In Brief

Liverpool transfer news: Virgil van Dijk still open to Anfield move

Southampton defender has no regrets after trying to force the transfer

Virgil van Dijk has sent what the Metro describes as a “new transfer plea” to Liverpool. 

The 26-year-old has been repeatedly linked with a move from Southampton to Anfield and he went so far as to hand in a transfer request in August. It came to nothing and the Saints have since reiterated their determination to hang on to the Dutch defender.

But the £50million-rated blocker, on international duty this week, says he has “no regrets” about what happened over the summer.

“I wanted to go one step up, but eventually Southampton did not want to let me go,” he confessed. “But you’re a professional, so now I’ll give everything to the club.”

Van Dijk has only recently returned to full fitness after a long spell on the sidelines with injury, but with rumours still linking him with a move to Liverpool, possibly as early as January, he appeared open to the idea.

“Halfway through the season, maybe we can see what’s possible,” he said when asked about the possibility of leaving Southampton.

According to the Daily Express Leeds United are “weighing up a January move” for Danny Ings. 

Since arriving on Merseyside from Burnley in 2015, the striker’s appearances have been limited by injury and although he made a rare appearance against Leicester in last month’s League Cup tie, the Express says the club now regard him as surplus to requirements.

The 25-year-old is being eyed up by Leeds and they are confident that the prospect of regular game-time will persuade Ings to drop down to the Championship. It’s a league he knows well from his time with Burnley, for whom he scored 21 goals in 40 appearances when he last played there in 2013-14.

Reds may miss out on Leon Goretzka

29 September

The Reds have suffered what Caughtoffside describes as “a big blow” in their pursuit of Leon Goretzka: chased by both Liverpool and Juventus in recent months, the 22-year-old Schalke star is said to be on the brink of signing for Bayern Munich.

The news will be a boon for Bayern fans, still coming to terms with their 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain and the subsequent sacking of Carlo Ancelotti, but a kick in the teeth for Liverpool.

Their interest in the international midfielder was genuine and Jurgen Klopp was known to have sent his scouts to Schalke in recent weeks. But, according to Italian outlet CalcioMercato, Goretzka “will be allowed to discuss contract details” with the German champions in January as he enters the six months of his contract.

Goretzka’s expected arrival is also a sign of Bayern’s determination to rebuild after a disappointing few months.

The Liverpool Echo reports the latest charm offensive by Virgil van Dijk as the Southampton defender does everything in his power to persuade the Reds into making a January swoop for him.  

Having described Liverpool as England’s best hope of winning the Champions League earlier in the week, Van Dijk has now rated Daniel Sturridge as his most difficult opponent.

At a promotional event for a new video game, the wantaway Dutch defender was asked to name his toughest opponent and he replied: “I think Sturridge when he is fit. He’s a great striker.”

While Van Dijk’s brown-nosing may impress Liverpool, it remains to be seen whether it will have much effect on Southampton, who thus far have refused to accede to his demands for a transfer to Anfield.

Southampton have no plans to sell Virgil van Dijk

27 September

The Saints have marched right over Liverpool’s hopes of signing Virgil van Dijk, says the Daily Express

According to the paper, Southampton have “no plans to ever sell” the Dutch defender despite the fact he’s made it clear he would like to move to Anfield. 

The transfer tussle was played out in early summer, with the Saints eventually warning Liverpool they would report them for tapping up Van Dijk if they didn’t desist in their courtship.

Although the Reds publicly apologised, Jurgen Klopp is still desperate to sign Van Dijk to shore up a defence that has leaked 12 goals in the last five matches.

Southampton are adamant that Van Dijk, who has only recently returned to the first team after recovering from a lengthy spell out injured, will not leave St Mary’s until they say so. As he’s contracted until 2022, that could be a while yet.

Not that that’s stopped the Dutch international making eyes at the Reds. As Metro reports, when he was asked last night which English club he believes will go furthest in the Champions League this season, he replied: “I think Liverpool and Man City, maybe.”  

Meanwhile, the Liverpool Echo says Real Madrid intend to rival the Reds for the hand of Christian Pulisic. The 19-year-old winger has been on Jurgen Klopp’s radar for a while but the Echo says that the European champions have now earmarked the Borussia Dortmund as a 2018 target. 

