Even with Raheem Sterling’s future up in the air, a winger seems as though it should be rather far down Liverpool’s list of priorities this summer. Yet in Memphis Depay, Son Heung-Min, and now Eduardo Salvio it seems Liverpool rather disagree on this point. Or perhaps it’s simply that in rumoured striker targets Danny Ings and Christian Benteke, Brendan Rodgers and the transfer committee believe they have found the much needed answers up front.
Most Liverpool fans don’t agree, and if Ings and Benteke arrive for a combined outlay of £35M or more in the coming months, a lot of fans would head into the next season in an even more dour and hopeless mood than they ended the last. Still, if many are aghast at the club’s apparent primary striker targets and question the need to go hard after wingers, at least the consensus about the quality of the wingers they are after has tended towards the positive.
Depay, of course, is one of the brightest talents in Europe, and even if he chose to reunite with Louis van Gaal at Manchester United in the end—and choice most expected him to make all along if it was offered—Liverpool were right to at least try to land him. Son Heung-Min is similarly young, talented, and with an eye for goal from wide areas, and few would complain if Liverpool were to land him, even if they might prefer Liverpool worry more about other areas.
The 24-year-old Benfica winger Salvio is in a similar class to Son and Depay. Maybe even a higher class—or at least a more proven one. And reports in Portugal, lead by O Jobo, have the winger ready to fly to England, with talks between the clubs well advanced for the player. Salvio has a reported €40M buyout clause, but if the Portuguese reports are to be believed, Benfica are willing to sell and it will not cost the full buyout clause for Liverpool to land him.
Salvio has made over 100 appearances for Benfica since joining in 2012, and has managed a handful of Argentina caps along the way. Able to play across the attacking midfield band or as an out and out winger, Salvio’s flexibility would help him to get time in what is a crowded part of the pitch for the Reds. He scored 13 goals and 11 assists last season for Benfica at the rate of a goal every 242 minutes and a goal or assist every 131 minutes.
It’s a very solid return for a winger in Europe’s fifth-ranked league, and the expectation would have to be for Salvio to improve Liverpool’s starting eleven. However, his signing would only add to questions about last summer’s transfer strategy, as returning to Benfica to buy the finished product a year after spending £20M to bring in Lazar Markovic from them would only serve to knock the promising Serbian further down the depth chart.
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