Liverpool can hijack Spurs’ second transfer as Ibrahima Konaté repeat could grant Anfield wish
There must be a lot of good feelings towards Spurs inside the Liverpool camp at the moment. Tottenham’s attempts to sign Luis Díaz prompted FSG to complete a January transfer; the Colombian has taken off and has already played its part in the delivery of silverware. Meanwhile, Antonio Conte’s side recently took all three points from Man City – with Díaz alternative Dejan Kulusevski among the goals.
Ahead of the summer, Spurs look like they could effectively package another transfer from Liverpool. Joško Gvardiol, one of the latest Red Bull hopefuls to emerge at Leipzig, is said to have caught their eye; according to the Mail, the 20-year-old has reached the “top of the wishlist” at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. While there is no urgent need for another centre-back at Anfield, it would still come as no surprise to see FSG get involved.
Indeed, they may not need to get particularly involved to get their man. In Díaz’s case, the London club did all the work necessary to negotiate the price down, before Liverpool stepped in to complete the signing. FSG don’t necessarily need help when it comes to dealing with RB Leipzig, having had plenty of experience with Red Bull over the past few years, but they could also be content to let Spurs do the work. .
After all, they can be sure of knowing that Gvardiol would choose Liverpool if given a direct choice. The young defender, who did no harm to his reputation with Croatia at Euro 2020, has openly admitted his desire to move to Anfield in the past:
“Ever since I was a little boy, my dad and I have watched Liverpool games, and I grew up with just them.
“When I took football more seriously I started following them, and I really want the Premier League and Liverpool.”
Footballers are sometimes a little more reluctant when discussing their allegiances. Then again, for prospects within the Red Bull talent factory, revealing a desire to move to Liverpool might not be the world’s worst ploy. Naby Keïta and Ibrahima Konaté have already joined Leipzig, while Takumi Minamino was acquired from Salzburg.
Ironically, Konaté’s presence could be an obstacle to Gvardiol’s dream move. The Frenchman is 22 years old. Joe Gomez, his partner in the recent win over Norwich, is 24. In theory, this could be Liverpool’s centre-back duo of the future once Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip call it a day. Spurs are certainly hoping this will prevent another hijacking situation.
However, the FSG would not turn their backs on a promising defender who is desperate for Anfield without serious deliberation. Gvardiol has been excellent for RB Leipzig this season: he has shades of Matip about him, ranking in the 99th percentile among his positional peers in Europe’s top five leagues for completed dribbles and expected goals and assists per 90 minutes . He also excels in the traditional defensive departments of tackles, interceptions and blocks.
The somewhat shaky passing completion and aerial duel percentages would be the only things to put Liverpool off, but at 20 there are plenty of positives. Trained in the Red Bull philosophy, which shares a lot of similarities with Klopp’s vision, there’s every chance that Gvardiol can adapt as quickly as Konate.
Ultimately, a decision could come down to what the future holds for Gomez. If he stays at Liverpool, Spurs will likely be allowed to conduct their transfer business in peace. However, if the England defender moves on, Daniel Levy will have to start looking over his shoulder again. If FSG find themselves looking for a promising young centre-back, they might just fulfill Gvardiol’s Anfield dream.