Belfast Telegraph

Five alternatives to Naby Keita should Liverpool fail to get their man

Liverpool have already had two bids rejected for Naby Keita and more reports are tipping the Anfield club to be readying a third - but what if they don't land their top midfield target?

Here's a look at five alternatives who Jurgen Klopp could turn to in order to bolster his options.

Johannes Geis (Schalke 04)

Often an unsung hero in Schalke’s engine room, Geis would provide Liverpool’s midfield with some much-needed steel. The 23-year-old managed just a single goal throughout the whole of last season, however that statistic is not overly concerning, with his qualities lying in having the ability to break up play and re-distribute the ball accordingly, as well as from dead ball situations. Klopp has evidently targeted the German market in his bid to reinforce his midfield, and there are few better midfielders with a superior passing repertoire than the former Mainz man, who had a pass accuracy of 79 per cent last season, sometimes as a sole defensive midfielder.

Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid)

Croatia midfielder Mateo Kovacic has become nothing more than a bit-part player at Real Madrid due to the excellence of Toni Kroos and fellow countryman Luka Modric. The midfielder, who started just 19 games last season, has been able to deliver long-range passes accurately since his Inter Milan days, and has developed his defensive game well when covering for Modric in the Real Madrid set up. Deployed in several positions in Italy, Kovacic is now attempting to establish himself as a deep-lying playmaker, which would make him a suitable option for Liverpool. The Croatian is in desperate need of a move away, and despite interest from Tottenham, Klopp should not hesitate to get his career back on track.

Grzegorz Krychowiak (PSG)

Purchased for a substantial fee last summer from Sevilla, Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Krychowiak has endured a frustrating stint in the French capital. Much like Geis but with a greater physical presence than the German, the Polish midfielder thrives when positioned to challenge and recover the ball in central areas. The stature of the players in the midfields of Liverpool’s title competitors makes the Pole an increasingly attractive option, using his height to win over two aerial duels per game last season. Krychowiak is equally as astute having retrieved the ball, achieving a 92 per cent pass rate last season. The Polish international has been left out of the PSG squad for their pre-season tour, and would therefore not bring about the stalemate that the Merseyside club are currently experiencing with Leipzig.

Leon Goretzka (Schalke 04)

Goretzka has been heavily linked with Bayern Munich this summer, and his performances last season attracted the attention of suitors in England too. At 6ft 2in, the 22-year-old’s physique has seen him dominate midfield battles, with commensurate tireless work ethic to match. However, if the Confederations Cup was anything to go by, it is potentially the creative side of his game that will most appeal to Klopp. The German drives often from deep, and his five goals last season in addition to the three he bagged in the Confederations Cup demonstrates his ability to score goals from central midfield. Also able to play as an attacking midfielder, the three assists he picked up last season for his club do not reflect his true natural passing qualities. Goretzka, who undoubtedly possess the potential to become a complete midfielder, will be hot property if, as expected, he decides to leave Schalke in the near future.

Jean Michael Seri (Nice)

One of the most coveted midfielders in Europe this season, Jean Seri’s significant role in Nice’s Ligue 1 winning side has drawn interest from Roma, Barcelona, Arsenal and Tottenham. Much like Goretzka, Seri is equally as likely to control the tempo of the match with his wide passing range as he is to maraud forward and create openings with his superb dribbling. His return of ten assists and seven goals last season is superior to the 22-year-old German’s, but the transitional aspect to his play is what has made him so highly coveted, looking equally as assured in shielding the ball under pressure in his own half as he is trying to unlock the opposition’s defence. With a price tag of €40m well within Liverpool’s financial means, Seri could represent the best value for money for Klopp.

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