So far the German outfit have refused to listen to offers but the possibility of a bidding war breaking out between two top clubs could change their mind next year.

Barcelona optimistic of Philippe Coutinho transfer

26 September

As Liverpool prepare to negotiate an awkward away tie against Spartak Moscow in the Champions League this evening, they have the unwanted distraction of more rumours concerning Philippe Coutinho, reports The Sun

The paper says that Barcelona “have not given up hope” of signing the Brazilian playmaker. Reports in Catalonia suggest that they will pounce after Christmas.

Despite sustained attention from Barca last month, the Reds fended off interest and kept hold of the 25-year-old, even in the face of allegations that he and manager Jurgen Klopp had fallen out over the issue.

But the Sun, citing the Spanish paper Sport, claims that Barcelona have “remained in regular contact” with Coutinho’s agents and are cautiously optimistic that a deal could happen in January.

Failing that, the Spanish giants will make a concerted effort to lure the South American to the Camp Nou next summer. Apparently Coutinho and his agent are seeking “an amicable exit from the club” but Liverpool are unlikely to look favourably on any attempt by the midfielder to extricate himself from Anfield.

The Daily Express says Liverpool’s league position in January might play a decisive part in any transfer negotiations. 

If the board believe they have no chance of winning the Premier League title then the “American owners will let the 25-year-old leave”, and use the money to strengthen the squad in the summer.

The paper adds that Fenway Sports Group, who own the Merseyside club, “have held meetings with Philippe Coutinho’s representatives and have agreed to listen to Barca when the transfer window reopens”.

Reds face battle to sign Milinkovic-Savic 

19 September

One of the two Manchester clubs could scupper Liverpool’s hopes of signing Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, reports talkSPORT

The broadcaster says that the “22-year-old Lazio midfielder was the subject of a £24million bid from Anfield” in the summer and although unsuccessful it’s believed Jurgen Klopp plans to have a second crack in January given the Reds indifferent start to the season.

But the German will be dismayed to hear the comments of Mateja Kezman - the former Chelsea striker turned agent - who was asked by Radio CRC what his client’s plans were next year.

“If Milinkovic-Savic keeps this up, there will be plenty of contact from different clubs, like there was over the summer,” replied Kezman. “There’s been a lot of pressing from several clubs, such as those in Madrid, Manchester and Milan, but the lad wants to be happy, play to keep growing and become one of the best in his role.”

Pointedly omitting to mention Liverpool, Kezman’s comments will be construed as a snub to the Merseysiders and a brazen hint to which ever Manchester club has been courting Milinkovic-Savic to keep up their interest ahead of January’s transfer window

Meanwhile Liverpool’s interest in Leon Goretzka has led Schalke to draw up plans to award the 22-year-old midfielder a salary increase in an attempt to secure his loyalty.

German outlet Kicker says that the Reds and Juventus have both been sniffing around Goretzka in recent weeks and that’s prompted the German club to prepare a record wage increase that will see his annual salary rocket from €2m to as much as €10m. 

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus target Sadio Mane

18 September

Sadio Mane sat out Liverpool’s match against Burnley on Saturday and according to the Daily Mirror he could be missing permanently from the Reds before long. 

The paper claims that Liverpool face a battle to keep hold of the frontman with Mane attracting interest from Europe.

The 25-year-old Senegal ace was suspended at the weekend but his form in recent matches has caught the eye of Real Madrid and Barcelona, as well as Italian champions Juventus.

As the Mirror says, Jurgen Klopp will not be amused to discover that Barcelona have switched their attention from Philippe Coutinho to Mane, a player who has become increasingly influential at Anfield.

Since moving to Merseyside from Southampton last year for just £11.8million, Mane is now a key member of Klopp’s squad but the German will have to ward off suitors in January.

As for Coutinho, the Brazilian has made his first public statement about his summer transfer saga during an interview with ESPN Brazil

“What happened was a job offer and, in life, sometimes you get interested; sometimes you don’t and, in my case, everyone knows that I got interested, my family too,” said Coutinho, who made his first start of the Premier League season in the 1-1 draw against Burnley.

“It’s an honour to receive an offer like that, but it’s also an honour to be here [at Liverpool].”

And Coutinho also moved to quash rumours of a rift between himself and Klopp, saying: “I earned my place during the last four, five years and I’ve never had a problem with anyone here. I’ve always respected the support very much of the groups. The players, the directors, the technical staff. And that hasn’t changed at all.”

