Liverpool are on the verge of gazumping Manchester United and completing a £37million (€42m) deal for Holland international Cody Gakpo in the January transfer window.
The surprise Anfield move is advancing with Liverpool in the process of finalising talks with PSV Eindhoven for the 23-year-old and pencilling in a medical within the next 48 hours. The fee could rise to a £50m (€57m) package.
In securing a deal, Jurgen Klopp is inflicting a major setback to United and their coach Erik ten Hag, who had made Gakpo a prime target and seemed confident of agreeing terms.
Although Liverpool have been linked with several central midfielders, Klopp has shifted attention to his forward line, too, because of injuries to Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota.
Gakpo has been earmarked to play on the left of Klopp’s three-man attack, reinforcing the options alongside Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and – when fit again – Roberto Firmino.
Liverpool have been scouting Gakpo for some time and originally considered him a longer-term target. But with echoes of last January’s move for Diaz – when Liverpool hijacked a deal after Tottenham Hotspur were advanced in negotiations – the Merseyside club has decided to react to circumstances.
There is a recognition at Liverpool that if they fail to join the bidding now the likelihood is Gakpo will move elsewhere.
Gakpo shone for Holland during the recent World Cup in Qatar, where he scored in all three of his country’s group games.
Klopp had the ideal scout in place to assess the player’s talents given Virgil van Dijk is the Dutch captain.
Should the transfer proceed, it will be another transfer coup for Liverpool and ease fears that recent behind-the-scenes turbulence will have any negative impact on the club’s strategy.
Sporting director Julian Ward recently announced that he will leave Anfield this summer, but Klopp offered assurances last Friday that it has no influence on the club’s ability to make signings in January.
He made similar remarks when it was revealed that the club’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, are openly seeking fresh investment into Anfield to help lure the world’s most coveted stars.
Speaking ahead of tonight’s game with Notthingham Forest, United boss Ten Hag insisted getting the right man was more important than simply adding another striker.
“And, yes, we are aware we lost a striker, so I think, yes, we have to get a striker in,” the United manager said.