No Timo Werner to Liverpool, then? No problem. The football world is full of quality and there’s always, always someone else, something Klopp, Edwards and Co. know.
Jurgen is perfectly happy to wait for his man. He also accepts that, sometimes, that man wants to go elsewhere, play a different role, move at a different time.
Michael Edwards and his crew, fortunately, have extensive coverage of a big wide world of players who could fit the bill—for every Julian Brandt, there’s a Mo Salah.
It’s a key point to remember when a supposed move doesn’t go to plan: there’s always someone else just as high-quality, just as exciting, just as good a fit for the team.
With that in mind, we’ve had a look at some potential candidates the Reds could be considering as an alternative to the Leipzig man, with some key criteria included to whittle down the options.
First up, it seems apparent that the Reds cannot spend an absolute fortune in the coming months, so anyone rated at the £100 million level or over we can forget about—so no Kylian Mbappe or Jadon Sancho, either of which could be more likely next year rather than this.
Secondly, we’re looking to replicate some of Werner’s more favourable traits: the ability to play at least two roles in attack, good pace, attainable and available this precise summer and a capacity to get plenty of shots away.
All those factors mean no mention of out-and-out No. 9s we’ve been linked with, such as Victor Osimhen. But here are a dozen more who do fit the bill, ranging in quality, price and reputation, but all a reasonable alternative to Timo—one of which could yet turn out to be the perfect addition for the Reds.
Top billing: Kai Havertz
No intros needed, by now. Most often looked at as a No. 10 or creative schemer from the right side, he has also got the technical traits and vision to play as a centre midfielder as one of Klopp’s No. 8s…or, more interestingly, at centre-forward.
That’s where he’s featuring for Leverkusen now in Kevin Volland’s absence, where Havertz is less about subtle passing and more about a great aerial presence, very clever movement and quick link-ups with the second line.
He’d cost a fortune, that much is clear. But there’s also potentially as much upside to his game as in someone like Jadon Sancho.
Less speed, more intelligence, perhaps around the £70m mark—so maybe another longer-term target.
Revisiting old flames: Memphis Depay
We could discuss for days the many, many reasons to reconsider a move for Memphis Depay, heavily linked 18 to 24 months ago.
Here are the key factors though: even for a short-term solution, he might be ideal. He plays left side in the ‘Salah’ style—dribbles, cutting in, loads of shots—and plays centrally in the ‘Firmino’ style—link-up play, dropping deep, trying the improbable.
There are character references from Gini and Virgil if it’s really needed, but basically there have been no issues (publicly, at least) of any note for a long, long time.
Price-wise, he’s going to be cheap. Memphis is coming off an ACL injury, which means recovery is naturally is a factor in any decision, but he also has just one year left on his contract and is stalling on a renewal.
Then there’s the fact Lyon aren’t in Europe next season after Ligue 1’s early ending: they will need to raise funds to make up the shortfall and can’t risk losing the Dutch forward for nothing next year.
A reasonably low offer might be enough to snare him and his agency are known to utilise stats and data to ideally place him at teams that suit his style. Liverpool will almost certainly rank extremely highly in that regard.
Serie A success stories: Zaniolo and Chiesa
Nicolo Zaniolo has been recently linked with the Reds, but he’s another who is currently in rehab after an ACL injury.
The Roma man is technically brilliant, tall and powerful on the run, has superb close control and can play anywhere across attacking midfield or wide in a front three.
Valuations are tricky; Roma have already sold the Reds two players of late and the natural instinct if we go back for more will be to think ‘he must be worth more than we thought, then.’
But if his creative talents are harnessed for the long haul, he’d be worth it.
Then there’s Fiorentina star Federico Chiesa.
He’s similar in some ways to Zaniolo—versatile, wide or central, loves to run with the ball at his feet—but completely dissimilar to actually watch.
Chiesa is absurdly powerful for a winger, but uses that strength to barge his way past defenders, hold off challenges and simply keep on driving down the channels.
This season he also transitioned into a centre-forward, though admittedly it was usually as part of a two-man attack rather than a lone striker.
A little greedy at times and not at all clinical, but he’s carrying a team at 22. Give him space to develop and let other quality players help him improve, and Chiesa is nothing short of an elite performer in the making.
Fiorentina have already said they won’t stand in his way this summer if a good offer is forthcoming.
Lock down the left: Bukayo Saka
The local option, relatively speaking. Saka still hasn’t signed a new deal with Arsenal and Liverpool are known to be keen.
Has thrived at left-back, so would provide a good alternative to Andy Robbo there too, but his main strengths are all about going forward.
Down the left, he has great delivery on the run and isn’t afraid to take on his full-back. We’ve not seen too much of him yet from the right wing, but you can bet that dribbling prowess would end in him taking shots with regularity if he was switched.
So much talent to work with, and again just with a year on his deal.
Best of the rest
Lucas Ocampos: Starting in Spain, the Sevilla star is ridiculously powerful for a wide player, attacks the penalty box with aggression and has become a much more clinical player over the past year or so. Great on-the-ball skills and now more consistent, too. And who doesn’t love an Argentinian in the team?
Goncalo Guedes: The Valencia man plays either left side of midfield or as a centre-forward, the latter for Portugal most frequently. He has a rocket shot, beats players easily and has had an often interrupted 19/20, so his stock—and thus price—is a little lower than usual.
Mikel Oyarzabal: A left-footer who plays left-sided, but also up front. He knows where the goal is, takes a lot of responsibility for a relative youngster and is likely to leave Real Sociedad soon…but they will probably play hardball over the fee.
Marcus Thuram: Into Germany, the most promising young forward talent there outside the usual Kai-Jadon-Timo monopoly might be ‘Gladbach’s Marcus Thuram, son of French legend Lilian and a fast, strong and versatile attacker. He plays either side or through the middle; he’s not always clinical but he creates chances as well as scores them and does a lot of good work for the team.
Dodi Lukebakio: Play him wherever you want in the attacking line. He’s rapid, has good feet, is a bit of an all-rounder in terms of strength, skill and how he fares in open play. Still raw, but at 22 can still be moulded into whatever type of forward is needed. One of two at Hertha who are decent options, but the other—Matheus Cunha—has only just signed, thus isn’t included here.
M’Baye Niang: The final two are from France, starting with a former AC Milan striker. It’s taken a while for Niang to find consistency and maturity, but the 25-year-old has definitely done so at Rennes. Wide at times, centrally more often and when he gets going, he’s lightning. The probable route he now takes is to a bigger Ligue 1 club who then make a huge profit in 12 months. Smarter recruitment simply gets him now.
Raphinha: Where Niang is the beneficiary, Raphina is often the supply line. Usually plays from the wing for Rennes but is equally at home in a two-man attack. Good delivery, loves to get shots away from the edge of the box, loads of dribbles one-on-one with defenders.
There’s always someone else!