And on the question of whether he might yet make a move to Barcelona, the South American said: “No, nothing that I know of. I’m in a place where I’m very respected by everyone and I also always respect everyone.”

De Vrij or Van Dijk for Klopp

14 September

Liverpool have devised a cunning plan to ensure they sign a top-class defender in the New Year, according to The Sun.

While the paper says that Jurgen Klopp hasn't given up on prising Virgil van Dijk from Southampton, the Liverpool manager has also earmarked Lazio defender Stefan de Vrij as a possible buy in January.

The Dutchman is an international team-mate of Van Dijk and he is out of contract with the Italian club next summer.

Lazio are reportedly trying to persuade De Vrij to sign a new deal but they are also ready, in the event they fail in that task, to sell him in January so that he doesn't leave on a free transfer in June.

The Sun says that Klopp is a fan of De Vrij and if he can't persuade the Saints to sell Van Dijk then he'll make a play for his compatriot. However, the paper reports, Liverpool are likely to face competition from Juventus and Inter Milan, who were both linked with £25m bids over the summer and remain in the hunt.

Elsewhere and International Business Times has some bad tidings for Liverpool, namely that Red Bull Leipzig have "confirmed" that striker Timo Werner does not have a release clause in his contract.

That's a blow for both Liverpool and Real Madrid as they have been tracking the 21-year-old, whose goals helped the German club into this season's Champions League.

But IBT says that the Bundesliga club are under no pressure to sell the young sharpshooter despite reports from Germany claiming that Liverpool and Real are ready to offer upwards of £23m for Werner.

"He has a contract until 2020 and he feels at home here," said club director Oliver Mintzlaff. "We are playing in the Champions League. With this we can offer Timo everything to continue his development here. We are completely relaxed."

Will Virgil van Dijk finally join in January?

12 September

Virgil van Dijk could yet move to Anfield in January, reports the Liverpool Echo, with the paper claiming that the Southampton defender has not given up on a transfer to Merseyside. 

Apparently the Dutch defender, who featured for the Saints Under-23 side last night as he works his way back from injury, was confident he would seal the deal last month having agreed personal terms with the Reds but the plans fell through at the 11th hour.

The Echo alleges that was the fault of Southampton, who due to their recent takeover by Chinese businessman Gao Jisheng, had little need of the £55million that Liverpool were ready to pay for Van Dijk.

But with the Reds suffering a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City on Saturday, manager Jurgen Klopp is more desperate than ever to reinforce his back four.

Additionally, Van Dijk has one crucial thing going for him and that is that he won’t be cup tied for European football for the second half of the competition.

That makes him all the more appealing, not only for the Reds, but also for Chelsea, who were also linked to the Holland international over the summer.

Over at talkSPORT there is a report that Real Madrid have joined Liverpool in pursuit of Leipzig striker Timo Werner. 

The 21-year-old came of age last season for the German club, and then cemented his reputation for scoring goals while playing for his country in the summer Confederations Cup.

That brought Werner to the attention of Klopp, but Talksport claim that the Spanish giants are also now on his tail and “believe he is a future star in the making”.

Oxlade-Chamberlain joined Reds because of Klopp

8 September

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has heaped praise on Jurgen Klopp in an interview that can only be construed as a subtle attack on his former manager.

The ‘Ox’ moved from Arsenal to Liverpool last week, passing up the opportunity to sign a new deal with the Gunners and make more money with a new and improved contract.

At the time he said his decision was not about the money, and the England winger has revealed to the official Liverpool FC website what motivated him to leave the Emirates. 

Talking about Klopp, the 24-year-old Oxlade-Chamberlain said: “Even as a neutral watching him last season, you [could see] he’s a really interesting character and someone that seems very inspiring for people that aren’t even involved in the club. Watching him, his passion and how much he cares about the game.”

In contrast, in recent seasons Arsene Wenger has been criticised for his demeanour, often sitting slumped in the dugout as his team crashes to another defeat.

In addition, said the Ox, now warming to his theme: “The thing that stood out for me was his relationship with the players, how close he seems to bond with the players on and off the field. That’s massive and it’s definitely a big plus when you’re looking to progress, having that relationship with the manager; that definitely helps.”

