In an ideal world, Liverpool would have managed to sign Aurélien Tchouaméni or Jude Bellingham this summer. In this world, Tchouaméni joined Real Madrid and Dortmund won’t consider selling Bellingham until next year after losing start striker Erling Haaland.
In a slightly less ideal but still generally good world for the Reds, their mix of talented but injury prone aging midfielders and promising youngsters would have been enough to see them through until next summer. In this world, they’ve suffered an August injury crisis.
Everybody, then, knows that Liverpool have issues both short-term and long in midfield right now. Including the rumour mongers, who haven’t exactly been shy about linking the club with players they likely aren’t even considering over the past couple of weeks.
Today, there’s a new name for the mix: Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong, the 25-year-old meant to be the future for the Catalans in midfield who has found himself persona non grata in recent months, a mere lever to be pulled that might by his departure aid their finances.
The situation for De Jong at Barcelona became awkward—perhaps untenably so—after he agreed to defer a significant portion of his salary early in the Covid pandemic only for the club to try to force him to join Manchester United this summer without paying it.
Now, there are claims in Barcelona’s El Nacional that the Reds want De Jong and are willing to pay £60M for him. They call it an offer the La Liga side can’t refuse. And therein lies the rub. Namely in that it’s a rumour too good to be true from a Barcelona point of view.
De Jong’s progression, retention, and press resistance would fill a hole for the Reds, but it’s hard to see Liverpool paying £60M and bailing out Barcelona for a distressed asset they’ve been trying to force out for months and who wasn’t previously considered a target.
For the right price it’s possible to see Liverpool becoming interested in De Jong, who could become an unexpected target of opportunity at a position of need for them. But that right price wouldn’t be one the Barcelona press talk up as an offer the club can’t refuse.