Most of the Liverpool rumours ahead of January have concerned cover for Sadio Mané, who the club will be without when he heads off to represent Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations. Today, though, there’s a defender whose name has been added to the mix, and it will be an exciting one for many.
According to the Mirror, Liverpool are seriously interested in Bayer Leverkusen’s Jonathan Tah, an imposing, technically gifted 20-year-old centre half who already has two senior caps for Germany and is a safe bet to be included on any list of Europe’s best and brightest young stars.
Tah arrived at Leverkusen in 2015 in a €7.5M deal and has since made 60 appearances in all competitions for the German side. It’s an exceptionally impressive appearance rate for a defender who turned 20 in February and who plays at a position where it’s generally expected that players will take time to develop.
For a player already as good as Tah, one who is could compete for a starting position today and has the talent to become one of Europe’s best defenders—both on and off the ball—the fee would be far from cheap. It’s likely that he would cost a buying club at least £30M, and maybe even more.
In part that’s because Tah’s Leverkusen deal runs through 2020, putting the German club in a strong position. On paper at least, they would have little motivation to sell easily or cheaply, and especially not in January. Liverpool’s need for him in January is also worth questioning and casts doubt on the rumour.
While the club will be losing Mané to the AFCON, they won’t be losing Jöel Matip, who only plays for Cameroon at the World Cup and in World Cup qualifiers. With Matip and Dejan Lovren appearing the settled first choice pairing, Tah would arrive as a competitor rather than a lock.
Still, Liverpool do have money to spend after turning a profit in the summer, and if Tah were a priority target for the future it’s plausible Jürgen Klopp could seek to bring him in this January with an eye towards getting him settled for the 2017-18 season.