Again, Oxlade-Chamberlain was rumoured to have grown frustrated with the way his development had stalled at Arsenal, where in recent months he was either on the bench or playing wing-back, and the move to Liverpool is clearly an attempt to breath fresh life into his career.

Finally, said the former Gunner, who’s expected to make his Liverpool debut in tomorrow’s early Premier League match against Manchester City, “the way his teams play, that’s definitely inspirational for me and was one of the instrumental - if not the main reason - that I felt this place was definitely the place for me”.

If that praise doesn’t have Klopp purring then surely the sight of Philippe Coutinho back training will put a spring in the step of the Reds boss.

The Liverpool Echo reports that the Brazilian was “all smiles” yesterday when he returned to the Melwood training ground after international duty in South America. 

Despite rumours saying Coutinho hasn’t forgiven Klopp for scuppering his summer move to Barcelona, the Echo reports that he was warmly greeted by his manager, and was seen laughing and joking with teammates as they went through their paces.

Ben Woodburn set for huge pay rise

7 September

Such is Ben Woodburn’s standing at Anfield that the Daily Mirror says the Reds will give the teenage star a “huge pay rise on his 18th birthday”. 

The Welsh wonder reaches adulthood on October 15. Despite his tender years, he has shown astonishing composure in recent days, reigniting his country’s World Cup ambitions with two superb displays.

Having shot to fame, Woodburn is already attracting attention from some of Europe’s biggest and greediest clubs. The Mirror says that Liverpool therefore want to secure their young star on a “long term deal to keep him at the club for at least the next six years”.  

Apparently negotiations are underway on a deal that will result in his first full professional contract, which could mean a weekly pay packet of £25,000. 

At the moment, says the Mirror, Liverpool’s wage structure limits under 18s in the first year of a professional contract to a basic salary of £40,000 a year, “which is designed to give them a better perspective on their careers”.

Woodburn, who joined the Reds aged seven and signed a three-year deal last November, is now in line to receive a sharp wage hike in recognition of his development over the past year.

One player who doesn’t have such a healthy relationship with Liverpool of late is Philippe Coutinho. But The Sun reports that manager Jurgen Klopp is “urging his squad to welcome back the wantaway star”.  

The 25-year-old has made no secret of his wish to join Barcelona and there was talk earlier in the summer that he and Klopp had fallen out over the latter’s refusal to sanction a move to the Camp Nou. 

But the Sun says that the Brazilian, who arrived back in the UK last night after international duty, is due to feature for the Reds this weekend. Klopp wants the players and the fans to let bygones be bygones, the paper adds.

Philippe Coutinho may refuse to play in Champions League

5 September 

Philippe Coutinho could “refuse to play for Liverpool in the Champions League”, according to the Daily Mirror, as the Brazilian playmaker nurses a grudge after failing to secure his dream move to Barcelona last month. 

The Reds yesterday named Coutinho in their 25-man squad for the Champions League, which begins next week, but the Mirror claims he is so “desperate” to move to Spain that he may resort to drastic measures.

Drawing on a report in Spanish newspaper Sport, the British tabloid says that Coutinho “is worried his participation could prevent him from starring for Barca in the knockout stages”.

The 25 year old is still hopeful that he will join the Catalan giants in the New Year, according to the Mirror, but he would be able to play for them in the Champions League only if he hasn't appeared in the competition for the Reds.

Liverpool, who are pooled with Sevilla, Spartak Moscow and Maribor, named Coutinho in their squad despite the fact he has yet to play this season because of illness and a back injury.

The Reds “want to reintegrate Coutinho swiftly back into their ranks”, says the paper, But much will depend on whether he’s repaired his relationship with Jurgen Klopp, which has allegedly deteriorated in recent weeks, reports the Daily Mail.

Meanwhile, The Sun says that Naby Keita could play for Liverpool this season if Klopp “pays RB Leipzig a further premium fee”.

A deal for the 22-year-old was agreed last month, with the Reds paying the German outfit £48m for the midfielder, who is scheduled to arrive at Anfield next July.

But The Sun claims that Leipzig may be willing to let him leave in January if Liverpool cough up more cash.

Much will also depend on how the German club fare in the Bundesliga and Champions League between now and the New Year: if they fail to last the pace in both competitions, Leipzig may be more willing to let Keita exit early.

