clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Rumour Mongering: Reds Target World Cup Stars?

New, comments

As ever, a summer tournament has created a plethora of links between Liverpool Football Club and some of the brighter stars on display. Xherdan Shaqiri stories persist but now there's a goalkeeper narrative emerging. You okay, Simon?

Sometimes Xherdan got a little confused. He was in a stadium. He had his kit on. Those French lads were...ah yes!! Now he had it...
Sometimes Xherdan got a little confused. He was in a stadium. He had his kit on. Those French lads were...ah yes!! Now he had it...
Christopher Lee

Perpetual uncertainty is the most wretched of states. Flailing about in the fug of qualm-ridden apprehension for any length of time can leave one drained and utterly disorientated. In many ways, not knowing anything is worse than an absolute assuredness of a woebegone cheerless future. This scribbler's darkest days as a Liverpool fan were during the Anfield reign of Roy Hodgson. There wasn't a morning that didn't have a moment of dour introspection or impotent rage as the Great Tactician of Halmstads steered the proudest of all clubs, my club, steadily towards the murky gloom of irrelevance.

Such bleak reality, however, is at least tangible. One can interact with it, respond to it, rail against it. It was the uniquely awful combination of substandard footballers, outmoded tactics, lowered expectations, media complicity in Hodgsonian iniquitousness and Christian bloody Purslow that finally encouraged me to commit the addled contents of my brain to the pages of this fine blog. From that horror, something could at least be created in opposition -- we could engage with the fight and register our howling defiance. The annual summer transfer window, with all its attendant drama and frustration is a different matter entirely.

For the second year in a row, Liverpool fans are doing an emotional two-step with their star player, Luis Suárez. His ability and attitude on the pitch has made him beloved of the Red masses but that same belligerent attitude has also been the cause of too much perturbation for those fans over the course of the Uruguayan's explosive Anfield soujourn. Now, it seems, it may be time for the remarkably gifted attacker to take the next step on his chaotic journey.

Even the suggestion of that will rile some of you, but the most notable aspect of yesterday's farcical bullet-point apology, for this scrawler at least, was the pointed lack of an apology to Liverpool Football Club, long-suffering rehabilitators of the ever-motile forward's shattered reputation. It is not overly cynical to suggest that the contrition expressed to "the entire football family" was simply a box to be ticked, a reputed condition of Barcelona's continued interest. Should that be the case, we can only assume that following the confirmed arrivals of Emre Can and Adam Lallana, there will be quite a few more high-end talents arriving in to do a spot of leaning around Melwood and environs.

Of the many names touted as having a potential future in a poorly designed Warrior kit, Xherdan Shaqiri is both one of the most linguistically exotic and genuinely exciting. After two underwhelming World Cup performances, which saw armchair analysts dismiss the Swiss forward as 'unfit looking' and, wait for it, 'not Liverpool class,' the absurdly muscular Bayern Munich man scored a massively impressive hat trick in his country's third match, against Honduras. Cue mass praise and the inundation of poor John Henry's Twitter account with earnest requests that our Bostonian overlords should 'sign him up.'

It was reported that previous to the World Cup, Liverpool had lodged a bid of £15m with the German champions but with Juventus amongst a number of top clubs interested in the dynamic attacker and his stock rising as this tournament progresses, it will likely take a far higher amount and some wily persuasiveness from a horse-whispering Brendan Rodgers to attract Shaqiri to Merseyside. The player himself is known to be unhappy at his lack of opportunities in Pep Guardiola's side and this may be a key factor in the negotiations.

At the other end of the pitch, Reds fans have been generally positive in their reaction to Simon Mignolet's debut season. He was skilful and fortunate enough to establish himself as a fine shot stopper with a wonderful and massively important penalty save against Stoke on the opening day of the campaign, a stop which effectively put Liverpool on a momentum-driven run of narrow wins which caused the faithful to believe.

However, from that very first match there have been some issues apparent in the Belgian's game, issues that have not been significantly eradicated since. For a team that likes to play out of the defence, Mignolet's composure and distribution with the ball at his feet is perhaps not what it should be. Similarly, for a man so mightily impressive at acrobatic, physics-defying saves, he is often reticent under the lofted ball and must continue the encouraging trend shown towards the end of the campaign when he was far more inclined to come for the ball beyond his six yard box.

Irrespective of any further improvement, Brendan Rodgers is known to be eager to add to the goalkeeping strength-in-depth at Anfield and two men who have been impressing in Brazil have been linked with potential moves. 27 year old Costa Rican 'keeper Keylor Navas has been having a mightily impressive tournament, the most recent highlight of which was his penalty stop from Greece's Theofanis Gekas, a save which pushed his nation into the quarter finals. Navas, who has been in fine form for Levante this season, has a reputed £8m escape clause in his contract but Atletico Madrid are known to be interested and the player may have a preference for the La Liga champions.

Another goalkeeper catching the eye is the grandiosely coiffured Mexican, Guillermo Ochoa. Resplendent in the most beautiful black and pink kit, the lithe last line of defence has been perhaps the stand-out custodian on display at the World Cup to date. Alas, his tournament is now over and Liverpool are thought to be in a battle with the likes of Arsenal and Monaco to seal the services of the Ajaccio player. Again, he looks very much suited to the kind of football Rodgers has begun to establish at Anfield and many would be excited by his arrival.

The irony is not lost on me, dear reader, that in disseminating the likes of the above transfer tattle, I am directly feeding into the climate of uncertainty that the opening paragraphs lament. There's doubtless a fine rationalisation I could make, but I won't insult you. This stuff is as utterly irresistible as it is infuriating and so we will continue our tempestuous, ambivalent relationship with the summer transfer window, attempting guarded cynicism, but betraying the wide-eyed excitement that resides in hearts of all football fans.