Liverpool have endured a torrid campaign and are light years away from where they were expected to be at the start of the season.
Much of their on-field woes can be attributed to recurring injury problems to key players, especially in midfield, with Naby Keita, Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho struggling to stay fit for much of the season.
Academy graduate Stefan Bajcetic has been given the nod on several occasions to plug the midfield gap.
But even the impressive youngster is not immune to the injury plague in the squad, having been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a thigh problem.
Liverpool are planning to bring in some much-needed midfield reinforcement this summer, with Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham top of their wanted list.
However, it remains to be seen if the Reds have what it takes financially to convince the Bundesliga giants to sell their highly coveted sensation.
While Liverpool are slugging it out with Real Madrid and Manchester City over the young Englishman, here are four cheaper alternatives we think the Reds should target if their Bellingham bid fails.
Salis Abdul Samed – RC Lens
Salis Abdul Samed was brought in by RC Lens in a €5 million move from Clermont Foot last summer to replace Cheick Doucoure, who joined Crystal Palace.
The 22-year-old wasted no time establishing himself as a vital cog in Franck Haise’s high-flying Lens side, who are third in Ligue 1, two points behind Olympique Marseille, and firmly in the mix for a place in next season’s Champions League.
The defensive midfielder is now worth much more than his initial value after proving an effective replacement for Doucoure, barely putting a foot wrong since his arrival.
Abdul Samed is far from the finished product but has been impressive for Lens and could prove a shrewd acquisition for Liverpool to serve as deputy to Fabinho, who has struggled to hit new heights following several niggling injuries.
Gabriel Veiga – Celta Vigo
Gabriel Veiga has attracted interest from Newcastle United and Spanish giants Madrid following his impressive displays for Celta Vigo this season.
At 20, the Spanish midfielder is already a pivotal part of Carlos Carvalhal’s side and is the team’s second-highest goalscorer after notching nine goals and assisting a further three.
The Celta academy graduate has a €40m release clause in his contract which could prove to be a bargain in the near future and is significantly lower than Dortmund’s asking price for Bellingham.
Veiga has a very high ceiling in terms of how far he can improve his game, but he already has significant top-flight experience under his belt and will slot into Klopp’s midfield seamlessly.
Youri Tielemans – Leicester City
Youri Tielemans is unlikely to be a Leicester City player next season, with his contract at King Power Stadium set to expire this summer.
The Belgium international is not a typical Klopp midfielder, but his Premier League experience could come in handy, especially on a free transfer.
Manchester United, Arsenal and Newcastle United are monitoring Tielemans’ situation, but Liverpool should join the race for the 25-year-old.
Tielemans has bagged just three goals and one assist in 23 league games this season. But with an average of 2.1 tackles completed per game, the Belgian could form a dynamic partnership with Fabinho and Thiago in the middle of the park.
Mason Mount – Chelsea
Mason Mount’s long-term future at Chelsea is far from certain, with the 24-year-old yet to sign a new deal at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues academy graduate has endured a difficult campaign so far, netting just three times and assisting twice in 23 league games.
However, his unimpressive statistics this season has no bearing on the player’s quality, and he will prove a huge miss if the West Londoners fail to tie him to a new contract.
If both parties fail to reach an agreement by the end of the season, Chelsea may be forced to cash in on the versatile midfielder, and Liverpool should be on hand to pounce.
Mount embodies the versatility, strength, and stamina Klopp requires from his midfielders to enforce his famous gegenpressing system and should be a top target for the Reds this summer.
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