Rumours linking Kyriakos Papadopoulos to Liverpool continue to gain momentum, and if reports from Raphael Honigstein are to be believed it may only be a matter of days before a deal is agreed. Honigstein, who covers the Bundesliga for the Guardian and Sports Illustrated and regularly appears elsewhere in the English press, is widely considered one of the most reliable names in the business when it comes to German football.
"Liverpool are pretty close to landing Kyriakos Papadopoulos," said the English media's favourite Bundesliga oracle when asked about the potential transfer on TalkSport. "Schalke would have been happy to sell him to Zenit in the January transfer window, where they had a very good offer of around €20m (£17M) or so.
"Liverpool’s offer will be a little bit lower, which is a reflection on the fact that he’s been out injured for a while. There’s no fear he will be affected long-term, it’s just that Schalke have three very good centre-backs, having picked up Felipe Santana from Dortmund for €1m. That makes it easier for Papadopoulos to go."
That Papadopolous has missed much of the past season with a knee injury will concern some. Yet in addition to helping to keep his fee reasonable for a Liverpool side intent on finding bargains as in January when the snatched Philippe Coutinho away from Inter Milan for well below market value, it will also give pause to sides like Chelsea and Manchester United who are rumoured to have been tracking the defender.
Liverpool cannot compete with clubs at the very top of the table when it comes to finances and silverware potential, but if those sides have now shifted to targets with fewer question marks it provides Liverpool the chance to swoop—if the club feels any risk is minimal. And with reports in Germany suggesting Papadopoulos' suffered only cartilage and not any ligament damage and that he has recovered well, Liverpool increasingly appear ready to take whatever risk there may be.
Schalke, meanwhile, remain desperate to sell due to their financial difficulties. Were the German club in better shape, it's almost impossible to imagine they would look to shift a defender who started more than forty games for them in 2011-12 when they finished third in the Bundesliga. At the time, Papadopoulos appeared set to anchor their defence for the next decade and was a strong candidate to become a future captain.
As it has become clear just how dire their financial situation is, he has instead become expendable, with the club happy to swap Dortmund's Santana—both older and, though solid, a downgrade on Papadopoulos at present—and a €10-15M net profit for the 21-year-old Greek. Their desperation, along with a knee injury that may scare off some of England and Europe's top sides, could soon become Liverpool's gain.