With Alex Teixeira shunning the interest of Liverpool in favour of a move to China, Jurgen Klopp would be wise to draw up a list of alternatives.
Teixeira joined Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning on Friday, after the Dan Petrescu-led side paid Shakhtar Donetsk £38.4 million for his services.
Addressing Liverpool’s interest in the Brazilian, and their failure in signing him this winter, Klopp said he had “no problem” with Teixeira opting for a switch to China.
This may be because Klopp believes there is better value to found at the end of the 2015/16 campaign, and the former Borussia Dortmund manager could have his sights set elsewhere already.
Teixeira would have provided Liverpool with much-needed goals and assists, with his fast-paced, skilful attacking play perfectly suited to Klopp’s squad, and the Reds will be looking to add this at the end of the season.
Here are five attacking midfielders Liverpool can target instead of Teixeira this summer.
Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli)
If Liverpool are to push for glory in the Europa League this season, it is likely that they will have to conquer Maurizio Sarri’s impressive Napoli side, and while Gonzalo Higuain remains the star in Naples, his team-mate Lorenzo Insigne has been in inspired form throughout 2015/16.
The 24-year-old has scored 11 goals and registered 11 assists in 25 games for Napoli so far this season, typically from his starting position on the left wing.
While his representatives got to work off the field, Insigne continued to back up their claims on it, including a sensational, long-range half-volley in Napoli’s 5-1 win over Empoli at the start of the year.
Though typically a left-winger, Insigne is naturally right-footed, and with his creativity, pace and intelligent movement, the diminutive Frattamaggiore-born midfielder would shine at Liverpool.
Andriy Yarmolenko (Dynamo Kyiv)
If Liverpool are looking for a 26-year-old goalscoring winger from the Ukraine, they would be wise to monitor Andriy Yarmolenko’s situation at Dynamo Kyiv.
The Ukraine international is primarily a right-sided attacker, which would allow him to slot into Klopp’s 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 formations perfectly, balancing out the left-sided Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino as the No. 10.
Having scored 19 goals and assisted on a further 21 in 43 appearances last season, including playing a hand in 11 goals in 11 games in the Europa League, Yarmolenko has continued this form in 2015/16, netting 13 times and laying on eight assists in 22 games in all competitions.
Yarmolenko has arguably outgrown the Ukrainian Premier League, and responding to interest from Everton this winter by claiming “it is better to play at Everton” than sit on the bench at Barcelona, he clearly has the right attitude to succeed under Klopp.
A quick, technically gifted and standing at a bullish 6’2″, he is ideally suited to Klopp’s attacking line, and with a buyout clause of just £14.5 million in his contract, he would be a bargain signing.
Leroy Sane (Schalke)
Schalke made it clear that they would not sell Liverpool and Manchester City target Leroy Sane in the winter transfer window, but chairman Clemens Tonnies hinted that the 20-year-old could leave the club in the summer.
Since breaking through into the Schalke first team last season, Sane has gone on to establish himself as a key player for manager Andre Breitenreiter.
Primarily stationed on the right wing, Sane can operate all across the forward line including as a second striker, and has scored six goals and made five assists in 26 appearances this season.
Blessed with blistering pace, Sane is a devastating option on the counterattack, and his swiftly improving tactical intelligence draws comparison with that of Raheem Sterling.
Sane was linked with a £42 million move to City in January, and while this would be a costly deal for the Reds, they could be investing in the short- and long-term success of their forward line.
Felipe Anderson (Lazio)
Last summer, Liverpool and Manchester United identified the same wide forwards to bolster their attacks: Memphis Depay and Roberto Firmino.
While Memphis ended up at Old Trafford, Liverpool’s aggressive pursuit of Firmino—aided by the charms of his compatriot, Coutinho—saw the Reds secure the more successful of the two.
This summer, Klopp could look to get one up on United once again, by making Felipe Anderson a priority target.
Anderson has been linked with a move to the Red Devils throughout 2015/16 so far, and his brand of attacking verve is just what Louis van Gaal needs to inject some excitement into his squad—and this is exactly why he would suit Klopp’s Liverpool.
Equally comfortable on the left and right flanks, Anderson has gone from strength to strength since his move to Lazio from Santos in 2013, and his flair and powerful attacking play would complement Coutinho and Firmino perfectly.
Mario Gotze (Bayern Munich)
Mario Gotze has been linked with a move to Liverpool already this season, with the former Dortmund No. 10 effectively issuing a ‘come and get me’ plea back in January, saying “you should ask Klopp if he wants me at Liverpool. If he wants me, he should approach me.”
While Gotze ruled out a move in the winter, with his contract set to expire at the end of next season and a new manager arriving at Bayern Munich for 2016/17 in Carlo Ancelotti, his future is up in the air.
Klopp and Gotze enjoyed a fruitful relationship when together at Dortmund, with the incisive attacking midfielder developing into a key player under the Liverpool manager.
A reunion on Merseyside would suit both parties, with Klopp desperate for added quality in the final third and Gotze no doubt looking for guaranteed game time.
Whether Liverpool could pull off a signing as high-profile as Gotze remains to be seen, but he would provide the star power Klopp’s squad is lacking.