Sunday, January 29, 2023

Liverpool Eyeing This Versatile Barcelona Star: Can Klopp Get The Best Out Of Him?

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Pratyay Maitra
A sports enthusiast in his mid-twenties who reads, breathes, as well as dreams (mostly) about football and attempts to share his views with the fanatics by jotting it down. Prefers to learn through extensive interaction, communication and exploration. So don't be in a quandary and SHOOT.

The new Premier League season is about to kick off in less than two weeks time and Liverpool suffered a massive transfer blow as they reportedly abandoned all interest in Guinean midfielder Naby Keita until next summer and decided not to submit another bid following the strong and adamantine stance taken by RB Leipzig Director of Sports, Ralf Rangnick.

Keita was relishing the prospect of working under Jurgen Klopp in Premier League following his majestic Bundesliga debut with the German outfit and the Reds were confident of landing the midfield sensation as well. But this prolonged negotiation has come to an abrupt ending and the Reds will have to explore alternatives in order to strengthen their midfield and leave an impact in their prestigious Champions League return.

The Reds, however, are sweating over the future of their Brazilian superstar Philippe Coutinho who has been a subject of strong interest from La Liga giants Barcelona. Klopp has already turned down a £72 mil offer and assured his key resource will not move out at any cost. But Josep Bartomeu, the Barcelona president, has not ruled out their interest and was cryptic about a fresh bid in the latest interview.

“He’s a Liverpool player and I have a lot of respect for Liverpool. What we do in the summer is to be very discreet about everything, so we cannot confirm or deny anything. More players will come, one in midfield, definitely.” 

As per reports from Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo, Klopp might be forced to sell Coutinho before the transfer deadline and the German gaffer is lining up alternatives that include Barcelona midfielder Rafinha who is available for around £30 mil. The 24-year old Brazilian is open to a move for regular football prior to next season’s FIFA World Cup and might be included in a player plus cash swap deal with his fellow countryman.

But the reports lack authenticity as Klopp has reiterated his intentions of keeping Coutinho for the forthcoming season. Rafinha, thus, might be considered as an interim alternative of Naby Keita who has struggled to have enough game-time since returning from a serious injury that ruled him out for the majority of the 2015-16 season.

He was competing with Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic for first team minutes prior to his injury, but the Brazilian, despite returning to full fitness, found himself further down the pecking order following the arrival of Andre Gomes and Denis Suarez last summer.

Rafinha, however, impressed in his limited opportunities as he netted 6 and assisted twice in 18 league appearances last season. He is known for his high work ethic, defensive contribution, ability to hold the ball in midfield, strong passing and dribbling skills along with versatility in the middle of the park.

The two-time La Liga and 2014-15 UEFA Champions League winner has been explored in multiple midfield roles that include deep-lying playmaker, right winger and also an attacking midfielder.

The likes of Leon Goretzka and Jean Seri earned a lot of fanfare as Keita’s replacement, but this undervalued Brazilian can be an astute piece of business but definitely not at the expense of Liverpool’s ‘little magician’.

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