Liverpool’s interest in Udinese’s Piotr Zielinski was heavily speculated upon and, by every account, very much real. At times, a deal was widely reported as being done in the Italian press, and Zielinski was pictured wearing a Liverpool top in interviews in his homeland of Poland.
A strained relationship with Udinese’s owners, though—they also control Watford in England, who Liverpool struggled to deal with this year over Jerome Sinclair—and late interest from Napoli have increasingly put that transfer’s chances in doubt, and there are reports today that Liverpool are moving on.
Who they’re moving on to would be Borussia Monchengladbach’s 20-year-old Syrian-born midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud. Dahoud had previously been linked with Liverpool, but it was never clear how serious the club were in chasing his signature or just where he stood in the club’s transfer target pecking order.
Some early reports had Dahoud as first choice and Zielinski second but claimed Monchengladbach had refused to deal. If this latest round of rumours are true and it's the other way around, though, then Liverpool fans can expect to hear a great deal more about Dahoud in the coming days and weeks.
Both Dahoud and Zielinski are box-to-box midfielders with some flexibility to their games, but both are also players who tend towards the more attacking side of the game. In both cases they seem players best suited to taking on the more attacking role in a three-man midfield rather than playing in the double-pivot..
Dahoud, if anything, is the slightly more rounded player. He’s also, being two years younger than Zielinski, a somewhat rawer player, though his return last season in a more attacking Monchengladbach side was in fact better than Zielinski’s in Italy, and his league would likely mean a smoother transition.
Borussia Monchengladbach finished fourth in Germany last season, and Dahoud made 41 total appearances for them, including 33 starts. Unlike Zielinski, who averaged over 86 minutes played for each of his 36 appearances last year, Dahoud averaged a little more than 63 minutes per appearance.
The midfielder, who has represented Germany at every youth level, scored five goals and nine assists for Die Fohlen, making for a goal involvement every 185 minutes—an exceptional return for a player his age in the Bundesliga and besting Zielinski’s goal involvement every 284 minutes by a fair margin.
Monchengladbach have warned that they have no need to sell this summer and will not be seeking suitors for their young star. Despite that, Dahoud has been linked to Dortmund and Tottenham along with Liverpool. If he is sold this summer, he is likely to cost upwards of £20M.