The Confederations Cup may be an international tournament which takes a back seat, but there are still plenty of players to look out for as Liverpool enter the transfer market.
While scouts loiter with intent at the UEFA U21 European Championships, fresh from their trip to Korea for the U20 World Cup, the Confederations Cup seems, on the face of it, a less attractive prospect for those looking for the next big thing.
However, a German side with a next-gen feel, a forever intriguing post-Bielsa/Sampaoli Chile squad, a Russia team desperate not to embarrass themselves as hosts, and a Portugal side searching for their Cristiano Ronaldo replacements, make this a surprisingly interesting tournament.
That said it can be difficult to judge players based on this competition alone, as it occasionally has the feel of a friendly competition, serving merely as a dry run for the 2018 World Cup.
It’s especially difficult because many of the standout players are already on the move.
One choice would have been Hirving Lozano of Mexico, but he’s just moved to PSV Eindhoven, and another would have been Australian goalkeeper Mathew Ryan who recently joined Brighton & Hove Albion.
What follows is a look at some players who might be worth keeping an eye on in the coming months and years, as Liverpool look to build a solid squad of players able to qualify for and compete in the Champions League each season.
Leon Goretzka – Germany – Midfielder
With a contract which runs out next summer, Goretzka is a name which could regularly appear in the transfer rumour pages this summer.
He’s a 22-year-old right footed central midfielder who plays most of his football in front of a defensive holding player, and would be ideal for Liverpool’s second midfield slot.
At 6’2” he strides through the midfield, using his drive, skill, and range of passing to help his team advance.
In Germany’s game against Chile in the group stages he played in a right sided attacking midfield slot, moving into central areas when his side had the ball.
He managed eight goals and six assists from his 39 games for Schalke in the Bundesliga and Europa League last season, and he will be expecting to improve on this return in the future.
There’s a vacant number eight shirt at Liverpool, which also happens to be Goretzka’s number in this Germany squad…
Benjamin Henrichs – Germany – Full Back
Henrichs is a right footed full back who can play on either side of the defence.
He’s moved to the position on more of a full-time basis this past season, having spent much of his youth playing in midfield.
He brings those talents with him to the fullback position, displaying both attacking and defensive strengths, as well as the ability to quickly get up and down whichever flank he’s on.
Some of the top clubs in England have been linked with the 20-year-old and seeing as Liverpool already have a right footer at left back, it might be worth signing a specialist in the inverted full back position, and Henrichs fits the bill.
Timo Werner – Germany – Striker
The arrival of Mohamed Salah has boosted Liverpool’s forward line considerably and he, Mane, Firmino, Sturridge, Ojo, and Origi look set to trouble many an opposition defence next season.
If either Sturridge or Origi leave the club, however, then another striker will be needed and Werner would be the ideal option for Klopp given his profile. He’s a hard worker with great pace and good movement in the final third.
More importantly, he scored 21 goals and made seven assists in the league last season; which is considerably more than Liverpool’s top scorers from last season — Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane — who managed 13 each.
Prising any player from RB Leipzig will be difficult though, so this could be an option for further down the line.
Aleksandr Golovin – Russia – Midfielder/Attacking Midfielder
The 21-year-old is one of Russia’s great hopes for their World Cup next year and has shown good versatility in his formative years at CSKA Moscow.
He’s played in a range of positions from defensive midfield to left wing but is perhaps most comfortable in the middle of the park in front of another holding midfielder where he can combine his attacking and defensive traits to win the ball and drive his team into the opposition half.
Arsenal were recently linked with a move for the player but in a strange turn of events their scout, Pavel Kucherov, came out and publicly gave the reasons why they wouldn’t be signing him.
“This player is not talented enough for European level and it’s unrealistic to discuss his transfer to a top EPL club,” he said.
“Alexandr would need to improve his football in general, as well as his physical, psychological and mental attributes.”
Not a glowing reference, but if he can continue his form at club level while also improving his national side, more clubs will be interested this time next year.
Gary Medel – Chile – Defensive Midfielder / Defender
In the shape of Can and Jordan Henderson Liverpool have a couple of midfielders capable of playing the deep lying role, but neither could play it in the way Medel could.
He’s a gnarly, aggressive, heel snapping, ball winning defensive midfielder. The type not seen at Anfield since Javier Mascherano.
Medel would add some bite in front of the back four and as he’s approaching 30 the two-time Copa America winner would offer a good deal of experience to a fairly young Liverpool squad.
He left the field injured at the end of their game against Germany in which he played centre back, as he often does at international level.
With a couple of injuries in recent years and at the age of 29, he’s not the typical FSG signing, but he would still be a useful addition.
Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa – Cameroon – Midfielder
The obligatory wildcard, and yet another midfielder, but one who will be interesting to watch over the next few years.
He’s played mostly as a central midfielder, using his all round ability to operate between the boxes and cause trouble in and out of possession.
The 21-year-old also played some of his club football at Marseille as a defensive midfielder, so could do a job there if needed and provide an energetic and harrying presence in front of the back four.
He’d just have to improve his positioning to play there on a full-time basis.