Reports in Italy have claimed Liverpool are vying with Real Madrid and Chelsea in the “race” to sign previous target Piotr Zielinski from Napoli.
Zielinski was the subject of a long-running saga on Merseyside in the summer, with Udinese rejecting the Reds’ £12 million bid for the midfielder, who eventually made the move to Naples.
Liverpool ultimately signed Georginio Wijnaldum from Newcastle United, but Jurgen Klopp could still have his eye on another midfielder in the near future.
Sensing opportunity, Italian publication Corriere dello Sport has claimed the Reds are in competition with both Real and Chelsea to sign the 22-year-old after just one year with Napoli.
Real are said to be frontrunners to secure Zielinski’s signature, with interest from the Premier League serving as an obstacle in their efforts.
Furthermore, Zielinski is reported to have a £60 million release clause in his contract, making even Real’s pursuit all the more unlikely, and links with Liverpool decidedly comic.
The Reds will no doubt be linked with a plethora of players between now and the summer, after Klopp failed to add to his squad in January.
Given the circumstances, reviving their interest in Zielinski seems near impossible, though his return to the rumour mill does provide a welcome juncture to assess his form for Napoli.
At Udinese, Zielinski was an impressive box-to-box midfielder who showed signs of becoming a top-level creative talent, and a £12 million move would have provided Liverpool with great value.
But in his first seven months at the Stadio San Paolo, the Poland international has progressed considerably, benefiting from playing in one of Europe’s finest attacking sides.
This has been particularly apparent since December, with Zielinski scoring twice and assisting five in nine Serie A games, including the opener in Napoli’s 3-0 victory at home to Inter Milan.
His industry in midfield, creative guile and willingness to follow through with intelligent third-man runs makes him an interesting prospect for the future, and he would likely have flourished under Klopp.
Meanwhile, both Wijnaldum and Emre Can have both struggled to score or assist with any consistency, leaving Adam Lallana to shoulder the burden in Liverpool’s midfield three.
Particularly alarming was Klopp’s recent admission that Can was playing through injury in January, with the Reds arguably in need of another dependable body in midfield.
Klopp can be expected to dip into the market for another midfielder in the summer, with Borussia Monchengladbach’s Mahmoud Dahoud a potential target—but don’t bank on a move for Zielinski.