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Liverpool summer could be kickstarted by Neymar and end with Bundesliga scramble

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The future of the transfer market is one of the great intangibles in football right now, with no one fully sure on how much money will be spent, and who will be spending that money. It could present Europe’s top leagues with a real poker-face scenario, waiting for each other to blink, before throwing their chips on to the table.

Dan Morgan wrote an excellent piece exploring how – long story short – Kylian Mbappe’s proposed move to Real Madrid will lead to a real domino effect, leading to Jadon Sancho moving to Manchester City, and Timo Werner heading to Anfield. This hypothesis fascinated me, and was a reminder of when Neymar moved to Paris St-Germain and kickstarted several moves – including Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona, and therefore Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker to Liverpool.

So what sort of sequence can we expect when the market fully reopens, whether that is this summer, next summer, or even further beyond? Who would be the player who opens everything and, in the process, will give Liverpool an opportunity to move for whichever player deemed worthy of moving to Anfield?



This is the very-unlikely-but-it’s-June-so-let’s-have-some-fun-scenarios which can lead to Liverpool making their biggest transfer decision of all.



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The first domino: Neymar to Real Madrid

I understand why Mbappe is a popular choice for this, but why is it so certain the World Cup winner will be the first to depart Paris St-Germain? His dream move appears to be Real Madrid, but he is still just 21 and, although he would move for a world record fee, the Ligue 1 giants want to win the Champions League, and their best chance to do that is keeping the French striker for a few more years. Neymar, however, is a little bit more dispensable, and would still command a big fee. He is 27, has been involved in some high-profile run-ins in the capital, and would love to become the main man at the Bernabeu.

The second domino: Eden Hazard to Manchester United

United are going to go big this summer. There is already the suggestion the club have taken out a £140million loan in order to win, and win now. While the main name being linked is Jadon Sancho, Neymar’s move to Spain would potentially threaten the end of Hazard’s pretty disappointing time in Madrid after his move from Chelsea last summer; he has looked a shadow of the player who delighted at Stamford Bridge, and seems the sort of marquee signing United would fall for.

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The third domino: Paul Pogba to Barcelona

Sure, United have money, but they will want to raise a little bit more – and can do so by moving Pogba on. This is a move which just makes all the sense in the world. Barca will fund this by selling about eight of their squad, but will still probably get the midfielder for a reduced fee because he has just one year left on his contract. Like the other two moves, this just kind of feels right. Barca get their marquee signing, Pogba gets to operate away from a place he is clearly disillusioned with, and United receive even more money to splurge.

The fourth domino: Philippe Coutinho to… wherever… but not Bayern Munich

It is almost certain Coutinho will move on from Camp Nou, his dream move turning into the ultimate nightmare. It is also almost certain he will not remain at Bayern, where he has been for the past season; the Bundesliga leaders have seemingly made it explicit he will not be retained beyond his loan deal. That means the Brazilian will be heading elsewhere. Newcastle seems a good pick, if their takeover is completed. They will be desperate to make a splash.

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The fifth domino: Timo Werner, Jadon Sancho or Kai Havertz to Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Chelsea

And so, we have the ‘Bundesliga three’, and the three clubs who will either need a replacement, or are clearly in the market for an attacking player if the price is right. With Coutinho not remaining at Bayern, they will need a player capable of playing out wide (but, in the same fashion of Serge Gnabry, could also operate through the middle). Chelsea, like United, are going for it this summer. Liverpool, well, we know all about Liverpool.

And so, unlike the others, this could become a bunfight. Of course Liverpool are showing interest in Werner and, from most accounts, it seems that Werner only wants Liverpool. But these sort of situations have arisen before; Chelsea are now being linked, while Bayern were where Liverpool once were, seemingly waiting for when not if they could sign the RB Leipzig star.

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It is almost unimaginable Liverpool would be forced into any sort of deal for a player they don’t like, but the reality is you can’t help but like Sancho and Havertz. Their price may be prohibitive, and the fact a triple threat bidding war could emerge might make it even more difficult to prise them for an affordable price. However, the likes of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah have shown Liverpool will still spend on a player who, though not initially first-choice, still shows up well on the analytics.

As things stand, clubs are waiting for the right moment to begin their negotiations. That is understandable given the current climate. But at some point, one club will make their move, and it could lead to several more happening. Liverpool will not sign Werner (or Sancho, or Havertz) because of what an unrelated club has decided to do with an unrelated player – but it could kick-start a market which will drag its heels for a good while longer as the world adapts to its new way of living.


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