While Schalke continue to struggle through a troubled campaign, three big-name talents’ summer availability should be alerting Liverpool.
After finishing fifth in the Bundesliga last term, three points off the top four, the Gelsenkirchen club will have looked towards 2016/17 with optimism.
In came the impressive former Augsburg manager Markus Weinzierl, along with the likes of Coke, Baba Rahman, Benjamin Stambouli, Baba Rahman, Nabil Bentaleb, Yevhen Konoplyanka, Breel Embolo, forming a talented young squad.
It hasn’t gone as expected for Schalke, with Weinzierl’s side sitting 10th in the German top flight, having lost 11 of their 28 games so far, including their first five in a row.
Compounding this, the club look set to struggle to hold onto their players this summer, following a series of setbacks during contract negotiations.
Three stars who could depart are Sead Kolasinac, Leon Goretzka and Max Meyer, with reports suggesting the trio could be acquired for a combined fee of around £38 million.
Schalke’s struggles both on the field and within the squad are unlikely to have gone unnoticed by Jurgen Klopp.
Given his background with Mainz and Borussia Dortmund, Klopp has a vested interest in the Bundesliga, and his transfer record at Liverpool so far has underlined this.
Alex Manninger and Ragnar Klavan both followed Weinzierl out of Augsburg, while Joel Matip made the move from Gelsenkirchen itself.
Klopp has also, according to Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel, maintained contact with the club, and this connection should see the 49-year-old make a triple summer swoop.
Firstly, the signing of Kolasinac should be a no-brainer: the Bosnian is a readymade, top-level left-back who, after five seasons in the first team at the Veltins-Arena, is set to depart on a free transfer.
Kolasinac will be on every top club’s radar, with Man City and Chelsea among those previously linked, but given Liverpool’s deficiency in his position, he should be a priority.
Meanwhile, Goretzka, who according to BILD is available for around £21 million, possesses all the qualities required to shine in Klopp’s midfield.
The Germany international is a 6’2″, physical talent, able to blend defence and attack, and could operate in any of the roles in Liverpool’s current three-man setup in the middle of the park.
And Meyer, a versatile, high-potential forward reportedly available for £17 million, presents a welcome alternative to another Reds target, Bayer Leverkusen winger Julian Brandt, with the latter attracting interest from Bayern Munich.
While he would arguably be the lowest priority, given the current makeup of Klopp’s squad, Meyer seems the most likely arrival, with his quest for regular first-team football fuelling a move.
At 23, 22 and 21 respectively, Kolasinac, Goretzka and Meyer all fit the profile of a modern-day Liverpool signing.
Solving issues in Klopp’s starting lineup and fleshing out the Reds’ squad ahead of a busy campaign that should see the Reds turn out in Europe once more, their arrivals would be key.
Despite Schalke’s struggles this season, Liverpool moving for the trio would still represent a bold venture, and they would face competition in the market.
All three, however, are seemingly open to a move, and given Klopp’s reputation in Germany, Merseyside could be an enticing option.
For the Reds, qualifying for the Champions League will be imperative if they are to convince talents of the calibre of Meyer, Goretzka and particularly Kolasinac to Anfield.
But at £38 million combined, this would be a bargain influx of stars for Klopp, without compromising on quality, as has undoubtedly been the case during years out of European contention.
The Bundesliga is a breeding ground of high-quality, low-cost talent, and Liverpool must take advantage of this with a raid on Schalke this summer.