Oxlade-Chamberlain wanted to play under Klopp 

31 August

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has agreed terms with Liverpool and will be officially unveiled as a Red later today, says the Liverpool Echo

The paper can hardly contain its glee in reporting the news, noting that the Arsenal winger opted for Anfield over Stamford Bridge. Why? Well, not for money with the Echo saying the 24-year-old could have earned more by moving to Chelsea instead of signing a £40m (£35m plus adds ons) five-year deal with Liverpool.

In the end it came down to what the paper describes as "the pulling power" of Reds boss Jurgen Klopp.

The Ox feels his career has stalled in recent seasons under the aimless direction of Arsene Wenger, and by signing for Liverpool he hopes to reinvigorate his career and claim a place in England's World Cup squad next year.

"Oxlade-Chamberlain had long since been casting admiring glances towards Liverpool and their Klopp-inspired resurgence," says the Echo. "He had seen how the likes of Emre Can and Roberto Firmino had blossomed under the guidance of Klopp and wanted his development to receive a similar shot in the arm."

Klopp for his part sees Oxlade-Chamberlain as a player whose versatility can enhance his squad as they look to challenge for domestic and European silverware this season and the German is confident "he can help take his game to the next level".

Meanwhile the Independent confirms Oxlade-Chamberlain's capture and adds that the Reds are "persisting with their £74m pursuit of Monaco’s Thomas Lemar" as they look to complete their biggest outlay in a transfer window.  

The Indy says that Liverpool have been torn in recent days between making a move for Lemar or pursuing Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk but "it was decided over the course of Wednesday afternoon to continue trying to sign Lemar".

Klopp feels the Frenchman would add more depth to his squad than Van Dijk and is quietly confident he can persuade Monaco to part company with the 21-year-old winger. The deal will include cash and Divock Origi thrown into the bargain, giving a grand total of £74m.

Reds are ready for Oxlade-Chamberlain raid

30 August 

Are Liverpool going to commit last-minute larceny and steal Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from under the noses of Chelsea?

The Sun says that could be the case with the Reds positioning themselves for a raid on the England and Arsenal winger despite stories earlier in the week suggesting the 24-year-old was on the verge of signing for the Blues.

It's known that the 'Ox' is edging towards the exit at the Emirates after the Gunners' calamitous start to the season but the Sun says that Chelsea are becoming worried he "could snub them for Liverpool as personal terms talks stall".

It's not true that Oxlade-Chamberlain asked to leave the England camp to finalise his move to Stamford Bridge and in fact he is "getting cold feet over a £40million move".

That's wonderful news for Jurgen Klopp who has never made any secret of his admiration for the winger and the Sun says the Liverpool boss will "try and hijack the move".

Apparently Klopp sees the former Southampton star as pulling the strings in central midfield, which is the Ox's preferred position, whereas Chelsea manager Antonio Conte regards the disgruntled Gunner as a wing-back.

The Sun predicts "a frantic next 24 hours" as Liverpool battle Chelsea for his hand but adds that there is still an outside chance Oxlade-Chamberlain may end up staying at Arsenal.

Meanwhile the Daily Express claims that Kerem Demirbay "could sign in the next 48 hours" after Jurgen Klopp was impressed by his performances for Hoffenheim in the club's recent Champions League matches against the Reds.

The 24-year-old central midfielder made his Germany debut earlier this year, despite being eligible for Turkey, and Klopp knows him well from his time in charge of Borussia Dortmund.

Demirbay played for the club's youth sides at the time and while he didn't make the grade at Dortmund he's since matured into an accomplished playmaker at Hoffenheim.

Spurs are also believed to be interested in Demirbay but the Express says Klopp's German connections are likely to seal the deal for the Reds this week.

Liverpool transfer news: Klopp eyes swoop for Lemar

29 August

Having humiliated Arsenal with a 4-0 thrashing on Sunday, Liverpool are now planning to kick the Gunners while they're down by running off with Monaco's Thomas Lemar and Southampton's Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk.

Arsenal have been on the tail of the 21-year-old French international for a number of weeks, and allegedly tabled a failed £30m bid last month, but the young playmaker is understandably cooling on the idea of joining a club in crisis, and that's been noted by the Reds.

According to the Daily Telegraph "Liverpool have made an inquiry" about Lemar's availability and the response is that he's not for sale.

