You were probably skeptical when you heard Liverpool were meant to be in for Kylian Mbappe, that whispers following the end of the season were more than just whispers and that the Reds and Jürgen Klopp were for real seriously chasing after Monaco's 19-year-old budding superstar striker.
You were probably right to be. You probably still are right to be. Despite that today the rumours have moved on to more serious outlets and outlets like The Liverpool Echo whose journalists have strong ties to the club. Striker was never meant to be the club's top priority, after all.
Yet now the club are meant to seriously be in the running for a player who could end up costing as much as £100M and has widely been regarded as all but moved to Real Madrid for some time. On its very surface it seems unlikely. Beneath the surface, too, where Liverpool need a winger, midfielder, centre half, and left back.
Once the club are done dealing with those more pressing needs, then, maybe—and depending on what happens with Daniel Sturridge—they might move for a striker ready to play first team football. But today, Mbappe is being talked about like he just might be leaning at Melwood tomorrow. The reason seems clear in the framing.
One of the first places to pick up on the story in England following its debut in L'Equippe was The Daily Mail, an at times questionable outlet but one whose Dominic King maintains sources at Liverpool. Now the Liverpool Echo are tackling it as though it's a story of substance and not one worth rolled eyes.
Much of the talk, though, involves identifying Mbappe as a player who would "get fans back onside" regardless of whether the club actually do sign him. Even just showing serious interest, the stories being pushed seem to say, makes Liverpool look serious; makes them look like potential big summer spenders again.
After what happened last week with Virgil van Dijk, then, it seems that Mbappe is being put out—either explicitly by the club through friendly journalists and briefings or just because those journalists are seizing on an unlikely name that will drive pageviews—as something of a salve for the Van Dijk debacle.
It's so transparent it would barely be worth commenting on, except talk of Mbappe to Liverpool is becoming increasingly widespread in England today. Unless Liverpool have suddenly decided to have themselves a £200M net, £300M gross spend summer, though, it's not going to happen.
Liverpool still need a winger, centre half, midfielder, and left back first, and even before that, missing out on Van Dijk doesn't free up anything like the entirety of Mbappe's fee. Plus there's the part where he's almost certainly heading to Real Madrid when this is all said and done.
It might be that the club, though, would like fans to believe they're after Mbappe. Or it might just be the press picking up on a juicy transfer rumour. If it's the former, though, most fans would probably prefer seeing the Mohamed Salah deal get done than unlikely Mbappe rumours being spun.