Liverpool were recently claimed to have made a loan-to-buy offer for Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele, but this has been quickly shot down by sources on Merseyside.
It is never too long between rumours linking the Reds with a move for Dembele, who is a known favourite of Jurgen Klopp.
The manager even met the Frenchman while he was still at Rennes in 2016, prior to his €15 million move to Borussia Dortmund; Liverpool had been quoted €35 million and were seen as front-runners, but Dembele had “made up his mind.”
Though it paid off initially, earning an incredible £135.5 million switch to Barcelona the following year, things have not panned out for Dembele at the Nou Camp, with a sour reputation among fans, and speculation continues.
“It’s been all for nought, however,” Di Marzio added, “as Dembele has made it clear that he doesn’t want to leave Barcelona.”
Case closed, then, surely?
Well, the suggestion that Liverpool are active in the market at a time when journalists close to the club are insistent they are acting with caution was an immediate red flag, but claims of interest in Dembele are always interesting.
But the Evening Standard‘s David Lynch has quashed speculation over a possible deal for the 23-year-old winger, reporting that there has been no loan offer and the club are “currently not considering a summer swoop.”
This should come to little surprise, given the outlay it would require to sign a player of Dembele’s stature—regardless of his standing at Barcelona.
Though a new attacking option is believed to be a priority for the Reds in the next transfer window, finances permitting, the identification of Timo Werner as the No. 1 target reveals the qualities Klopp is seeking.
Dembele is a natural winger, able to play on either flank, but is not elite-level prolific in terms of goals or assists—with 41 goals and 44 assists in 153 games for Rennes, Dortmund and Barcelona—and is regularly injured.
Werner is comfortable across the entire front line, and can be seen as a viable alternative to any of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah; he has scored 92 and assisted 39 in 154 games for RB Leipzig and, crucially, is very rarely injured.
They are even of a similar age, with Werner a year and two months older, ensuring there is little benefit in pursuing Dembele over the Germany international.
It could have been a case of Liverpool exploring their options—particularly if it was a straight loan deal, with a view to signing Werner when his release clause is reduced to £35.75 million in 2021—though that is unlikely.
But either way, common sense seems to have prevailed.