Monaco sold Kylian Mbappe to Paris Saint-Germain at the weekend for €180m (£167m) and they would prefer to hold onto Lemar for at least another season particularly as he has three to run on his current deal.

That chimes with what Sky Sports says, the broadcaster claiming "the latest offer made by Liverpool was around £64.8m, having previously submitted an offer worth £55.5m".

But it's expected that Jurgen Klopp will make a third and final bid for the youngster who scored 12 goals in 39 appearances last season.

As for Van Dijk, The Sun says that Klopp is closing in on the Dutch centre-back, exploiting the crisis at Arsenal to persuade the Saint that his future lies at Anfield and not the Emirates.

Elsewhere and Sky Sports are one of many media outlets to report that the Reds have agreed a deal with Leipzig for midfielder Naby Keita - but he won't arrive at Anfield until July 1 2018.

Apparently Liverpool will pay the £48m release clause, "as well as an undisclosed premium", after Keita passed a medical on Monday and that fee comfortably exceeds the record £39.5m that the club paid to Roma for Mohamed Salah a few weeks ago.

Liverpool transfer news: Coutinho 'detests' boss Klopp

24 August

Philippe Coutinho's relationship with Jurgen Klopp has reached the point where the pair no longer speak, according to the Daily Express

The paper goes so far as to claim the Brazilian playmaker "detests the Liverpool manager" because of his refusal to grant him his dream move to Barcelona.

Speaking after Liverpool's 4-2 win Hoffenheim in the Champions League qualifier on Wednesday night, Klopp refused to be drawn on the future of Coutinho. "There is nothing else to say," he said. "It's not that I don't want to talk about it, I just have nothing to say."

Klopp continues to insist that the Reds will not sell the Brazilian this summer, although the Express says his resolve will be sorely tested in the next week with the Catalan club expected to table a fourth bid in the region of £138m.

In the meantime the two men don't speak and Coutinho, who has yet to feature for the Reds this season because of a back injury and then a virus, is doing all he can to force a move from Anfield.

Elsewhere, the Daily Mirror claims that Liverpool are set to battle Juventus for the services of Benedikt Howedes. 

The Germany international has been linked with a move from Schalke to the Italian champions but reports from Germany claim that Liverpool are prepared to offer £18m for the 29-year-old.

Howedes has lost the captaincy at Schalke to goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann and there are rumours that new manager Domenico Tedesco is prepared to listen to offers for the no-nonsense defender.

Asked at the weekend about a possible move, Howedes replied: "I've always said that I would exclude a change within the league, but I can imagine a transfer outside the country."

German paper Bild says that a determining factor in Howedes’ decision is his desire for regular football so he can make Germany's World Cup squad next year and if Liverpool can guarantee him game-time a deal may be completed within the next week.

Liverpool transfer news: Coutinho '100 per cent' staying

23 August

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will welcome Philippe Coutinho back into his plans after declaring that the attacking midfielder is "100 per cent" staying at Anfield.

The Brazilian has been the subject of a potential transfer to Barcelona all summer and has not yet appeared for the Reds this season due to a back injury and also illness.

Barcelona, who are searching for a replacement for Neymar, have made three bids for the former Inter Milan star with the most recent one, of £144m, again rejected by the Merseyside club.

When asked about Coutinho's future and if the pair's relationship was strained, Klopp told The Times:"It's 100 per cent clear" that he's staying. "Why do you ask if everything is OK between me and him? Yes, of course, indeed, absolutely, 100 per cent."

Coutinho missed the opening two Premier League matches of the season and Liverpool's Champions League play-off first-leg victory in Hoffenheim with a back injury. Illness now rules him out of Tuesday night's second-leg clash against the Bundesliga side at Anfield.

"He has not trained," said Klopp. "He is a bit sick so the last few days he was not even at Melwood. The risk of spreading [the illness] was too big."

Liverpool transfer news: Klopp ready to pounce for Virgil van Dijk

22 August

Liverpool have stepped up their chase of Virgil van Dijk, reports The Sun, with the paper claiming that the Reds "are ready to pounce" for the Southampton defender amid growing rumours that Chelsea are also moving in for the kill.

Rumours at the weekend suggested that Blues boss Antonio Conte had earmarked the Dutchman for his squad, but that seems to have spurred the Reds into action. They were first linked with van Dijk in May and although the Saints warned them off, the Dutch international has since handed in a transfer request.

