With Jurgen Klopp set to add to his Liverpool squad this summer, the German would be wise to look to the Bosman market for targets.
As the success of Markus Babbel, Gary McAllister and Maxi Rodriguez has proved at Liverpool over the years, the free-transfer market is a useful means of signing quality players without the gamble of a big-money fee.
Klopp has shown a willingness to utilise this market already in his time on Merseyside, with Schalke centre-back Joel Matip set to join at the end of the season.
On Matip’s arrival, Klopp said that “in Germany a player of this quality without a contract is really rare,” acknowledging the 24-year-old as a bargain signing.
This may not stop there, as the Bosman market is set to be littered with top talents this summer, and while Klopp will have money to spend, he could well find first-team solutions without having to pay.
Here are five players Liverpool could target in the free-transfer market this summer.
Throughout the 2014/15 campaign, Liverpool were linked with a move for Fiorentina’s Brazilian shot-stopper Neto, but while the 26-year-old went on to join Juventus on a free transfer, he was far from the quality required to replace Simon Mignolet in the Reds’ goal.
Neto has made just one Serie A appearance this season, and remains out of Dunga’s thinking for the Brazil national team—with the ex-midfielder preferring Internacional man Alisson.
Alisson has progressed through the youth ranks at Internacional to become the Brasileiro side’s first-choice goalkeeper, and kept 15 clean sheets in 26 league appearances in 2015, conceding just 23 goals.
A looming physical presence standing at 6’4″, Alisson is a great reflex ‘keeper, with his shot-stopping ability a key attribute, while he has improved significantly in his command of the penalty area.
Alisson has hinted that he could move to Europe in the summer, with Roma mooted as a likely destination, but if Liverpool were to move quickly and offer him a chance at securing the No. 1 shirt ahead of Mignolet, he could likely be tempted to switch to the Premier League.
It would be something of a risk by Klopp, but with Adam Bogdan likely to leave this summer, and Danny Ward yet to trouble Mignolet as first choice, signing another goalkeeper should be a priority.
The signing of Matip sees Klopp address a key weakness in his current Liverpool squad, with the Cameroon international primed to add strength to his centre-back ranks.
But with Kolo Toure and Martin Skrtel both possibly leaving Merseyside at the end of the season, there is scope for another addition at the heart of the Reds’ defence, and Klopp would be advised to look at Matip’s compatriot, Nicolas N’Koulou.
N’Koulou has spent the last five seasons as a mainstay in the Marseille defence, after joining from Monaco in 2011, and has been one of Ligue 1’s most consistently impressive defenders.
A strong, athletic centre-back, N’Koulou is at his best playing sweeper alongside a front-footed option, similar to the role Dejan Lovren plays alongside Mamadou Sakho, and is extremely comfortable in possession.
Though right-footed, N’Koulou is able to play on either side of a central pairing, as well as deputising in defensive midfield, with this versatility a valuable asset if he were to join Liverpool.
Garnering interest from Valencia, Leicester City, Schalke, Lyon and AC Milan, N’Koulou will be an in-demand free agent this summer, but if Klopp were able to convince him to join Matip at Liverpool, his centre-back ranks would arguably be complete.
Adding competition for Alberto Moreno at left-back should be a key priority for Klopp this summer, with the German’s exasperation with his young full-back’s defensive lapses clear on the touchline throughout the season so far.
With Jose Enrique set to leave on the expiry of his contract this summer, and Brad Smith offering only adequate backup, an accomplished option should be added to the squad.
So far this season, Cologne’s Jonas Hector, Leicester’s Ben Chilwell and Fenerbahce man Caner Erkin have been listed as possible targets.
A free-transfer move for Erkin could be wise, providing cover and competition for Moreno without breaking the bank.
Erkin is a strong, physical left-back at his best ploughing forward into the attacking third, with his delivery from the flank proving hugely valuable in his six seasons with Fener, having registered eight assists in 26 games so far this season.
Also comfortable in defence, Erkin is a solid, well-rounded left-back, who could just be right man to coax top form out of Moreno next season.
Position: Central Midfield
Club: Borussia Monchengladbach
West Ham United have made a habit of securing shrewd, under-the-radar signings over the past few years, and former Arsenal midfielder Havard Nordtveit could be next in line ahead of the 2016/17 campaign.
The Borussia Monchengladbach is rumoured to be finalising a move to the Olympic Stadium over the coming weeks, but if Liverpool are able to hijack this deal, they would be acquiring another accomplished midfield option.
Over the past six seasons with Gladbach, Nordtveit has proved himself a useful, all-round midfielder, able to break up play with strong tackles and drive attacks forward.
Capable of operating at the base of the midfield, as well as at centre-back and right-back, Nordtveit is another versatile candidate to add to Klopp’s squad, though he is unlikely to trouble the first-choice starting lineup.
But with Lucas Leiva and Joe Allen both possibly leaving Merseyside this summer, he would be a fine addition to Klopp’s ranks in a rotational role.
Position: Right Winger
Klopp has made no secret of his desire to add quality to his flanks this summer, with young talents such as Jordon Ibe and Sheyi Ojo lacking the experience required to thrive on a consistent basis at the top level.
The German has already seen a winter move for Alex Teixeira fail, while former protege Mario Gotze has been heavily linked with switching Bayern Munich for Merseyside at the end of the season.
If Klopp turns to the Bosman market, however, he could find a heavyweight solution in Valencia’s Sofiane Feghouli.
Feghouli is a powerful right winger at his best when driving at defences in possession, with his pace and skill providing Valencia with their X factor following his move from Grenoble in 2010.
The Algerian possesses the tenacity that Liverpool need on their right, but what he does lack is numbers in front of goal—this season, Feghouli has scored just seven goals and made four assists in 36 appearances.
Nevertheless, at 26 he looks primed to make a step up this summer, and Liverpool could be the ideal destination.