Unlike Jürgen Klopp, the Mill could not write a book about defending. But we could jot down the first line, which would read: Get good defenders. Slowly but surely Klopp is starting to implement that advice, which is why he has made a high-class centre-back his priority target for this summer, ranking it even higher than getting Liverpool a new goalkeeper (a move that, come to think of it, should be in the preface to the Big Book of Defending).
You want names? How does Jamaal Lascelles grab you? What’s that, Newcastle fans, you’d prefer Liverpool looked at someone else? Well they’re also eyeing up James Tarkowski, apparently. What’s that, Burnley fans, you’d prefer they looked at someone else? Well they’re also monitoring Harry Maguire. But Manchester City also fancy the Leicester colossus, so unless Maguire thinks like Virgil van Dijk, chances are he’ll not be going to Leicester. So it’s Lascelles or Tarkowski for Liverpool, then.
Having said that, Manchester City are having trouble getting anyone out of Leicester these days. The Foxes are still playing hardball over Riyad Mahrez, now demanding a fee of around £70m as well as the nifty young striker Patrick Roberts.
When/if Liverpool get their hands on a new centre-back, they’ll resume their quest for a new goalkeeper. Jack Butland is said to be their first choice but Paris Saint-German’s Alphonse Areola may take their fancy and is expected to be available for less than £25m if the French club complete the signing of Gianluigi Buffon. Roma and Napoli are also keen on Areola.
Manchester United are also in the market for a central defender and had a hot feeling for Sevilla’s Clément Lenglet. But he is poised to join Barcelona instead. And that only hardens United’s affection for Kalidou Koulibaly, who’s currently leading Senegal’s defence at the World Cup. His club, Napoli, won’t let him go cheaply.
Anthony Limbombe isn’t in Belgium’s World Cup squad but Huddersfield are excited enough about the 23-year-old to offer £13m to try to prise him from Club Brugge. Radja Nainggolan isn’t in Belgium’s World Cup squad either but Internazionale are on the verge of luring him from Roma, with the former Newcastle player Davide Santon part of the exchange.
Finally, ex-Premier League club Stoke want James McClean of ex-Premier League West Brom to help them clamber back into the big time.