletico Madrid's on-loan midfielder Saúl Ñíguez emerged. They're links that make a fair amount of sense on several levels: he's young, physically gifted, getting regular first-division playing time, and positionally flexible. That ticks all the boxes of the "typical FSG target" that we've grown accustomed to over the past few years.
He also helps deal with a position of some need: he's largely been used as a defensive midfielder this season (though he's also had spells as a center back), and while his loan club (Rayo Vallecano) have shipped goals left and right, he's generally been one of their steadier players in the defensive phase of the game. While some see his future as farther forward up the pitch, his strong, projectable 6'0" frame and skillset suggest that he'd be better deeper. There are some discipline issues to iron out, but that's hardly shocking in a 19 year old player.
Where things seem to get sticky is actually trying to get him. As mentioned earlier, while Atleti own his rights, he's currently on loan at Rayo Vallecano, and buying players who are on loan is always a tricky prospect. He has apparently spoken of dissatisfaction with that assignment in the not-too-distant past, but it seems more likely that any deal would happen in the summer rather than now. Add in the speculative nature of the link (Rodgers has apparently "had secret meetings" with Ñíguez's father) and the rumored price tag of €12 million, and this one seems to be dead in the water.
Age: 20 | Games Played: 4 (First Team), 8 (B Team) | Goals: 4 (B Team)
Ten Matches For Portugal U20's
The next player is at the heart of a truly bizarre situation in Portugal. Andre Gomes is a defensive midfielder and a highly-regarded prospect in Portugal, but has seen little first-team playing time with Benfica's first team despite his domination of the second division thanks to the presence of one Nemanja Matic. With Matic recently sold to Chelsea, many assumed that Gomes would step in to his role in the senior squad... until now.
Reports out of Portugal indicate that Benfica has sold Gomes' financial rights to his agent, Jorge Mendes (also the agent of one Jose Mourinho), for €15 million with the understanding that Mendes intends to sell Gomes to another club. While Benfica will still be able to play Gomes in the meantime, they would have no control over any agreements for the player's departure at this point.
It's believed that Mendes is targeting the Premier League as Gomes' destination, with A Bola mentioning Manchester City, Chelsea, and Liverpool. Obviously it's unlikely that Liverpool would be able to win a bidding war with those clubs (especially with €15 million being the starting point), but with his potential, it's hard not to daydream a little about what he could bring to the club.
Age: 23 | Games Played: 0 (Injured)
Seven Games Played For Brazil
One of the more interesting recent links has been to Brazilian defensive mid Romulo, late of Spartak Moscow. Romulo is a strong player who managed to work his way in to the top spot on the defensive midfield depth chart for Brazil, which is no easy feat in recent years. It's easy to see why Liverpool would be interested in him, especially in light of Lucas Leiva's unfortunate injury.
The problem is that Romulo isn't healthy himself. Despite having moved to Moscow a year and a half ago, he's only played a handful of matches for Spartak thanks to a serious knee injury he suffered in September of 2012. He's supposed to be healthy now, but with the Russian Premier League in the middle of their three-month winter break, there's no way to know for sure as an outside observer. While reinforcing midfield is a must, taking a flier on another holding mid recovering from a major injury seems... inadvisable.
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