Liverpool’s reluctance over sealing a deal for Timo Werner amid the coronavirus pandemic could be “a bit of a tactic” with RB Leipzig, one journalist has suggested.
A report from The Athletic’s David Ornstein on Friday claimed that despite seeing Werner as “exceptional value for money,” the Reds are “not planning to conduct any major business as things stand.”
The striker himself is said to be planning to “either join Liverpool or stay at Leipzig for a further 12 months and revisit the matter in 2021,” when his release clause drops from £53.4 million to £35.8 million.
Given the club’s quiet summer of 2019, and the expected departure of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to the Africa Cup of Nations in the winter, it can be argued that signing a new forward option is of paramount importance.
Werner fits the mould perfectly, and a meeting with Klopp prior to lockdown indicates this is a feeling shared within Melwood, but perhaps given the current situation, not at the fee projected.
And speaking on The Athletic’s Red Agenda podcast, Simon Hughes pondered whether their reported stance is “a bit of a tactic.”
“The message coming back to us from Liverpool at the moment is taking stock of how this is going to impact on the financial world they operate in,” he explained.
“It will be quite interesting to see if this a bit of a tactic from Liverpool, because if it seems to Leipzig that Liverpool are less interested it might drive down the fee a little bit more.
“Nobody really knows yet how this is going to impact on player values and clearly Liverpool have tried to negotiate around asking prices with Leipzig before for Naby Keita, so we will see.
“The detail about Klopp having some correspondence with him was pretty telling really, because he doesn’t go out of his way for players he doesn’t want.”
Joining Hughes on the podcast, James Pearce speculated whether Liverpool could line up a deal similar to that which brought Naby Keita to Anfield from Leipzig in 2018, allowing Werner to stay for another season before leaving in 2021.
“Werner has attracted interest from a whole host of clubs, his representatives have had contact with Barcelona, Chelsea, Manchester United, but his heart is set on that move to Anfield,” Pearce added.
“I think the question is does it happen this summer, or does he decide to stay put for 12 months?
“I wonder whether we might even see [a deal like the one for Naby Keita].
“There are decent relations between the two clubs, and with Keita, Liverpool thrashed out a deal which meant they effectively waited for 12 months for him to arrive.
“I wonder whether that might even be something that is discussed over the coming weeks.”
Pearce described Werner as “absolutely desperate” to join Liverpool, but Hughes said he would “amazed” if the club met his obligatory £53.4 million release clause this summer.
It would be no surprise if there was an element of gamesmanship in reports over the Reds’ transfer plans, and it could hinge on whether they or Leipzig blink first.
If it is the Bundesliga club, Liverpool could strike an even better deal.