Liverpool have been tipped to pursue a deal for Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar at the right price, as they step up their recruitment analysis in the wake of the pandemic.
The Reds have already pulled out of a long-anticipated move for RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner, with the German now set to join Chelsea for a fee of around £50 million.
It is a development that has sparked confusion among many fans, but Jurgen Klopp has explained that “at the moment, all clubs are losing money,” and to sanction such a high-value deal would be negligent.
There is sense in this, as Liverpool cannot rely upon the significant revenue of matchdays due to the absence of fans, with funds previously earmarked for signings now needing to be reinvested.
Bringing Werner in was a no-brainer prior to the coronavirus outbreak, with the 24-year-old seeming a perfect fit and widely acknowledged as the ideal addition, but now the Reds will need to be more creative.
That is according to the Mirror‘s David Maddock, who spoke to the Blood Red podcast on the financial impact of football’s suspension and Liverpool’s need to target ‘below premium’ players.
“In many ways, the analysis and tracking that they do of players, I think they will expand it now,” Maddock said.
“Because it’s even more important to look and find players at the right age group who you can bring in to add quality to your squad without necessarily having to go out and pay the premium that they did, for instance, with Van Dijk and Alisson.
“You need to find players that are below that premium, like Salah and Mane, who actually cost a lot of money at the time but ended up being an incredible bargain.
“Wijnaldum turned out to be an incredible bargain, and Andy Robertson was the perfect example of that.
“So they’re looking even more now, and they’ll step up even more because, because they don’t know what the future is, it’s so vital that they don’t spend massive amounts of money on signings.”
One such player could be Aouar, the 21-year-old midfielder who has already made 133 appearances for Lyon, but is being touted for a move away from the Ligue 1 side, who have admitted they are open to offers.
That will still come at a considerable cost, of course, but Maddock gave an overview of the situation, including a hypothetical stance from president Jean-Michel Aulas—and the terms that Liverpool may require to pursue a deal this summer.
“Aouar is a really good example. They’ve tracked him, there’s absolutely no doubt, since before he got into the Lyon first team,” he continued.
“He was involved in youth-level tournaments when Liverpool first were aware of him. I think they will continue to track him because they’ll see his development.
“It’s unlikely he will leave this summer, I think Lyon would have sold him this summer under normal circumstances, but the market has dropped for everybody.
“So Lyon can’t afford to buy players anymore unless they sell, but they can’t sell because the players are potentially not worth as much in this current market as they were a few months ago.
“I’ve just seen stuff linking Memphis Depay to clubs like Everton and Dortmund, or another relatively largish European club, and they were linking for £30 million.
“This is Memphis Depay, who has a year left on his contract. He also has an ACL injury that he’s currently recovering from.
“So who in their right hand is going to spend £30 million on a player who only has a year left on his contract, and has an ACL injury that which could rule him out for half of that year?
“There’s no way Lyon are getting £30 million for Depay.
“They would want £50 million for Aouar; they’re not going to get that now. So what do they do?
“Maybe next summer the market is back, the fans are back, coronavirus has a vaccine, everything’s back to normal and you can suddenly ask for the pre-coronavirus prices again. It’s a real dilemma.
“If [Aulas] says ‘I’ve got no option but to sell, and if it means selling him for £20 million, we’ll sell him for £20 million’, then I think clubs like Liverpool will go ‘even that’s a risk when we don’t know what the future is, but it’s not a big risk’.
“He’s young enough, because he’s only 21, that they could sell him on and make a profit.
“I’d be reluctant to say Liverpool will not make any signings in this current market, because you never know.
“It could be that some players become available at knock-down prices, because their clubs are in such financial trouble—and I think Lyon could well be—but at the moment they’re obviously going to try and get as much as possible.”