When Jürgen Klopp was spotted taking in the Copa América match between Chile and Argentina, speculation ran wild that the Liverpool manager was taking a closer look at Gonzalo Higuaín, and that the club was on the verge of a truly audacious attempt to bring the Argentine forward to Anfield. Despite there being plenty of reasons to be suspicious of such rumors, there was no small amount of disappointment among many Liverpool supporters when the purported interest in Higuaín was eventually dismissed by the Liverpool Echo.
But what if Klopp was at the match to scout a different Argentine player? If you absolutely must believe that the Liverpool manager had an ulterior motive in being at Levi's Stadium other than to enjoy a contest between two highly rated national sides, then this is your lucky day. According to the Mirror, the true object of Liverpool's interest was none other than - drum roll, please, and cue up Men At Work's Who Can It Be Now? - River Plate defender Gabriel Mercado. Try not to hurt yourself as you leap to your feet in elation.
Mercado is a perfectly competent player who has hovered on the periphery of the Argentine national squad for some years now, and his ability to play across the back four (and on occasion, in midfield) is indicative of the kind of versatility that would fit in well with Klopp's Liverpool. And in case you hadn't heard, Liverpool released Kolo Touré earlier in the week, so naturally the club are looking for reinforcements at the back, or so goes the logic underlying the Mercado rumors.
Except of course, that Liverpool will already be able to call upon Dejan Lovren and Joël Matip in central defence, and will hopefully welcome back Joe Gomez and Mamadou Sakho sooner rather than later, provided the former resists the siren song of Brendan Rodgers at Celtic and the latter resolves an increasingly muddled situation with the UEFA disciplinary commission. And while Liverpool arguably could use competition for Alberto Moreno, as well as a solid deputy for Nathaniel Clyne, it's not clear Mercado is that player.
At twenty-nine years of age, Mercado is likely entering the wrong side of his prime, if he hasn't passed it already, and he hasn't exactly set the world alight in his performances for the national team. There are other reasons to take these rumors with a grain of salt: in addition to being a far-from-permanent fixture in the River Plate side during their Argentine Primera Division campaign, Mercado has been tabbed by certain Mexican and Argentine news outlets as being a pending recruit for Liga MX side Monterrey. Astute observers will have noted that Monterrey is not managed by Klopp.
Could Liverpool truly be looking at Mercado as inexpensive cover for various defensive positions? This is a world where Harry Kane takes corners, so the answer is yes, stranger things have happened. To say that it's unlikely is an understatement, but if it does happen, remember to tell everyone you heard it here first.