So the obscenely gifted James Rodriguez looks to be a lost cause before his transfer saga could really get started, with the Colombian supposedly courting Bayern Munich in search for a summer move. Reds fans wishing to see the left-footed artistry of Hamez at Anfield barely had time to get their hopes up before seeing them dashed under the trachtenschuhe of the German champions, leaving them pining for the next bit of speculation to pass the days until the Merseyside derby.
Fear not, as the rumour mongers took less than a day to produce another potential target, this time in the shape of Rodriguez understudy and fellow galactico Marco Asensio. The exciting young Spaniard has been attracting the attention of Premier League rivals Arsenal, but Liverpool are reportedly ready to muck up the Londoners' deal-making with a £40m bid.
Asensio started his career in RCD Mallorca's youth ranks, but was picked up by Real Madrid for a measly €3.5m in 2014, before being loaned straight back to his childhood club. The following season saw him loaned out to Espanyol, and this year, he has been picking up not insignificant minutes at the Santiago Bernabéu, competing with Isco and the aforementioned Hamez in a central role, and spelling Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale on the wings.
Although comparisons with Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho are inevitable, it is Sadio Mané whose playing style is most like the Spanish international. Physically strong and refreshingly direct in his approach to the game, Asensio makes up for what he lacks in nuance and pinpoint precision with athleticism, vigour and — calling Geoff Twentyman — a thunderous left peg, one that produces quality set pieces on a regular basis. That's not to say that he's some stumbling amateur when picking a pass — he creates a chance just as often as the takes the shot himself — but he doesn't possess the deftness to thread the needle like an Özil or a Xavi, at least not yet. Able to play in any attacking position, bar striker, Asensio offers a versatility that will be appreciated by Jürgen Klopp.
The price is eye-watering, but is also significantly higher than what would realistically tempt Madrid into letting their asset go, and if Liverpool can pip Arsenal to a Champions League berth, the Reds should be considered favourites to land the Spaniard. Now, about that CL spot...