Mahmoud Dahoud & Christian Pulisic: How are Liverpool’s transfer targets performing in 2016/17 so far?

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Liverpool failed in bids for both Mahmoud Dahoud and Christian Pulisic in the summer, with the pair enjoying mixed fortunes since.

The Reds were believed to be vying with Tottenham Hotspur and Borussia Dortmund for Dahoud, but the 20-year-old midfielder remained with Borussia Monchengladbach.

Meanwhile, an £11 million offer for Dortmund teenager Pulisic was rebuffed in the closing days of the summer transfer window, as Klopp pushed for one last addition.

Liverpool have begun the campaign in excellent form, but Klopp has continually insisted they are far from the finished article.

It is likely that, given the weight of his interest in the summer, Klopp will return for both Dahoud and Pulisic in the near future—be that in January or ahead of the 2017/18 campaign.

But how have they been getting on away from Merseyside this season, and how likely is it they will be available when the Reds make their next approach?

 

Mahmoud Dahoud and Gladbach Struggles

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 8, 2015: VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach's Mahmoud Dahoud in action against Manchester City during the UEFA Champions League Group D match at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Reds’ interest in Dahoud came at the same time as their prolonged pursuit of Polish midfielder Piotr Zielinski, with Klopp ultimately moving to sign Georginio Wijnaldum from Newcastle United.

Though Wijnaldum has taken up a key role in the Liverpool midfield since his £25 million move, that Dahoud is continually linked with a move to Anfield suggests Klopp could still be in the market to sign the Syrian-born star.

This could also be affecting his position at Gladbach, as despite the departures of Granit Xhaka and Havard Nordtveit in the summer, Dahoud’s status has diminished in 2016/17 so far.

Dahoud has so far featured in 10 out of 18 games for Gladbach this season, with just four starts in the Bundesliga, amounting to just 707 minutes of football—44 percent of those possible.

Last season, he played 2,594 of a possible 3,870 minutes in all competitions, or 67 percent.

The 20-year-old has been competing with Tobias Strobl for a starting place alongside summer signing Christophe Kramer and captain Lars Stindl in Andre Schubert’s three-man midfield, with German publication Der Tagesspiegel recently proffering that Strobl has proved “more valuable.”

Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne and Borussia Monchengladbach's Mahmoud Dahoud battle for the ball during the Champions League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 14, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Man City. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

According to Schubert, this is due to a drop in form for Dahoud, with the youngster struggling to contend with being “seen more critically” following links with the likes of Liverpool and Dortmund.

However, as This is Anfield’s James Nalton witnessed in Gladbach’s 4-0 defeat to Manchester City in the Champions League earlier this season, Dahoud is still performing with the industry and guile that no doubt turned Klopp’s head in the summer.

It may well be that a failed move to Merseyside has affected his commitment to Gladbach, and while this may prove a red flag in terms of character, Klopp could hope to take advantage of his fall in stock at Borussia-Park and return with another bid in the future.

 

Christian Pulisic: North America’s New Star

U.S. forward Christian Pulisic reacts after scoring against Bolivia during the second half of an international friendly soccer match, Saturday, May. 28, 2016, in Kansas City, Kan. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

Liverpool’s last-minute bid for Pulisic seemed to come out of the blue, and while it may have been an opportunistic move from Klopp, there was a clear rationale from the German.

Dortmund had moved to sign Andre Schurrle, Emre Mor, Ousmane Dembele and Mario Gotze prior to the 2016/17 campaign; the latter trio had been on the Reds’ radar, with Gotze the subject of an intense pursuit in May and June.

This quartet added to Shinji Kagawa, Marco Reus, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Adrian Ramos to form a hugely competitive attacking line, and Pulisic’s first-team prospects seemed slim, an opening Klopp could not afford to pass up.

But Dortmund turned down Liverpool’s £11 million offer, and Pulisic has since established himself as a regular under Thomas Tuchel at the Westfalenstadion; with injury to Reus increasing his opportunities.

He has made eight appearances in the Bundesliga—including six starts—with a further four outings in the Champions League—three from the start—scoring two goals and laying on another six.

dortmundpulisicstats

Pulisic has averaged a direct goal contribution every 98 minutes so far this season, and arguably stands as Dortmund’s most in-form, influential attacking talent at present.

At just 18, he is one of Europe’s hottest prospects, and the widely held notion is that he will surpass the likes of Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan as North America’s greatest ever player, with USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann recently saying that he as “limitless potential.”

Back in September it was reported that Pulisic was in “wait-and-see-mode” with regards a contract extension with Dortmund, but Tuchel’s faith in his ability could see him accept the Bundesliga side’s next offer.

 

Will Dahoud and Pulisic Make it to Anfield?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 24, 2016: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp after the FA Premier League match against Hull City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

While it would be remiss to overlook the pulling power of Klopp and Anfield, at this stage in the season it seems that if Liverpool were to return for Dahoud and Pulisic their success rate would land at 50 percent.

Dahoud’s drop down the ranks at Gladbach, with less than two years left on his contract and a reported £8.5 million release clause set to be activated next summer, paints him as attainable.

The 20-year-old would slot in comfortably within Klopp’s midfield system, likely in one of the box-to-box roles currently occupied by two of Wijnaldum, Adam Lallana and Emre Can.

With the Reds likely to qualify for European football in 2017/18, too, he should be afforded plenty of game time, despite the fierce competition presented by the aforementioned trio and Marko Grujic.

On the other hand, however, a successful move for Pulisic seems increasingly unlikely.

The teenage winger is a star in the making, and Dortmund have clearly acknowledged that, with his rise through the ranks, despite four attacking additions in the summer, a testimony of his growing importance.

Pulisic is in a strong position at Dortmund, with no guarantee of a similar role at Anfield; speculation over a renewed bid in January, for example, comes due to key man Sadio Mane‘s impending absence.

Nevertheless, if Klopp is able to sign both Dahoud and Pulisic, the 49-year-old would have pulled off another masterstroke.

But if only Dahoud makes his way to Merseyside, he would still have acquired one top talent.

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