The South Coast club has insisted throughout the summer that van Dijk isn't for sale but The Sun says that Liverpool have been given renewed hope that a deal might be possible after the Saints signed Wesley Hoedt from Lazio.

His arrival is seen as a sign at Anfield that Southampton are preparing to put the 26-year-old van Dijk on the transfer market, particularly as Lazio sporting director Ighli Tare has claimed Hoedt has been guaranteed regular first-team football by Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino. But it's going to cost Liverpool with the Sun saying that the Merseyside club will have "to fork out a whopping £60million" if they want to land van Dijk.

As for the latest in the soap opera that is Philippe Coutinho's future, the Daily Express claims that the Reds have suspended deliberations "until after Wednesday's Champions League qualifier with Hoffenheim". The Reds lead the German outfit 2-1 going into the second leg, and the Express (citing Spanish newspaper Sport as its source), says that Jurgen Klopp has asked Reds officials to stop negotiations with their Barcelona counterparts until the end of the week so his squad can fully focus on their important European tie.

Klopp losing patience over Coutinho Barcelona rumours

18 August

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has hit out at the rumours suggesting that Barcelona are "close" to signing Philippe Coutinho.

The claims were made on Wednesday night by Barcelona general manager Pep Segura, who told reporters that they were circling Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund's Ousmane Dembele and "we are hopeful that they will end up wearing the Barca shirt".

Not so, stormed Klopp, who has already rubbished the idea of selling their Brazilian playmaker. And judging by his latest comments to the press his patience is wearing thin with the Spanish giants.

"Nothing to say from our side," muttered Klopp. "I don't know why other people are saying what they are saying; I don't even know them - especially this guy, I've never even met him."

The German was clearly not enjoying the constant questions from the press about Coutinho, snapping at yet another enquirer: "I am not sure I have to answer this because we have said what we have to say... No news from me because no-one told me anything different since we spoke last time about this."

The Daily Mirror reports that Klopp's intransigence seems to be getting through to Barcelona, despite the fact the paper says he "is braced for a third bid".

Barcelona sporting director Robert Fernandez is less confident than Pep Segura that a deal will be forthcoming. Describing it as a "very difficult situation", Fernandez said: "Dembele and Coutinho are two important players that we like a lot and have done for a long time. They have the conditions, the right age and could adapt to our football. They would be good to have here. That's the reality."

However, he said the fact that Coutinho had no release clause in his Liverpool contract meant there was little they could do if the Reds refused their advances. "We still have days ahead of us, would like to move things faster," explained Fernandez. "But it's the clubs who will have the final say on if we finally achieve those two transfers."

Barcelona claim deal for Philippe Coutinho is 'close'

17 August 

Barcelona may have been beaten by Real Madrid in Wednesday night's Spanish Super Cup but the Daily Mail reports that the Catalan club are increasingly confident of success in their pursuit of Philippe Coutinho.

Although Liverpool insist the Brazilian playmaker is not for sale, despite his having handed in a transfer request last week, Barcelona have other ideas.

Speaking after the defeat to Real Madrid, Barcelona general manager Pep Segura said of the club's pursuit of Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund's Ousmane Dembele: "Coutinho and Dembele are both close. We are hopeful that they will end up wearing the Barca shirt."

Pressed for more details by Spanish broadcaster TV3, Segura said: "Until deals are closed I can't say anything. We know we have to help the team and reinforce it and that's what we are doing."

The Mail claims that Dortmund have agreed an initial payment of £90m for Dembele, while a similar sum is expected to be accepted by Liverpool in the coming days for Coutinho.

Meanwhile there is more bad news for the Kop with The Sun reporting comments made by Christian Pulisic about the chances of his leaving Borussia Dortmund for Liverpool any time soon. The American star has been on Jurgen Klopp's radar for months but when asked about the story by German paper Bild, he replied: "Yes, I read that. What more can I say? I'm fully concentrated on the start of the season. I'm very happy in Dortmund. To be clear, I am not thinking about changing clubs."

Reminding the world that he recently extended his contract until 2020, the 18-year-old winger reiterated his desire to do great things for Dortmund despite the interest from Liverpool. "Last season, I established myself in Dortmund with a European top club, which was always my dream as a young boy," he said.

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