The ripple effects of this past summer’s blockbuster transfer continue to be felt throughout Europe’s top leagues. When PSG stunned Barcelona by triggering Neymar’s gargantuan release clause, two key questions emerged: what would the Catalan giants do to plug the sudden hole in their lineup, and who would get pushed to the margins with Neymar’s arrival in Paris. And as strange as it this past year has been, Liverpool could yet play a role in both questions.
It was not much of surprise that Barcelona would come for Philippe Coutinho, and come hard they did, leading to a transfer request by the Brazilian midfielder and kicking off a dramatic chain of events that may have permanently marked the player’s relationship with his manager and the club’s supporters. But Liverpool dug in, and while Coutinho is still expected to leave Anfield by next summer, the player has returned to the fold for the first half of this season at least.
Meanwhile, PSG may be starting to feel just a little bit of the Financial Fair Play heat after opening the vault for Neymar and positioning themselves to spend big again next summer in order to secure a permanent deal for Kylian Mbappé. Unsurprisingly, Barcelona, as well as certain La Liga officials, have made some Very Loud Noises calling into question PSG’s compliance with FFP rules, and it’s widely expected that the French club will offload some players in an attempt to defuse the situation.
One of those players is rumored to be German international Julian Draxler, who was just acquired from Wolfsburg in January of this year for a purported €35 million. Despite occasionally moving to a central midfield position, to nobody’s surprise, Draxler has had few opportunities to displace Edinson Cavani, Neymar, or Mbappé in more attacking positions. Several outlets have now indicated that the 24-year-old has been earmarked for a January departure, with Liverpool and Arsenal rumored to be in the hunt.
Arsène Wenger has been thought to be a big fan of Draxler, and while certain links to Liverpool have surfaced in the past, those connections have rarely had more substance to them beyond Klopp’s and Draxler’s shared language and citizenship. While Liverpool will likely have get serious about replacing Coutinho in the not too distant future, it’s not clear that Draxler will be that player. His preferred position is out wide, and competition for starting minutes in those areas can be daunting, with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané setting track records on a regular basis.
If Liverpool do acquire Draxler in a big money deal in January, the first thing that he will set alight will probably be LFC Twitter, as the club’s supporters continue to bemoan the lack of quality reinforcements in the central midfield and defense.